Tabletop Photography

Everything You Need To Know About Tabletop Photography

Don’t for one moment think that tabletop photography is something new. Even before digital product photography became the standard for photographing products, manufacturers and companies turned to tabletop photography to photograph their products.

That does not mean that it is easy. Just like the many other fields within product photography, it is a craft that you need to master.

Tabletop Photography Uncovered

Tabletop photography is best described as a form of still-life photography.

The products that you want to shoot are placed on a table. You can use different techniques including flat-lay and standing. Thanks to e-commerce, tabletop photography has more or less become the go-to option for many photographers.

Can I do it myself? If you have never taken photographs of products before, this is a very good place to start. However, when you want your photographs to represent your products well, it is best to get in touch with a professional product photographer.

Are There Different Types Of Tabletop Photography?

The answer to that question is an overwhelming yes.

Most professional photographers will use two different techniques; collages and single objects.

A good example would be a watch. Watches are often photographed on their own.

A perfume bottle will look better photographed as part of a collage setting. For instance, you often find perfumes are photographed with the flower or spice which is the lead fragrance in the scent.

The Essentials Of Tabletop Photography

Before you go ahead and rush to your kitchen table and set up your shoot, there are a few more things that you need to do.

This is a shortlist that can help you to take better tabletop photographs.

  • Use a white background
  • The product should take up at least 70% of the image
  • The product should be in sharp focus
  • The details of the object should be visible

Where are you most likely to come across tabletop images? Pretty much all sites selling products including Shopify, Amazon, AliExpress, and eBay use tabletop photography.

Does image quality matter? The image quality is the most important factor. Think about it this way. Your photograph, and product will have to compete against thousands of other products and photographs.

Someone may even be selling the same or a similar product. But, because your image quality is better, a potential buyer will go on to order your product.

Can I Use Props?

Using props is surprisingly popular when it comes to tabletop photography.

Not only do props add another layer to the photograph, but they will also help you to tell a story.

Let’s use another example to demonstrate what we mean.

If you would like to increase the sales of your new exciting cookbook about Moroccan food or boost the sale of a tagine, you can include a couple of easy-to-recognize spices. Turmeric and anise is a good idea.

Instantly, you are telling a story and perhaps making someone’s mouth water. You have turned what could have been a boring image into a more styled image.

What Are The Basics Of A Styled Image?

It all depends on what you are selling, but when it comes to creating a styled image that tells a story, there are a few basics that you should follow.

  • Where is going to be used? Many styled images are used on social media where you can’t use too many words describing the product. You have probably seen styled images on sites such as Twitter and Pinterest without thinking about it. Pinterest is a great site for new ideas and inspiration.
  • A styled image should not be cluttered. Too much stuff in the photograph will detract from the product itself and may reduce its value. The main focus must be still on the product.
  • You will often come across styled images in advertising campaigns. That is why your image must focus on the product. Think about the props as a backup.
  • Get your props right. Any props should fit in with the product theme and the colors.
  • To emphasize a purpose, you can use a person as a prop. When you are selling nail polish, why not go ahead and place a hand with nicely painted nails in the photograph.

What Equipment Do I Need For Tabletop Photography?

If you are just starting in product sales, it is a good idea to make do with what you have. However, when you are ready to increase your budget, there are a few things you may want to invest in.

Needless to say, you need the product itself. Don’t try to copy or use images from Amazon or AliExpress. A reverse image search will immediately tell a buyer where the image has come from.

This is what you need to have to snap quality tabletop photographs:

  • Camera
  • Lens
  • Tripod or a table stand known as a C-stand
  • Lighting Kit
  • Diffusor
  • Reflector
  • Gear that will hold the object in place

As you can see, the list you need for tabletop photography is rather extensive. That is why many site owners turn to professional photographers.

Depending on your budget, it can cost you anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000 to invest in the right gear. Find out more by reading our mini guide to the equipment you will need to take a good photograph.

How Do You Take A Tabletop Photograph?

First of all, you need to plan your photograph. If you are stuck for inspiration, you should check out Pinterest. It is probably the best site when it comes to getting inspiration for a product shoot.

Once you know what effect that you would like to achieve, it is time to get ready.

  • Before you set up the table, make sure that area is clean. Have your white background ready and any props. It should also be easy to move around the table so that you can shoot from different angles.
  • Set up your camera using a tripod to avoid camera shake.
  • Your lighting kit including the diffusor and reflector needs to be set up.
  • Place the product and props in the best position.
  • Adjust the light until you are happy with both hard and soft light.
  • Take a couple of shots from different angles and check if any adjustments are needed.
  • Use a computer program such as Adobe Photoshop to edit images.

If you are shooting for a client, make sure that you follow the brief. When you are taking photographs of your products, it is a good idea to come up with a brief for yourself. That makes it easier when you want to use the services of a professional product photographer in the future.

Planning and setting up the shot is essential when it comes to tabletop product photography.

You need to make sure that any props that you are using are relevant to the product.

Take time to learn how to use hard and soft shadows to your advantage. There is nothing like the right kind of light to control what a buyer sees and where he looks in the photograph.

Your photograph may be the one chance you get to impress someone researching or looking for a certain to buy. That’s why the quality of your tabletop photography is so important.

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