Product Photography

How to take your own photos

Sometimes you just don’t have the budget for professional photography. Or maybe you need some quick social content. I like to make sure clients have the power of the brand in their hands, and being able to take photos for yourself is a great way to delve into the creative space and use that valuable budget to set ads instead.

What you'll need

  • A room with lots of natural light.
  • A large, flat space to work.
  • A good quality smartphone.
  • A large piece of A1 white paper, OR, coloured paper to match your brand.
  • A set of your products with clean labels – no scratches or marks.
  • A bunch of scene elements to go with your product; for example, if you are a tea brand, choose pretty teacups, spoons, and napkins – make sure they are clean!

Setting up for light

Find a spot with the best light in the room. You want the light to be beside you on the left or right as this casts the best light and the least shadow. Never have the light behind you, or you will cast a shadow in the photos.

Decide if you want your photos to be ‘front face on’ or ‘bird’s eye view’

If you have a tall bottle or a free-standing product, you want ‘front face on’ so you can see that beautiful label. Put your paper against a wall and stick some blue tack to the top.  Let the paper fall nicely so that the halfway point meets the floor or bench and cascades across it. You want a nice seamless edge, so there are no harsh lines in the background.

If you have a flat box or packet that doesn’t stand up by itself, try shooting from above as a bird would see. Place your paper on the floor or a low surface and make sure it’s nice and clean and flat.

Set up your product first, then your extras

Place your product on the scene first, as this is the star of the show! Ensure the main label is facing the front. Then you can start adding in your extra elements. Don’t be afraid to play around for a while before you even pick up your phone to take a photo.

Size is important. Place larger objects to the back and smaller ones to the front. Always think about how your product must be the star; nothing should obscure the view of your product.

It’s ideal to have no more than three extra elements per photo.

Take more photos than you need

Now let’s take a photo, keep your knees soft and your arms steady. Line your phone up over the scene. Make your product the main focus point by tapping it on the screen. Take a breath, hold your mouth the right way, and take the photo. Now move to a slightly different angle and take another one, repeat, repeat, repeat! ALWAYS take at least 10 photos per scene. Try as many different angles as you can.


Without the power of photoshop or a designer, your editing capabilities will be limited. However, it’s not impossible, and you can use the simple controls on your smartphone.

I suggest you look at a few photos from other brands on Instagram; keep them in front of you and play around with the controls in your photo editor. Keep everything nice and light and bright by playing around with brightness and contrast.

How to choose your moneymaker photo

Download all your photos to your computer, make a folder called “selects” and run through all your photos, putting the ones you like inside the selects folder.

Step away from the photos for a while; do some washing, write out invoices, play with your dog! Time away from your work helps to choose the best possible look when you come back. When you come back, select the first three that jump out at you! Those are the photos of your dreams to use on social media.


  • The rule of three – Keep your extra elements to no more than three! Something about three items of varying sizes in a photo is pleasing to the human eye. For example; use two small cups and one large plate, OR two small plates with jam and butter, OR one large plate with a scone and a knife. Use the same technique on your products! Take a group shot with three bottles in it.
  • Get your brand colours on paper – Using your brand colours is a great idea for a backdrop. Speak with a printing company and get an A1 page printed in your colours with a matte laminate over the top so you can wipe it clean and re-use.
  • Need a specific background – You can use a kitchen bench with a complementary tiled wall or a wooden table with plants on it. Make sure your background is uncluttered and simplistic, nothing too patterned or busy to distract from your product, and nothing that doesn’t fit your brand.
  • Keep your products in their best state – If your product has sediment in it, make sure you shake it up each time you reset a shot. Smooth out crinkles on packets to ensure your logo is readable, and ALWAYS wipe the labels clean!
  • What to do with perishable products? If you can, avoid using your packets with the product packed inside. It will give you more time to take photos of frozen or chilled products. I use dry beans, Styrofoam balls, water or other simple substitutes when working with these items. Use a non-chilled bottle for beers or cold beverages.


If you get stuck, reach out to me, and I can give you a few tips or look over your photos.