Don’t Let Shadows Steal the Spotlight in your Product Photos – Tips & Hacks to Eliminate Shadows

Product Photos

You would have heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In today’s digital and e-commerce era, “Your product pictures are worth even more than that.” In fact, product photos have the power to convert casual browsers into loyal buyers.

Whether you’re launching a new website, selling your products on your eCommerce store or selling them at online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and others, product photography for ecommerce is what makes you stand apart from the rest.

You may have the best product in the whole world. But, if you don’t showcase it in the right light, then you’re going to miss out big. The trustworthiness of your brand and the perceived value of your products are determined by your product photos.

Simply put, high-quality, professional, and aesthetically pleasing product photos go a long way in boosting your bottom line.

In today’s guide, you can find all that you need to eliminate those unsightly shadows from your product photos. Before, you get to removing shadows; let’s take a few minutes to understand the basics of photo lighting.

Let there be Light: Natural vs. Artificial Lighting

Never underestimate the power of lighting when it comes to product photography. In fact, lighting has the potential to make or break your final image. You may have the finest professional camera in the world, but improper lighting can wreck the whole output.

Always remember that buyers turn to product photos to help them arrive at the right decision during the buying process. With proper lighting, you can highlight crucial product features that tip the tables in your favor.

There are two main types of product lighting photography used by product photographers.

Natural Lighting

Simply put, natural light refers to sunlight. It’s also known as “Soft Lighting.” This is because the sun’s rays cast a longer and softer range of light, when compared to artificial lighting sources like lamps that shine directly on the product.

Natural lighting works better for your ecommerce product photography if,

    • The product being showcased is meant to be used outdoors.
    • The product is meant to be used by a person, and you want to shoot the product being used. This is because people photograph better in natural light.
    • You aim to emphasize the product’s settings and surroundings, rather than capturing it in a sterile environment.

Example: Product Shoot of trekking shoes being used by trekkers outdoors feels more natural, rather than capturing the shoe in isolation at a studio.

Artificial Lighting

This includes all other sources of lights like light bulbs, fires, candles, etc. These are also known as “hard lights” because it creates a more focused and smaller light-up area when compared to sunlight. Artificial lights work better for product photos that aim to highlight a specific feature of the photoshoot for online products.

Example: Highlighting the watch face, dial and design are better achieved when the watch is shot under artificial studio lights.

Choosing between Natural and Artificial Lights

There is no right or wrong choice. What works for one product may not work for the next one. With that said, the general rule of thumb is to use just one type of light for a photo. Don’t mix light sources. Adding natural light to an artificially lit picture makes your image lose out on sharpness. Similarly, adding artificial lights to a naturally lit photo removes the softness from the image.

Coming to the big question,

How to Remove those Pesky Shadows from Product Photographs?

Irrespective of whether you opt for natural or artificial lighting, you’ll have to lessen the shadows caused by the product on the opposite end of the frame. Here are three ways in which you can achieve this:

1. Fill Light

Supplement your main light source by including another less-intense light source. This secondary light is technically known as “fill light.” It is used to counterbalance and soften the natural shadows produced by the object.
To do this, you have to place your fill light and main light at opposite sides. This way the product sits between the two light sources.

Now, the shadow isn’t formed behind the object. All you get is a soft shadow that sits directly beneath the product.

2. Flashbulb Bounce Card

This is a small reflector card that bounces or reflects the main light back to the surface beneath the product, thereby reducing the presence of hard shadows.

Also known as bounce cards these can be attached directly to the flashbulb of the camera, thereby diffusing the light from the camera’s flash. Instead, of the flash shooting light straight on the object, the card diffuses a softer light from above the object.

This eliminates long, unsightly shadows that trail behind the product; you’re shooting.

3. Standalone Bounce Card

The flashbulb bounce card is of no use if you’re shooting with your smartphone. It doesn’t have an external physical flash, to which you can attach this card.

In such situations, you can use a standalone bounce card that is placed directly opposite to the main light. This card comes with an inbuilt stand that makes it easy to position it wherever you want. It effectively replaces the need for fill light, thereby removing hard shadows from the product photo.

To Wrap Up

Irrespective of whether you’re shooting food product photography or lifestyle product photography, there’s no denying the fact that shadows not only reduce the aesthetic appeal of the image but also distract your buyers.

Use these tips listed here, to highlight your product’s features by reducing shadows. And, remember an image shot right, makes all the difference in online selling.