How to Take Catalog Photographs

You’ve seen those clean product images in online and printed catalogs. No background images. No distractions. Just a simple presentation of the product.

With a little equipment and knowledge, just about anyone can handle product catalog photographs. If you have literally thousands of products that need to be photographed, then it might be worth hiring a professional. But if you only need a few images for a smaller catalog, then a do-it-yourself approach can save you a lot of money.


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    Equipment - You need a few pieces of equipment to pull this off: Table, two bright white lights on stands/lamps, tripod, digital camera, white sheet
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    Setup - Set the table up against a wall. This will allow you to affix the sheet to the wall and drape it across the table. This is where you will set your products.
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    Your camera and tripod should be set directly in front of the stage you’ve built, but above it. This will be a matter of taste, so find an angle that works for you.
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    Your lights should be on either side of the camera: one light at about the same level and higher. This will create an interesting lighting environment that also helps with shadows.
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    Photography - At this point you are ready to start taking pictures. Position the product in a way that highlights the key features and be careful of shadows and reflections. Document your image numbers and write down or track your product ID with the images. This will allow you to quickly pull product images later when you are putting the catalog together.


  • You can use a background other than white. Many catalogs use black or grey when photographing products that are silver or very shiny, like jewelry.
  • You may also consider a three light setup. Just position the third light directly above the product. For all lights, adjust the distance of the bulb to the product if you need more or less light from a particular angle.

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Categories: Photography | Retail Sales