How to Create Simple Seamless Background Product Shots

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You’ve probably seen the product photographs with a full colour background without any distracting elements in the scene. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could replicate this for shots of valuable possessions? With the amount of buying and selling that happens online, wouldn’t you like to have the edge by having some attractive, clear shots of your product?

Well, it’s not impossible to replicate this with some very simple and cheap gear and I’m going to show you how.

The Setup

The whole setup is simple enough. You need a light source, a background with support and for the purpose of fill (if needed) some sort of reflector.

 setup.jpg

For the background I attached coloured card paper to a carboard box I had lying around using clothes pegs. You want to get paper that is long enough to cover the top down background and a base which allows you to get multiple angles of your product.

Lighting was provided for free by the sun through a bare window. Unfortunately this means shooting at a particular time of day because you don’t want the sun shining straight through and giving you harsh shadows. Position the setup so the light source is coming from the front left or front right corners of the product. Of course you can use a flash unit as a source of light.

If the room isn’t lit up well enough by the sunlight you might end up with a dark side to your product. To solve this add some fill lighting on the opposite side of the light source. You could use white card paper to reflect some light onto the product and also add attractive reflections.

Extras

There is a lot more you can add to the mix to spice things up.

  • Use a piece of plexiglass under the product and over the chart paper will give the product a pretty reflection.
  • You will almost certainly need to correct white balance as the sunlight and room wall colour is going to project warmer colours. (https://digital-photography-school.com/introduction-to-white-balance)
  • If using a flash unit, the light needs to be diffused to eliminate harsh shadows.

Some Examples

Here are some shots I took using a black and white chart paper as a seamless and all with natural sunlight.

lens-black-seamless-1.jpg

lens-black-seamless-2.jpg

lens-white-seamless-1.jpg

lens-white-seamless-2.jpg

Should you have any photography related questions, I’d be more than willing to help. Catch me on Facebook, Twitter andGoogle+.

I am an amateur photographer (terencepereiraphoto.com) based in sunny Oman. I can be caught spewing tips and sharing my photographic adventures on my blog.

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  • Craft papers, available in many colors, provide easy solution to having varied backgrounds.

    In my blog article link below I show how to set up a very inexpensive home studio light box to assist with different lightening needs for your subjects.

    http://niels-henriksen.blogspot.com/2010/08/mini-home-photography-studio.html

    Niels Henriksen

  • Great article. This technique can be scaled up as needed to full studio size. I used just such a technique to shoot this pair of ice skates!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/yin-yang/

  • Robb

    The biggest problem I have is matching the white background with the clients website white. No matter what lights I use, it never matches without havin to spend more time in Photoshop than I want. Any suggestions out there?

  • I don’t think the black background shots are useful for personal product selling (can’t really see the product), but they are very nicely done and I really like them.

    Flickr:
    http://bit.ly/oufr4c

  • Here’s a series of articles detailing how to scale this up for portraits: http://zackarias.com/for-photographers/photo-resources/white-seamless-tutorial-part-1-gear-space/

  • Great simple idea i will have to use it for all my ebay sales, it’s a very profesional look

  • Essam

    sweet thanks a lot.. that help a a lot..

  • Great article. Thank you fro sharing.

    For larger objects, or when shooting outdoors, particularly in the field, where it can be impractical to transport craft paper. Micro-fleece blankets, in various colors, can be bought at many stores and make excellent Lambertian reflecting backdrops, with little to no color / shade variation due to bumps or pleating. With these, you can take studio isolated shots of nature anywhere.

  • Great tips! I do the same thing with posterboard! Glad it is catching on. 🙂

  • Lately I’ve been doing a bit of product shots for my company (the one I’m employed at, not my own :)), and when I saw this title in my news feed I was hoping to see “the ultimate solution”. Like others, I’m struggling to get the product just right, with the background a true white. I’m using a light tent to place the products in, with two umbrellas as light sources. But I still get some variations in white, needing a few tweaks in Photoshop. Also I’m having a hard time with products containing a lot of white. As most of the products are pharmaceutical this is a lot of them. Some of the whitest products blend to much with the background. One solution could be using a “blue/green screen”, but I’m not experienced in this and my first attempts looked very unnatural.

    In total I’ve taken over 300 product shots, and have about 200 left, so it’s not a small job.

  • @yngve: If you are having trouble with objects blending in with the background, move the further away from the background. Take a look at the link I posted earlier (http://zackarias.com/for-photographers/photo-resources/white-seamless-tutorial-part-1-gear-space/) to understand why this blending occurs. You can always scale down what Zack has built for your product shots.

  • @Clinton: Thank you for the excellent link. Probably the best post I’ve read in a long time. I have come to the conclusion that all my problems would be solved by either using one light for background or adding a third light for the background. I’m definitely going to look at options for getting that light right. Even if it means moving out of my little light tent to get the space needed. 🙂

  • One critique: With the black paper it might be more effective if you used some sort of rim lighting to lift the lens off of the background.

  • Thanks everyone for all the tips. I’ve learned a thing or two!

  • JJ

    I liked the idea that you attached the card paper to a cardboard box with clothes pegs! I do my own product photos mainly using white background because I think it brings out the colors more. If I want a plain background I simply use an A4 sized bond paper, lean it against a pillow and do a macro shot like this under yellow light:

    http://classicsparklers.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/emerald-lane/

    If I need texture, I use table cloth for the shadows that form. Again, using macro setting and natural light, the photos came out like this:

    http://classicsparklers.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/inspirations-3/

    http://classicsparklers.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/inspirations-5/

    During those times I have to work with sterling silver, I use darker backgrounds like black or purple, although I must admit that I’m still playing with the settings here as I find it a bit difficult to capture that right lighting:

    http://classicsparklers.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/amethyst-silver/

  • rde

    Now, someone come up with the solution for taking pictures of crystal clear glass. a light from the bottom would be super – just need to have the glass sit on “something” other than the light source.

  • Santosh Mohanasundaram

    Dear sir, I have been stuck with stainless steel utensils photo my clients says somehow the reflection is seen so kindly help with the background and lighting settings.

  • RSolanki

    Try using a polariser to reduce the reflections from the utensils. They will help a lot

  • MonicaW

    I wish you or someone would show a simple DIY light setup. It’s often too dark or cloudy to get sufficient light through a window, especially in winter (northern US).

  • James Gonneau

    This was shot in my back yard, middle of the day, no flash. The eggplant was set on a chair, with a white sheet of paper behind. I used a thumbtack to keep it upright.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesgonneau/9677631000/in/photolist-fKbowU-fJTV2K-aNAHQz

  • Aleksandrs Jeme?janovs

    Here is detailed tutorial how to achieve Pure isolated white background in a home photo studio.

    Not so hard

    http://mediamaker.tips/achieving-an-isolated-white-background-in-a-home-photo-studio

Some Older Comments

  • Mahmoud Raouf November 19, 2011 12:07 am

    The Kit Lens
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/raouf_m/6234065901/

  • rde October 19, 2011 12:54 am

    Now, someone come up with the solution for taking pictures of crystal clear glass. a light from the bottom would be super - just need to have the glass sit on "something" other than the light source.

  • JJ October 18, 2011 01:02 pm

    I liked the idea that you attached the card paper to a cardboard box with clothes pegs! I do my own product photos mainly using white background because I think it brings out the colors more. If I want a plain background I simply use an A4 sized bond paper, lean it against a pillow and do a macro shot like this under yellow light:

    http://classicsparklers.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/emerald-lane/

    If I need texture, I use table cloth for the shadows that form. Again, using macro setting and natural light, the photos came out like this:

    http://classicsparklers.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/inspirations-3/

    http://classicsparklers.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/inspirations-5/

    During those times I have to work with sterling silver, I use darker backgrounds like black or purple, although I must admit that I'm still playing with the settings here as I find it a bit difficult to capture that right lighting:

    http://classicsparklers.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/amethyst-silver/

  • shutterbug October 14, 2011 04:32 pm

    Thanks everyone for all the tips. I've learned a thing or two!

  • Lewis October 14, 2011 05:11 am

    One critique: With the black paper it might be more effective if you used some sort of rim lighting to lift the lens off of the background.

  • Yngve Thoresen October 11, 2011 12:03 am

    @Clinton: Thank you for the excellent link. Probably the best post I've read in a long time. I have come to the conclusion that all my problems would be solved by either using one light for background or adding a third light for the background. I'm definitely going to look at options for getting that light right. Even if it means moving out of my little light tent to get the space needed. :)

  • Clinton October 10, 2011 11:06 pm

    @yngve: If you are having trouble with objects blending in with the background, move the further away from the background. Take a look at the link I posted earlier (http://zackarias.com/for-photographers/photo-resources/white-seamless-tutorial-part-1-gear-space/) to understand why this blending occurs. You can always scale down what Zack has built for your product shots.

  • Yngve Thoresen October 10, 2011 05:50 pm

    Lately I've been doing a bit of product shots for my company (the one I'm employed at, not my own :)), and when I saw this title in my news feed I was hoping to see "the ultimate solution". Like others, I'm struggling to get the product just right, with the background a true white. I'm using a light tent to place the products in, with two umbrellas as light sources. But I still get some variations in white, needing a few tweaks in Photoshop. Also I'm having a hard time with products containing a lot of white. As most of the products are pharmaceutical this is a lot of them. Some of the whitest products blend to much with the background. One solution could be using a "blue/green screen", but I'm not experienced in this and my first attempts looked very unnatural.

    In total I've taken over 300 product shots, and have about 200 left, so it's not a small job.

  • Trudy October 9, 2011 05:59 am

    Great tips! I do the same thing with posterboard! Glad it is catching on. :)

  • Gary W Sherwin October 8, 2011 10:21 pm

    Great article. Thank you fro sharing.

    For larger objects, or when shooting outdoors, particularly in the field, where it can be impractical to transport craft paper. Micro-fleece blankets, in various colors, can be bought at many stores and make excellent Lambertian reflecting backdrops, with little to no color / shade variation due to bumps or pleating. With these, you can take studio isolated shots of nature anywhere.

  • Essam October 8, 2011 07:17 pm

    sweet thanks a lot.. that help a a lot..

  • perth wedding photographer October 8, 2011 03:47 pm

    Great simple idea i will have to use it for all my ebay sales, it's a very profesional look

  • Clinton October 8, 2011 03:02 am

    Here's a series of articles detailing how to scale this up for portraits: http://zackarias.com/for-photographers/photo-resources/white-seamless-tutorial-part-1-gear-space/

  • Gnslngr45 October 8, 2011 02:45 am

    I don't think the black background shots are useful for personal product selling (can't really see the product), but they are very nicely done and I really like them.

    Flickr:
    http://bit.ly/oufr4c

  • Robb October 8, 2011 01:57 am

    The biggest problem I have is matching the white background with the clients website white. No matter what lights I use, it never matches without havin to spend more time in Photoshop than I want. Any suggestions out there?

  • ErikKerstenbeck October 8, 2011 01:27 am

    Great article. This technique can be scaled up as needed to full studio size. I used just such a technique to shoot this pair of ice skates!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/yin-yang/

  • My Camera World October 8, 2011 01:20 am

    Craft papers, available in many colors, provide easy solution to having varied backgrounds.

    In my blog article link below I show how to set up a very inexpensive home studio light box to assist with different lightening needs for your subjects.

    http://niels-henriksen.blogspot.com/2010/08/mini-home-photography-studio.html

    Niels Henriksen

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