Flash Photography: A Bad Idea for Product Photos

JimwOne of life’s greatest annoyances is the camera flash. I mean, no one likes a bright light in his face while trying to stand still for a picture, right?

Yes, a camera’s flash is sometimes necessary for certain situations, but it really should never be used when photographing products for your small business.

A camera’s flash creates:

1. Hot spots
2. Harsh shadows
3. Distorted colors
4. Dull textures

For example, look at these three pictures of my small beaded coin purse: 

LightingConditions
1. In the first (flash) example, notice the darkness around the edges of the photo. The flash illuminates only the portions of the item closest to the camera. Also notice that the beaded texture of the pouch is not sharp.

2. The second (direct sunlight) example is also a poor product photo, but for a different reason. Light fills the entire frame, but the harsh shadow makes the pouch look larger. The beaded texture is also difficult to distinguish.

3. The third (indirect sunlight) example is the best of the three. The harsh shadow is gone, and the beaded texture is much more visible.

Bottom line:  natural lighting/daylight is a much better source of light than a camera’s flash. Experiment with your camera and your products. Can you see a difference between flash and natural lighting?

Julie Signature
P.S.  I did not use an expensive camera to take these shots. Just about any digital camera can produce good lighting results. You just have to plan your photo shoots for the best time of day.

  • I take my items photos with a white paper below (just the small items), and with the day light not directly in the item. They get as your nr. 3. Then I usually refine them a little with photoshop, so they look just like the item “live and in color”.
    The centering the item step is also very important!
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  • Great job with your product photography! It is lovely!
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