Photographing products on white background is something that never gets old, with all the e-commerce and catalogs and magazines, clients wants photos that are easy to use everywhere.
But with a white background the products might look flat and boring, often due to the background light that easily can wash away all contrast. Just using two pieces of black paper/cardboard/foamboard can solve that problem.
This is how this product looks lit with two medium softboxes, one from left and one from right. The white background is made completely white by a third light, high up, aimed at the background.
This was an assignment for a web shop presenting a lot of different products in a lot of different boxes and bags and so on. I chose a very simple lighting so everything could be shot from the same angle and with the same settings.
But the background light made the contrast on the edges very poor.
Here is how it was set up in the studio. On the saw horses I had put a white foam board and on the foam board I had a plexiglass to create reflections. Just reflections was something that the client wanted, and the easiest way is plexiglass, I think. Not transparent, and not ordinary glass, as you can get double reflections that way. This was more milky.
Placing black paper on either side as flags reduces the light bouncing around and makes the edges of this white product more and better defined. You can easily experiment with the effect of this by moving the around.
Here they are closer to the camera and adds even more contrast and defined edges by also blocking a bit of the light from the front, as well as reducing the light from the background reaching the camera.
During this day I shot around 100 packshots of different products, but the first thing I did was to test the light on a sample of them. Trying the lighting setup on the largest as well as the smallest, and then picking something that might be tricky, as bottle or glass jar, as well as the darkest and whitest tells you if you can use the same setup all day or if you will need to change it a lot.
You could of course use a product photography tent, and apply the same trick with black board or something else that you use as a flag, but I feel that this is a more open solution. Having to place something on the right spot inside a small tent without breaking anything or stumble over a light stand can break your back.
But the most important tip here would be to document your setup. I try to do it all the time, and if I am really smart, I also write down the distance from the product to the light as well as the effect I used on the lights. The more specific you can be, the easier it will get to recreate the same studio next the client calls you and wants more photos in the exact same style.
Some behind the scenes shots can help a lot as well.
When I was finished shooting all the products I could import the photos into Lightroom and apply the same settings to all. The black flags saved me from having to adjust some photos more than necessary to make them look good.
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