DIY: Create a Small Product Studio Set - dummies

By Thomas Clark

Small product photography is often created in the studio and on a tabletop set. There are a few ways to go about constructing this type of set.

A roll of white, grey, black, or colored paper can provide the seamless background you need. The paper is raised above the tabletop (held up by two light stands with a crossbar), and swept across the top of the table, creating a vertical and horizontal space with no seam in between.

This setup offers plenty of space to work with in positioning and making changes to your subject, and enables you to use various lighting techniques.

Another way to create a seamless background is to use a light tent (a cube-shaped structure with white fabric walls and a seamless interior.) You can purchase them at reasonable prices, and they work well for subjects that require soft lighting and those with reflective surfaces, because the fabric walls provide clean reflections.

The downside to light tents is they don’t provide much space to work with, and they limit the lighting styles you can use.

Photographers typically use studio lights (strobe or flash) to light a tabletop set. To do so, you need some light stands to hold the lights in place, and some grip (materials used to clamp, prop, and style equipment and elements in a studio set) to position any reflectors, gobos (black cards used to block light from certain areas of a scene), or props in a set.

You can use a large window as a soft light source by positioning your tabletop set near it. Doing so is a great option for photographers who don’t have much studio lighting equipment. Just be conscious of the fact that the window light is less consistent than studio lights.

If the sun shines directly through the window, then the quality of your light changes. And anytime there’s a change in weather outside, the color and intensity of the window lighting is affected.

Position your camera on a tripod in the studio in order to maximize sharpness and to free up your hands.