Product Photography Tutorial Shows How to Shoot Large Objects

London-based product photographer Sean Tucker is releasing a three-part video series on photographing large objects, such as chairs and sofas, in a studio setting. Here in part one, Tucker demonstrates how to set up your lighting and camera in order to achieve a great, clean image that will be easy to cut out in post-production for online product catalogs. 

To start off, Tucker shows how to set up your product before you begin shooting. This includes having a white backdrop to work with to avoid any reflecting color casts affecting the look of the product’s true color. As the lighting pieces are set up one by one, Tucker goes beyond simply showing you his lighting angles and goes into detail on why the specific light matters and what to look for in order to get it right. Although he is using pricier lighting and modifiers, Tucker also gives some tips along the way on how to light similarly using speedlights.

What I like about this tutorial is that it takes you through the entire process of a shoot, including incorrect exposures and how to fix them. Noticing when something isn’t quite right and knowing what steps need to be taken to fix them is a skill on its own. It makes the tutorial slightly longer than just showing the calculated steps to a perfect image, but understanding the entire shooting process with adjustments being made is well worth the extra time watching.

The next two videos in the series will teach how to process and retouch your product images as well as how to cut them out to a white background for catalog display. To keep up on the series, you can subscribe to Tucker’s YouTube channel or check out his blog.

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Luc-Richard Elie's picture

I literally just spent the last 5 days assisting another photographer for a high end furniture shoot. Sean's Technique is pretty much spot on. Things do start getting tricky when you introduce shiny or reflective surfaces such as dressers, tables and lamps, so its good to have a black card or black fabric handy. Mirrors are a whole other animal.

james johnson's picture

I have been doing this a long time, to the point where most of what I do is instinctual. Then a clear and concise "basic" video like this comes along and reminds me of some of the things I need to think about rather than rely entirely on habit and a general feeling.

Having said that, I have one critique and a bit of advice for other photographers. His Youtube channel, like a lot of people's, is a mess. It is all over the place; videos of his pet, tutorials, videos about furniture, charity projects, music videos, test footage, etc.

So, here's my advice to this photographer and anyone else in the creative industry: Treat your Youtube/ vimeo channel like an online portfolio (which it is). You need to curate it, organize it, and only leave your best stuff up there to view. Have a separate personal channel if you need it, but definitely put your best public face forward in the one you use for professional work.

Spy Black's picture

As Luc mentioned, dealing with reflective products is another challenge, however there's much great info here for those considering this. It's very nice of this fellow to make this video.

In a studio I freelance in, they actually use neutral-gray backgrounds. While this helps maintain corner and edge highlights in certain dressers, large beds and other large objects, it tends suck the life out of the product sides and edges. I have to add color and density balancing in post. It's a trade-off, in pure white backgrounds you can sometimes blow out edge data from bleed to the point where you can't retrieve it using (for instance) HDR controls in Capture One, but I personally refer white over gray.

Mark Davidson's picture

This article was very useful in touching on the areas one need to pay attention to in a product shoot. However he placed his gray card ON the colored chair to use as his reference AFTER he cautions us to have a neutral shooting environment. IME this will not make a huge difference as the chair is not dramatically colored but I am sure he would have re-thought the position of the card if the chair had been red.

Jimmy Boko's picture

This is great! A lot of people are mentioning that reflective surfaces are more tricky to shoot, so is anyone aware of good tutorials that cover shooting glossy furniture etc... ?