When we think about photoshoot essentials, we often picture the big, exciting pieces of equipment:the camera, the lenses, the light, the modifiers. However, today, I’m sharing the unsung heroes in my kit. Here are five small, inexpensive, but essential bits of kit for styling product photography photos.
I use white tack on pretty much every single photoshoot. Sometimes, I’ll be working against a wall and I’ll want to quickly tack up a lightweight vinyl. A few blobs of tack do the job perfectly. Similarly, if I have a product like a bottle that’s rolling around while I’m trying to get an overhead shot, a little tack on the back will stick it in its place right away.
Sometimes, the backdrops and vinyls I use won’t sit flat because I might have rolled them up to transport them to the shoot location. A layer of double-sided tape will keep them flush to the table instantly. There’s really an infinite number of ways I use tack on set, and it's guaranteed I will need it every time.
Tweezers are really handy to move delicate bits and pieces around a set without crushing something with your thumb and forefinger. They’re ideal for really small, subtle movements that you just can’t make with your hands. If you’re working with something like jewelry and you don’t want to leave ugly thumbprints, tweezers are perfect for adjusting pendants, charms, and other delicate chains.
Water Mixed With Vegetable Glycerin
I have a few small spray bottles filled with an equal mix of water and vegetable glycerin. I use this on food photography shoots to add a sparkle to things like tomatoes and salad leaves, but it can be great in product photography for things like bathroom or beauty products, where you might spray the front of a jar or bottle to get that lovely, fresh glisten.
A lot of items on my product photography shoots will need a bit of propping and support to manipulate height and add lift. Makeup wedges are great for this, and they can be wedged underneath tubs, tubes, and bottles. You can always stack a few together if you need extra height or cut them with scissors to make smaller, more delicate pieces for smaller items.
Having a fanned makeup brush (that’s only used for your set, not your face!) is useful for clearing. If you’ve made a scattering of something small and delicate like chamomile flowers, rose petals, or other ingredients and you want to clear them off the set, use the brush with a more delicate stroke than coming in with your hand or a tea towel. It’s good to give the scene a bit of a brush down to remove distractions like stray cotton, thread, dust, crumbs, hair, or anything that shouldn’t be there.
Lint-Free Paper Towels
Cleaning surfaces between shots can be necessary if the sets you’re putting together are messy or there are spills of oils, paint, crumbs, or whatever. Using lint-free paper towels is a great option because you won’t drag little bits of tissue all over the place that the camera will pick up.
It’s not always the flashiest or most obvious pieces of kit that will save the day on your photoshoots. If you haven’t already, create a box or bag of these inexpensive but super helpful items so that the next time you need to add a bit of height, a spritz of water or to move something carefully, you have just the tool you need at your fingertips. I’d love to know what other tools you use in your product styling work!