The Hero Shot: How To Light And Composite Product Photography

The Hero Shot

The Hero Shot is a 13 hour video tutorial on product photography taught by Commercial Photographer and Digital Artist Brian Rodgers Jr. This video is a digital download and can be watched immediately after purchasing. The video files in this tutorial are unlocked and can be watching on a computer, phone, tablet, or TV. 

Who is Brian Rodgers Jr. 

Brian Rodgers Jr. got into product photography shortly after leaving a corporate career working on a 3D team. In 2016 Brian became a part-time writer for and within just a few months became the highest rated product photographer on the Fstoppers Community. Brian has taught himself the skills needed to produce world-class product photography without the need for a studio or expensive gear. 

Where The Tutorial Begins

Chances are, you don't have a big studio. Well, neither does Brian. He shoots products for companies all around the country out of his home studio. For the first lesson in this tutorial Brian wanted to prove that capturing an incredible shot doesn't have anything to do with your studio or your gear.  Brian uses three inexpensive lights to create a product image of a cordless Drill.

By combining a few different exposures and adding a background in Photoshop, he was able to create this image.

For the next shot, Brian uses another cheap option for lighting; speedlights. By lighting a single perfume bottle and then duplicating it in Photoshop, Brian was once again able to come away with a simple, yet beautifully lit photograph without relying on expensive gear. 

All Image Files Are Included

Whether you like it or not, Photoshop is an absolute necessity in the world of product photography. Almost every image of a product you have ever seen in an advertisement has been created with some sort of compositing techniques. For that reason, a large part of this tutorial takes place in Photoshop where Brian teaches the techniques he has mastered to produce professionally edited photos quickly and easily. All of the files that Brian uses to create his shots will also be available to you for following along in Photoshop.

What Gear Does Brian Use

Brian is adamant that the gear you use does not matter and that almost any camera, lens, and lighting system will work. So for the sake of this tutorial, Brian uses a range of different gear to help you master his techniques regardless of what equipment you own yourself. 

Brian shoots with a Sony A7RII and a Canon 24-105mm lens but he always tethers his camera to a computer. This allows both Brian, and you the viewer, to view each shot directly through his camera. Every time Brian moves the product or a light, you'll be able to see and understand how the changes affect the overall product shot. 

For the lighting in this tutorial, Brian uses a variety of light sources including hot lights, speedlights, and Profoto strobes. The light itself doesn't really matter, but the modifiers are important and throughout this tutorial Brian uses countless store-bought and DIY modifiers to sculpt the perfect light. After watching this tutorial, no matter what your budget is, you'll be able to use the tools you have to replicate Brian's style. 

Shooting multiple products

You might think that shooting a pair of speakers would only require a single shot, but Brian shoots all of his products separately. This gives him total control in post-production to change the composition after the shoot is over. If the client ever wants to make a subtle or extreme change in the final product photo, Brian's method makes it extremely easy to give the client exactly what they want.

Making Products Levitate

We've all seen images of products levitating but how do they do it? Sure, you could cut it out in Photoshop, but if your product is laying on the ground, you won't be able to light it realistically. Brian uses a dowel rod attached to a video game controller to "float" it above his set. After adding a simple background in Photoshop, he was able to turn a well light image into another incredible advertising style photograph. 

Focus Stacking

When shooting small products with a macro lens, depth of field may become an issue. For example, when shooting a watch, most brands want every aspect of the watch to be tack sharp. Brian teaches his favorite way to light a watch while also focus stacking the image to make sure the entire watch is as sharp as possible. 

Managing reflections

Shooting reflective objects can be the most difficult part of product photography. Brian wanted to film an entire lesson on reflections and decided to shoot a set of cutlery, the most reflective, and oddly shaped products imaginable. Using a few techniques and DIY lighting modifiers, he was able to control the reflections and come away with a clean and elegant final shot. 

Creating A Small Set

For the final shot, Brian wanted to take all of the information taught in this tutorial and use it to stage and light a complex set. In the end, he was able to come away with a great looking image straight out of the camera but with a little bit of Photoshop, he was able to perfect it into something portfolio worthy. 

This Download Includes:

  • 9 Video Files (25 GB, 1080p 23.98fps h.264 mp4 files)
  • Over 13 Hours of Content
  • All High Res Images Included 
  • Brian's Full Story
  • Intro to Post Production
  • 7 Unique Final Photographs
  • Brian's Entire Post Production Workflow
  • Access to Brian's secret The Hero Shot Facebook Group

*All refunds are outlined in our terms of service.


If you want to learn how Brian Rodgers Jr. works and his teaching style, we have uploaded a free stand alone lesson to Youtube. In the video below, Brian teaches you how you can light an entire liquor bottle with just one speedlight and some clever photoshop compositing. This video should give you an idea on how Brian approaches his photography and will give you a better idea of how this entire tutorial is laid out. 

Download this 13 Hour Tutorial
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We are really interested in this tutorial, is it just possible to know a bit more in detail that what this 13 hours of content include? does it include ALL the workflow for all the 7 photos we see up there, from the beginning to the end?

I do not see any mention of information about the "business side" of his product photography. Is there nothing about that?

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Correct, I don't go into the business side of photography. However, Monte Isom has a killer Fstoppers tutorial on the business of photography. I highly recommend checking it out. While he's working at the higher end of the market and not specifically in product photography, he interviews all types of businesses in various industries and a lot of the information in the tutorial can be applied to smaller markets as well. Here's the link:

Antonio Bokšić's picture

This is awesome!

Rolang Grother's picture

Any "shitty" product can be put into a good light by a prof/inspired photographer

Trying to save up for this one... looks just like the direction I am headed and in a very similar manner as I have been post processing other people's photos for 25 years and just now moving into photographing my own products in studio. Really like the final results that Brian is able to create!

This looks more like digital retouching than anything.

I haven't seen it, but of course! The art, I would think is to imagine what you need to highlight (I think the hardest part of this, BTW) and then taking the *right* images to composite. What I like is that using simple tools he is catching all the spot and highlighting that normally might take many, many hot lights or strobes to achieve. Loot at setups for product photography several years ago (pre-digital). Old Pop Photos or Moderns ran "How To" or behind the scenes segments. Some of them looked like Frankenstein's lab! And then you had to shoot polaroids to know you were getting the balance you wanted. That meant having a camera that even had a polaroid adapter (Hassies and high end Canon, Nikon). View cameras also got a lot of call for this work, especially things like the watches. And then, of course was the curse of color balancing for magazine reproduction! Ahh, the good old days!

Hi my zipped files from 06-09 are not opening for some reason, how should I proceed to re-downlloading the corse?

You are great Photographer no doubt and you have also great post-production concept.

Wes Jones's picture

Just purchased and am downloading content. Looking forward to getting started!

Hello from France,

Your photos are awesome, really!
Nice composition and ambience, marvellous work on lights and impressive retouching.
I'am a french photographer and I would like to know if you will make soon a training video on architecture and flash painting (like we can see on your website)?
If that is the case I would be interested.

Best regards from france


Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Thanks William! I really appreciate the feedback! I don't have any plans to make an Fstoppers tutorial on architectural photography, but I sure appreciate the interest! Mike Kelley has that pretty well covered already ;) Definitely check out his series, they're great! Thanks!

Looks great!! but what lens adapter does he use?

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