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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Previous comments
Michele Anne's picture

He gives you a full gear list in the tutorial.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hi Justin, in order to use my Canon lenses on the Sony A7r2, I'm using the Metabones Mark IV Adapter - (Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Sony E Mount T Smart Adapter - Fifth Generation). They have a newer version available now. I'm also using the Sony 24-105mm f/4 on my Sony as my main lens at this point as well. Cheers

Thanks for that Brian, is the IS 11 USM or the older one?

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hey Justin Arblaster I was using the older version of the Canon 24-105mm

I watched the free lesson. Does the entire tutorial gloss over the details of post-processing like the free lesson did? I personally expect excruciating detail for a $300 investment.

It's pretty damn detailed. By and large, the lessons run 1.5–2 hours, from shoot to final touches in Photoshop.

Hey Brian,

I'm loving your course so far, and thank you for including your gear list. One thing you use constantly, which I didn't see in the list, though, is your remote. What're you using, and what do you recommend? Thanks!

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hey Adam, sorry if I forgot to put that item on the list. I actually did write an article a while back about the remote that I use. You can check out the article right here on Fstoppers: . Also, if you're tethering with Capture One, you can also just use the keyboard shortcut Command + K to fire your camera. Personally though, I like having a dedicated radio controlled remote. Cheers!

Product photography skill is pro level. Do you share all of the things that need to be a pro-level photographer within 13 hours right?

Awesome work! I noticed that in your "Apple Pie" bottle tutorial that you go heavily into PhotoShop. How detailed are you in the actual full tutorial "The Hero Shot", when it comes to showing the details in PS, i.e. buttons, etc; I'm not very skilled.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hi Len, I think my tutorial has a good mix of both studio and post production. I'd say it's about half an half. If you're not a pro at Photoshop, that's totally fine. I start very basic in the beginning of the tutorial, and get more complex as the tutorial progresses.

Remarkable work, Brian! This article and videos opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. I do have a question about the 13-hour course; would someone of limited knowledge of Photoshop be able to grasp your post-production workflow? I'm efficient in Lightroom but have really just scratched the surface of Photoshop (I've blended multiple images for some nightscape shots). Thanks in advance. - Matt L.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Thanks Matt Linsin! Just like anything worth doing, Photoshop takes time and practice to become proficient. I start off pretty simple with both Lightroom and Photoshop in the first couple of lessons. Then things get more advanced as the tutorial progresses. If you're at least familiar with Photoshop's interface, I think you'll be fine. One of the best parts of tutorials like these is that you can pause, rewind, fast forward and rewatch as needed. Cheers!

Please disregard my previous question. I just read some of the previous comments and questions that shed light on my question. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge. ML

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