Product shots are great pieces to have in your invention portfolio. They complement a description and business plan, prototype, and elevator pitch to create an all-inclusive invention package. Although hiring a professional photographer is the ideal situation, it can get expensive. With a high-quality camera, a great backdrop, and some patience, you can shoot great product photography for your invention.
High-quality images are essential in product photography. If possible, rent a DSLR camera from a website or local rental shop. A DSLR is a digital camera combining the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor. If you haven’t used a camera like this before, check out a book from the library or take a community photography class. The pictures you are taking will be quite basic, but it is great to know some professional photography skills. If you’re unable to get a DSLR camera, your smartphone may do the trick. Many smartphone cameras have more than 10 megapixels; with the Samsung Galaxy S6 boasting 16 McP, so it is possible to take high-resolution images with a smartphone. Stability is incredibly important with a smartphone, however. If you have access to a mini-tripod, that will work well, as will leaning on a counter or utilizing the timer on your camera to reduce shaking when the button is pushed. Take a variety of pictures of your invention. If you need to give some context to your image, such as pushing a button, pulling a lever, or including an essential accessory, it is okay to do so as long as it doesn’t make your pictures look busy. The key here is variety. Take many pictures so that you can evaluate and critique them later.
If you don’t have access to studio lighting, natural lighting is probably your best bet. Shoot in an open room with large, northern facing windows which let in natural light. The best time to shoot is when the most light will be in the room, probably from 10 am to 2pm. If there is a harsh sunbeam coming in through a window, wait a few minutes for that to pass. Depending on the time of day, the colors and shadows in your images can look drastically different, so try shooting at various times. Although the flash can be beneficial in some situations, beware of your camera’s flash when taking close-up pictures because it may wash out details through overexposure or give the shot harsh shadows. Reflecting light with white poster board near the subject (but out of the shot) will enhance the lighting in your photo. If you have access to image editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop or a free alternative, you can alter the lighting and coloration of your pictures after the fact if the need arises.
There are advantages to using plain backgrounds as well as natural scenery. You should have both types of shots in your invention photography portfolio. Plain background shots can be used to focus on the design, colors, features, and materials of your product. A white or cream-colored wall, sheet held taut, or large piece of paper will make an ideal background for these types of shots. To show your invention in use, consider showing it in its natural environment for extra, more editorial pictures. However, remove any unnecessary clutter in the background of the image. For example, if you are showing the function of a lawn care invention, grab a friend or family member and have them model for you using the item outside in the grass. If you have a home improvement product, use a little elbow grease and show your audience how well your it works. Shooting in this type of environment can also give a viewer a sense of scale so they have a better idea of the product’s size.
For an inventor who likes to DIY or is on a budget, shooting your own product photography can be a great alternative to hiring a professional photographer. Product photography enhances your product’s marketability and should be a consideration for every budding inventor.
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