How I use the Olympus EM5 MkII for Product Photography
6 Months ago I took an in house position as a marketing person and a studio photographer for an online store. It was a very new experience for me as I haven’t had a lot of experience in product photography. Why I got the job you ask? It’s for the marketing and social media experience. Knowing one skill is all well and good, but a diverse set of skills can be pretty desirable. More on that in a later post.
I went into this job with my own camera, which is an Olympus EM5 MkII and a 12-40mm 2.8. A setup I wasn’t sure about, as I always thought you needed high megapixels for product shots. Turns out like most jobs I’ve had over the years, they’re all going online. Even though the EM5 MkII’s high res mode can give me massive and highly detailed product shots, it all looks same at 1000×1000 72dpi.
A pallet full of chandeliers behind me ready to be shot.
Trial and Error
Again, I didn’t have a whole lot of experience shooting in a controlled environment. When you’re on location, a lot of the lighting and framing decisions are already made for you based on surroundings. You’re in a sandbox and it’s up to you how to play.
But in a studio, you are the one controlling the sandbox, and that was new to me.
Use a tripod
I stupidly started shooting handheld, thinking I can plow through my product shots a lot quicker. With enough light my shutter speed is fast enough that I won’t need a tripod.
Obviously this was a mistake as product shots side by side will need to be on a consistent angle and size. Without it, viewers won’t see the scale between a King-sized bedhead to a Queen-sized bedhead.
Photoshop played a larger part in my workflow way more than I thought it would.
I’m a fan of Lightroom. It’s neat and it’s powerful. A lot of the adjustments I’ve gotten away with simply using Lightroom. The product shots that was required of me I needed a pure and consistent background. Not pure white, but a slightly grey gradient. This means I would either have to light it in a specific way to great that effect, or do it in Photoshop. As I have a plethora of products ranging from shiny gold vases to long 4-seater sofas, creating the gradient effect in post was a no-brainer.
One of my first product shots. The background is inconsistent and a little patchy. After learning on the job I since went back and fixed up a bunch of early work.
That’s me. I’m far from being a studio pro, but I like to say I’m bright enough and quick enough to learn and deliver. I’ll always be in this happy/anxious state in photography because it’s a place where I can learn the most in my own weird way.
PS: See more product shots here