How to Setup Lighting for Close Up Product Shots

On this video, photographer Curtis Judd takes a look at a subject that many of us face – how to best light a product shot over a white background and get the best result.

So let’s say that you have a small product that you want to shoot on a white background – how would you light it? if you do it from the side you risk getting nasty shadows so your best bet is to light it from above. Direct light however can be a bit harsh (depending on the specific light you use) so you need a way to defuse the light – a softbox or even a simple umbrella can be a solution.

Next you need to consider the lighting. When you are shooting a product on a white surface you might end up with blown highlights. To avoid this you need to work with a histogram (many modern cameras have a live histogram and zebra stripes if you are doing video). Make sure that you never get the right spike beyond the end of the histogram that way you know that you are exposing correctly.

There is one thing that Judd didn’t really cover in this video and we shall look into in detail in one of our upcoming reviews and that is the position of the camera. He simply used a tripod and shot at an angle. However if you want to shot 90 degrees straight down you will need to find another solution. You can check out our video setup of this DIY Overhead Camera Rig and as we stated we have another, much simpler and cheaper option product coming on soon.

We have looked at product photography in the past and you can also check out more of Judd’s videos here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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