How to Capture White Background Packshots with Only 2 Lights Simple white background setup

In this video professional photographer, Karl Taylor demonstrates a very simple technique for shooting a series of White background packshots using a simple two-light setup.

Packshots 101

Packshots are images typically used for advertising products either on packaging and labeling, catalogs, or eCommerce websites (think online retailers such as Amazon as one example).

Contrary to common belief, not all packshots are captured against white backgrounds, however white is very common as it allows the customer to easily mask the product and use it as part of a composite image with text and other graphical elements.

For the most part, packshots are meant to be captured in relatively quick succession since you might have dozens and in some cases hundreds of products to shoot from some customers (in this area it is not uncommon to get projects involving even 1000 products or more and you really need to consider every second that you spend on each product both shooting and in post).

This is the main reason why it is so important to perfect your setup when shooting a large number of similar packshots. Taylor’s setup in this video is simple but can work for quite a few products. Mind you this product is not reflective and is mostly white. Reflective objects and objects with more complex color patterns can be more of a challenge (and we typically have a different rate for them).

2 lights white background product photography

Taylor uses a white glossy acrylic surface as the base for his shoot. His background is also white and he uses some white top plate (mostly to simulate a lower ceiling although most white ceilings will work fine.

Taylor explains that he will typically light the background with two lights but for this simple setup he will use just a single strobe placed on a low to the ground stand and pointed at the background at about a 45-degree angle with a bit of diffusion on the reflector. Try and put the light far away from the background so you will be able to get a nice spread across the background.

Taylor choose a white product (which can sometimes seem more complicated to shoot on a white background) placed at about a 30-degree angle from the camera which uses around an 80mm focal length lens (in his case about 100mm on a MF body).

It is a very good idea to measure the whiteness of the background after taking the first shot. Taylor is doing this by shooting tethered which is always recommended for these types of shots. Depending on the software you use you should be able to see the numbers relating to the color of the background when you hover with your mouse across it.

Your aim is 255/255/255 for white. However, the best way to go is to be slightly below and then increase the power of the background strobe slightly to get that 255/255/255 white background.

Now we move over to the main light. Taylor recommends using the biggest softbox you have to create a soft light on your product. He places it on one side at about the same height as the product. The other side of the product doesn’t get enough exposure so for this you will need to add a small white reflector to bounce the light.

This should be enough for a basic packshot series, however, it is possible that the area below your product is not white enough. A great trick Taylor offers here is to bring the camera lower (not by too much just a tiny bit). You can also increase the light on the background or do some work in post (which as we mentioned can be a bit problematic if you are working on a large number of packshots.

You can check out more of Karl Taylor’s videos we posted in the past here on LensVid. You can find a great deal of information about product photography in our special product photography section (and you might also find useful Martin Botvidsson’s tutorial on shooting white products on white Backgrounds).

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of LensVid.com. 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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