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3 lighting tips to tell a better brand story

Maarten van der Meer

You don't need a large budget or a fancy marketing team to get customers. doko invites experts in the fields of branding, advertising and marketing to share their experiences so you can successfully build your brand and grow your business.

If you sell or promote online, there is no excuse for using shoddy photos. Learn 3 tips on how to take great product, store photos with simple lighting techniques from photographer Maarten van der Meer. Let your brand, store or whatever you offer be a star.

Like always, the tips we share don't require a high budget, only caring. If you don't care about your business, who will?

When it comes to selling your products online it's the photo that has to do the work for you. Many people don't realize that and choose the simple way. Photography is painting with light and control of your light is basically the first step in creating a stunning image that sells. And a decent post-processing editing also comes in handy.

The general rule of thumb is to create soft light. No hard shadow lines. So along with your light you should use a light modifier. There are many options from expensive pro-grade softboxes to plain and simple white cardboard or Styrofoam or even mirrors.

Bouncing light from a big (white) surface onto your product will create a soft light gradient. Take this typical white background pack shot for example. I put a large Styrofoam board on the right side, two strobe lights on the background to make it white.

Fancl product photo shooting

The black board on the left (and also right) is used to prevent light from bouncing from the white background onto the subject.

Fancl products

Here with this 1:18 toy Corvette were also a few DIY light modifiers used. A large softbox with a strobe from above, close to the car's roof, to create a very soft light from above and one speedlight bouncing from a white card positioned against a can of tuna to direct light onto the wheels and side of the car. I partly blocked it with a black card to prevent unwanted light spill to the front of the car.

Corvette toy car photo shooting
Corvette car

Another point to keep in mind is to keep the background clean and simple, either by using a plain color or blur it out completely by shooting at wider apertures.

A third point to keep in mind is what I would call: story and action. The best shots have some action or story going on. You can experiment with freezing motion using water splashes.

Watsons water
Watsons water photo shooting

Using fast shutter speeds up to 1/500 of a second and lots of light and be sure to study a bit about high speed sync if you are using speedlights or strobes. Most studio lights will only give you 1/125-1/250 of a second, which is not fast enough for freezing fast motion such as water splashes.

Add extra items (called props) or less plain backgrounds to create a story. Ask yourself where does my product belong? Who must buy it? A man or a woman, a young fashionista or elderly people? A white or plain color background can give a consumer a clear look of the product, but doesn't necessarily make him or her want to buy it. However, creating a story around it often can! Think about the often seen home decoration photography or cosmetic and fashion lifestyle images. Be creative and dare to invest!

A picture is worth a thousand words. get a storyteller to tell your story!

About The Author

Maarten van der Meer
Maarten van der Meer, Freelance photographer

I and my team tell stories of different kinds. We passionately visualise the images you need. In a genuine and natural way we capture your personality, your products and style and tell your story. My main purpose is product and car photography, fashion and beauty portraits. I also provide bilingual workshops on various topics and photowalks for beginners, bringing together photo enthusiasts in a fun and social way to learn photography and develop their style.

Visit my website and come say hello.

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