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How to Use Office and Art Supplies for Product Photos

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Office Supplies Feature Image px

I do a lot of product photography and there are two places I go to when I need to prepare supplies for a shoot: one is the hardware store to get some tiles and the other is our local bookstore/art/office supply store.

I find it a bit hard to get branded and advertised photography accessories that you see product photographers are using here in the Philippines so I found my own way to use what I have locally and create my own gear to use for shooting products. In this article I’m going to share with you some tricks I use for product photography.

The things I buy from our local store:

  • Bond paper
  • Illustration board
  • Binder clips
  • Silver gift wrapping paper
  • Tracing Paper
  • Slider

Creating Small Reflectors and Fill Cards

The simplest yet most effective material I use for my shoots are my reflectors and fill cards. I have different shapes and sizes of fill cards depending on the shot that I need.

Office Supplies BTS (1)

To make a white fill card I start of by cutting a piece of illustration board in the shape and size that I need.

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I use the binder clips to make the illustration board stand.

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I have different shapes, colors, and sizes of fill cards. I sometimes just use a piece of bond paper if I need the fill card to be bent or curved.

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To make the silver reflectors I use a silver wrapping paper (that I also use for The El Bokeh Wall)

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I cut a piece of silver wrapping paper and tape it to my pre-cut illustration board.

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It’s advisable to have white, black and silver reflective cards for product photography.

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Creating a Scrim

Another good thing to have for product photography is a scrim, in other countries you can buy a big roll of tracing paper and it’s very easy to just roll it over your light stand and your done, but the biggest piece of tracing paper I can buy locally is a 20 by 30 inch piece of paper.

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This technique was inspired by a post I saw on Instagram. I start off by attaching the plastic folder slider to both sides of the tracing paper.

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I tape the slider to the tracing paper just to make sure it doesn’t come off.

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Attach it to your boom stand or C stand then, you have yourself a do-it-yourself scrim. Depending on the thickness of your tracing paper you might want to use two pieces of paper for one scrim.

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Here is a quick example on how I use my do-it-yourself scrims and fill cards for product photography.

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Office Supplies Vitae 1

How to Use It

Below are some examples on how I use the things I made and how I shoot some of my product photos. Let’s start with simple on white product photos.

If I want a reflective surface base I always use either my white granite tile for on white shots or black granite tile for my blacks.

I started off with placing an illustration board for my white background. I had a speedlight below the table pointing at the illustration board to make it white.

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After that I got a studio strobe with a softbox and placed it on the right side of my subject.

Office Supplies Light Meter (2)

To get some fill on the left side of the light meter I got a white fill board and placed it on the left side to reflect light coming from the back and right of the subject.

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Office Supplies Light Meter (3)

If you notice the left side of the light meter is still dark so I wanted to add some highlight or rim lighting to it. I got a Silver fill card and placed it close and towards the back left of the subject.

Office Supplies Light Meter (6)

In Photoshop I just used a white brush to clean the background and create a gradient on the reflection of the subject.

Office Supplies Light Meter

Final Image:

Office Supplies Light Meter Final

Still using the same setup I got another studio strobe with a softbox and placed it on the left side of the subject.

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Office Supplies Soda (2)

Notice how hard the reflection of the softbox is if you shoot it straight towards your subject. To get more gradient and softer reflections I used a scrim in front of the two softboxes.

Office Supplies Soda (1)

To get some light in front of the can I got a piece of bond paper and took several photos and moved the bond paper into different places until I lit all the labels in front of the can.

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Office Supplies Soda (4)

In Photoshop I used the layer mask and carefully brushed the parts I wanted lit. I will do a separate article on this method soon.

Office Supplies Soda (5)

Final result:

Office Supplies Soda final

Using LED Video Lights to Shoot a Watch

I started off with a bare Led coming from back left of the subject.

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Office Supplies Vitae 2 (2)

The bare LED video light is a bit harsh so to soften it I used a piece of tracing paper and just placed it in front of the light to create a small softbox. And to diffuse it some more I added the do-it-yourself scrim in front of the LED light.

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Office Supplies Vitae 2 (3)

To add some soft fill of light on the right side I got a big piece of illustration board and placed it on the right side of the subject.

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Office Supplies Vitae 2 (4)

Now to add some highlights on the right I added a small piece of Silver reflective fill card on the right.

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Office Supplies Vitae 2 (5)

The background was a little bit bare so like my last article where I used a plastic bag for my portrait I got the same plastic bag and placed it in the background.

I also got a white piece of illustration board and hand held it at the right side of the camera to get some highlights on the face of the watch.

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Office Supplies Vitae 2 (1)

Final result:

Office Supplies Vitae 2 Final

On Black Product Photography

Working with reflective surfaces is very challenging. This is where scrims and fill cards are really put to good use. I have a hard drive share center as my subject for this ‘on black product photography shot’.

I started off by placing two softboxes on the left and right of the subject to get some rim lighting on the front of the subject.

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To get some gradient reflections and light on the right side of the subject, I got a scrim and placed it beside the subject with some parts in front of my softbox and to the right.

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I placed another scrim on the left and front part of the subject to get some gradient reflection on the front of the subject.

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I wanted to add a curved reflection on both the front and side plate of the subject. To add the curved reflection I got a piece of bond paper, folded it and placed it on the left side of the subject.

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I did the same on the right side but placed a smaller piece of bond paper.

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I also wanted to try to add some colored patterns on the background, so I lowered my shutter speed and light painted it.

Final results:

Office Supplies ShareCenter Final (1)

Office Supplies ShareCenter Final (2)
Using a slower shutter speed and light painting

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