One of the biggest challenges in conceptualising product photography projects is how to achieve premium looking visuals without spending a fortune on props and backdrops. Luckily with some clever workarounds you can still get a luxury look without having to restrict your creative vision!
Achieving professional-looking product imagery, without needing to spend a lot of money, simply requires a trip to your local craft store for materials to create custom-made props
Here are some ideas to get those creative ideas flowing for your next product shoot using 5 basic craft materials that are inexpensive and easy to customise.
There are many ways you can incorporate coloured construction paper or card to achieve commercial effects in product photography. It might even be the holy grail of cheap and versatile materials for your next shoot! Here are some of our favourite ways to use it:
One of our favourite techniques is to create eye-leading angles by making use of the corners of the paper to draw attention to your subject. You can arrange layers of the same colour at different heights to create intriguing shapes and depth through shadow. For more paper styling ideas, you’ll love reading our top ways to achieve commercial photography effects using just paper.
When rolled, paper can have a beautiful curve that you can use to add interest to your image. These examples from Erica from @ferraronierica show us the impact that embracing your paper’s natural curves can have in both still life and flatlay style photography. The result is both effortless and sophisticated - we love the look of the natural paper texture as well.
Getting crafty and cutting out paper shapes isn’t just for kids! It can be a fun, creative way of producing custom props for your next shoot. Paper is a simple way to build on a colour story and make unique props to add to your scene like in these examples created by Creatively Squared for Pure Paw Paw.
This is a fun and impactful effect that you can create using paper. Start by cutting a small hole in your paper then tear sections outwards until you can fit your hand through. You may want to experiment with how you create the punched-through effect and leave the edges looking a little rough for added impact!
Got a huge piece of cardboard? They can be the perfect prop to create a lifesize fake window like this amazing example by Anja Burgar from @useyournoodles. Simply lay out the window on the cardboard with a pencil and then cut them out using a cardboard cutter. Now you can use them to create dramatic shadows from a window side scene!
Whether you purchase them from the store, or repurpose leftover packaging materials, foam balls and blocks can have new life on a photoshoot and create imaginative and surreal visual effects.
Polystyrene balls are a versatile medium to use when you want cheap, repetitive shapes as props on your shoot. Check out the surreal floating effect created by Jemma (@styledbyjemma) who used an acrylic glass to give the appearance of balls floating in midair.
If you don't have a sheet of acrylic or glass on hand you can also try suspending balls or objects using sticks and just remove them afterward in post-production.
Have fun with your set design by incorporating foam balls. Take this image from Marissa (@marissaaldencreative) for example where she spray-painted different sizes of foam balls into the same colour palette as the product for a simple yet fun setup.
Another way to create a unique and surreal effect is by using artfully arranged foam blocks. Watch how Ana Gubca from @spectrum.pro.studio pulled off a fun balancing act for her product shoot. Her secret? Just pure Photoshop wizardry!
This malleable medium is useful for positioning and suspending items - upwards or down! In this example creator Izabela from @foto.dzungla has used it to help position the cap of her product to appear like it is levitating.
Ribbon is something many people would have on-hand at home already and has plenty of creative uses as a photography prop. In the first example below, Ruth from @r2productpixels created an architectural wave by taping a wire behind the ribbon and fixed it to her set using blu tack. Or you can simply give it a little stylish twirl like this image we produced for Lakme.
Integrating fabric into your product shots or still life photography is another super simple way to add interest, texture and depth. You can even use clothing or linen from home such as bedsheets and tablecloths! In this example we swirled the fabric around the subject matter to create lines that lead your eyes right to the focal point.
For more creative ways to use fabric in product styling check out our blog 5 creative ways to use fabric in product photography
Don't have any specialised platforms or risers to use as props? No need to buy any - you can simply use an assortment of affordable cardboard gift boxes to customise instead. Simply purchase a selection of different shapes and sizes and paint them the perfect colour to complement your shoot!
As you can see there are lots of arts and crafts materials that you can use as a prop to produce amazing photography effects on a budget. You'd only need creativity, imagination, and resourcefulness to achieve this.
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