Photographing Beauty Products

by William Lulow

As I have said before, commercial photographers are often called upon to shoot all sorts of things besides people. They have to have the know-how and equipment necessary to make products as well as people, look good.

Recently I completed the second day of shooting for Jill Harth Cosmetics This time it was lipsticks and lip gloss. The setup actually included three soft boxes, all balanced with the same power to give the set an even light. I used a large one on the left, medium on top and a small one on the right.

Here was the setup:

I wanted to have a medium-sized softbox directly above the products to give a smooth highlight on top as well as light the background evenly.

Here is one of the results:

You can see the effectiveness of that softbox by looking at the highlight on the top of the lipstick. Notice how smooth it is and how it reflects the color perfectly and gives it some depth! This was also a shadowless light that required absolutely no retouching! The vertical highlight on the product makes it look even longer than it is and adds an even quality to the light. This is the type of effect you should be seeking when shooting products, especially reflective ones.

Here’s another example:

This was a silver container. Note the even lighting and how the product “pops.”

Here is Jill working her magic on her own products:

These images were basically for Jill’s website. All images were shot with an ISO of 100, 1/100th of a second at f/13. Power on my Dynalite M1000 packs was on 125 watt/seconds (one its lowest settings).