8 Common Post-production Mistakes in Product Photography

After watching series of our Studio Photography Insights G+ Hangouts I’ve noticed common mistakes photographers do, and created this post to highlight them and help to solve based on eight examples. These images I have selected form our weekly assignments submissions, done by our hangout and assignments participants.
These are very easy and fat fixes, but they change the final look drastically.

1. Not White Enough Background

If you choose to have a white background, it should be white, not grey. If you want grey background it should be more pronounceable  grey, better with a gradient.

photo by Boris Matijasevic

2. Uneven Horizontal Line (not leveled shot)

Use level to make sure your table and camera are horizontal. After the shot, you can use guides in Photoshop to check a horizontal line. It should be strict horizontal, unless it was planned to be different.

photo by Chris Kryzanek


3. Not Clean(ed) Photo

Make sure you clean all the dust, imperfections, sensor dirt spots and uneven gradients. An image looks very unprofessional with all this stuff on it.

photo by Mike Broderick

4. Not Enough Contrast

Use Level or Curves in Photoshop to add contrast to your subject. Contrast will make your photo pop.


photo by Amoringello

5. Not Bright Enough what should be Bright and Contrast (text on the labels, ornament, watch hands etc.)

Use Dodge tool, or Dodge and Burn Technique to make part of the subject be brighter where it is needed.

photo by C. Rodenius

6. Wrong White Balance

Adjust a white balance in Adobe Camera Raw or using Curves in Photoshop. I’ve added brightness and contrast to this image as well.

photo by whiskers2828

7. Not Correct Perspective

Unless you have ability to tilt and shift your lens, use transform tool to correct perspective.

photo by Tim Kou

8. Not Realistic /Not good looking Reflection(s)

Unless you have a separate shot for a real reflection, it is better not to have a reflection at all. Example is below: I’ve left just a little reflection form the stones to give an idea about reflectiveness of the surface, but removed the rest of it. Even though it was a real reflection (sorry, we though it was fake at first), it took to much attention from the subject.

photo by Kim Roos

Hope this will help you guys to understand that post production is extremely important in product photography, and it is not wise to EVER post images as-is, even if you got a pretty good result out form a camera.

Good luck, Genia:-)


28 comments to 8 Common Post-production Mistakes in Product Photography

  • Nice work. I learned a few things.

  • Oscar Díaz

    I don´t understand at all the 7th example. could you explain it :D please?. i only find that have change a little bit of size.

  • The reflection in the ‘false reflection’ example looks legit to me. Otherwise great tips!

  • Ruben

    Thank you for this. Very very useful list of tips and guidelines.

  • Karl, you are right. It looks like a real one, we did not realize it first. In any case it was too destructive and has to be dimmed , blurred or removed.
    Thank you for bringing attention to this!

  • This is also a perfect example why photographers shouldn’t think “getting it right in camera” is the be all end all. Sure there are some things that absolutely need to be done on the set/at the moment but others require you to learn how to clean up in post as well as taking precautions while shooting. Such as leaving enough space around the image so it’s perspective can be adjusted in post without having to manufacture new background or shooting the background without the subject in case you do have to manufacture it and Photoshop isn’t working for you. The other side of this is to get to know a great retoucher.

    These are all great tips but folks, don’t think it stops with a click of the shutter. If you learn how to do better post work, you’ll be ahead of the people who think it can all be done in-camera.

  • Chuck Rennick

    Very well presented.
    Wish all students and working Photographers or Photographer – want- to- be’s would could see and understand your statements. Hope you will keep up this effort to improve photography for everyone.
    Well done.

  • Number 7 – the colour of the beer and the lack of bubbles look to be a worse problem than the perspective because the product in a product shot should look like the product (maybe that should be No. 9).

  • Great post Genia! Thanks for the tips. Sometimes just taking a break from the photo and coming back to it helps to see more trees in the forest so to speak.

    Oscar – Notice how the bottle is leaning to the right and back a bit. If you use the transform type tools in Photoshop you can correct that. Hope this helps.

  • Al

    A number of the points you make can be accomplished “in camera” by a photographer willing to take the time to shoot as if it was film in the camera. As a matter of fact, most of those things used to be done in camera, like getting the white background white, or accurate horizontals and verticals (I have a grid in my viewfinder to assist in that), or getting the white balance correct or getting the exposure right (brightness is generally an issue of exposure).

  • Some very useful tipps in here. But I could not make out the difference in the leveled shot to be honest :(

  • lcar

    Thanks! I always enjoy your articles!

  • Nice tips.
    One observation, in a watch photography the time must be set at 10:10 and 36 sec.

  • Nice work and great insight! thanks.

  • The first thing I noticed on example #2 was that the glass needs to be turned to the left slightly as the label is off center. :-)

  • KluZz

    The blackened out reflection just looks weird and photoshopped. If you think the reflection is too pronounced, by all means dim it down, but do it in a consistent or gradual way that makes it look natural. Right now it just looks messed up.

  • Sala

    Dear Genia! What do you think about less and too much sharpening? I use high pass layer and I often hink it too much. Please help!

  • Very good article. But I can not understand the difference of #2, a more detailed explanation will be better. Thank you for sharing!

  • Daniel

    The bottle looks quite wider in the base, while too thin in the top, similar to a building when you look at it from the ground, it is best to make it look more straight, lesa distorted, that was it años looks moré impresiveand majestic, Benavides perspective tenda to guide your sight or view in a particulr direction, and you might just need then to focus in the entire product

  • Saji Sarangadhar

    I agree with that……I ‘ve the same opinion about the work ” The wrist watch and the reflection “

  • Saji Sarangadhar

    This blog helps in photography
    Nice tips
    …Thanks a lot

  • Mansour Dib

    Pas mal ces informartions ;…

  • AMoringello

    I think an important step in it all, at least for someone like me who doesn’t normally do this sort of photography, is to take a big step back and look at it with fresh non-subjective eyes.
    I spent an hour or two cleaning spots, removing scratches, brightening dark areas, creating/removing reflections, and adding contrast and brightness, etc….
    In the end it was a huge improvement over the original. But by that time, my eyes were watering and I was going cross-eyed. :-) ;-)

    Now when you look at the before/after above side-by-side, it is clear that I could have gone further with brightening up some areas and adding contrast.

    Alex, Genia, it is great that you take the time to post these sorts of tips.
    I have gone back to a few product shots I have done in the past and see with new eyes what I can do (er, should have done) with them.

  • Oscar Díaz

    Thnaks a lot, now it´s clearly than before :). Excelent work!

  • I shoot a lot of product and what keeps my clients coming back are clean tight paths. Granted, most of what I do is for catalog but clean paths is very important to clients.

    Before I send a file and after doing the preliminary path, I set the mask and drop a black or white background behind it (actions, actions, actions). I can see any weird point, fringe, curve, etc.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Jorge Ivan

    Good reminders. Thank you.

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