Tabletop photography II

The tabletop photography gives photographers the chance to hone their craft and develop their abilities and skills regardless of time, weather and lighting situation. Lights, backgrounds, props-in short, everything that defines an picture are under the control of the creator, who can design scenes that range from objective to realistic to elaborate. 

Tabletop photography basics

Whether there is the intention to take pictures for products, foundation exposures for composite images, or you just want to capture a culinary scene, shoe-mount flashes can take you quite far.  These flash units are small, light, and battery operated. Therefore you don’t have to worry about extension cords and power outlets. But more important is the fact that these types of flashes are widespread. A lot of photographers have these flashes as a part of the basic equipment.

There are only a few things that influence the exposure of a photo. The focal length of the lens determines the perspective, the aperture defines the depth of field, the focus determines what will appear sharp in the picture and the lighting is basically the mood of an image. The advantage working in a studio means the photographer is in the position of being able to control all these factors and there are countless variations for exposing a single subject. 

Sharpness and Blur

Furthermore to determining the depth of field, the aperture also defines the degree of blur. Blur and sharpness have an quite big influence on the the look and vibe of the photography. As a result they could make an objective impression or otherwise a romantic impression. Because all elements of the tabletop shoot are under the control of the photographer, there is no limit to affect the sharpness and blur by changing the aperture. There is also the possibility to adjust the composition of the picture or the relative distances among each of the elements of the image. This means, for example, that an element can be placed by intention, beyond the depth of field to give the impression of a greater space or to separate the elements of the image more clearly. 

The distance of the main subject from the background of an image and the positioning of the focus lines during an exposure are of the utmost importance. They help you to develop the sense of space in your pictures, or in other words lead the viewer to pay attention to important details.

Focal length

The choice of focal length also affects the effect of an exposure. A wide angle lens makes objects in the foreground appear larger and allows you to include a larger background. In contrast, a telephoto lens compresses a photo to make it appear more compact and also shows less background in relation to the main subject of the image. A standard lens, often a macro lens for tabletop photography, displays objects the same way the human eye sees them, so it is useful for product shots where you want an objective perspective.

The wider the opening, the smaller the depth of field at which the subject appears acceptably sharp.


The most important design tool of a photographer is light or the ability to change the quality of light through shapes. Shaping light in this sense has two meanings: First, photographers can shape the light themselves to be flat, pointed, hard, soft, scattered, etc. Second, light shapers enable photographers to stylize their subjects by modulating the lighting to match their photographic ideas. This is the exact process – what we call photography – that enables us to create two-dimensional images of objects based solely on the interplay of light and shadow.

Design with a purpose

Last but not least, a photographer’s creative instinct and effective composition are essential factors for a successful image. This includes choosing the right background, taking appropriate props and establishing a visual style that matches the subject/object. The photographer needs to stay objective when creating product shots and knowing when it is appropriate to use the photography to tell an emotional story.

When working professionally, the intended purpose of a photo should always be the primary influence on the visual design. The elaborate staging of a screw with multi-colored lighting and strong focus could work very well for the cover of a product catalog, but the same image would not be suitable for conveying objective information. To do this, it is better to make a clear product shot in which all the details of the screw are presented neutrally.

This also applies to the world of amateur photography, of course. Whether you are creating a product collection or taking a picture for an invitation, you should always consider the context in which the photo will be used and the effect the picture is going to have on the Person who sees it.

Know technology by heart

Proper use of the required technology requires both knowledge of how it works and a certain amount of experience from its regular use. The combination of this knowledge and experience helps to use the devices in a targeted and intuitive manner.

Therefore it is a great idea to set up some assignments for yourself from time to time and practice creating multiple photographic variations of the same subject. Your subject can be an everyday object staged under different lighting conditions, or it can be a broader theme, e.g. B. Representations of glass or transparent objects or even abstract images of aroma, coolness, softness or the like. Compare the results of the images you have created and determine which techniques have produced the best results.

After all, it is always good to ask yourself the following questions before starting a shoot:

– Will my plan achieve the desired result?

– Will the background and props serve the message you want?

– Are the subject and the background properly lit?

– Is the viewer’s gaze drawn to the important details of the picture?

– Does the selected focal length, perspective and depth of field match the subject?

– Is the focus on the optimal shot?