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Archive 2013 · How to properly photograph handbags?
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · How to properly photograph handbags?

I'm extremely new to lighting as all of my photos have been using natural light. My wife told me this morning that she wants to sell some of her handbags and start helping her friends sell theirs as well. Not going to be listing on eBay but other websites. Obviously I can let het handle everything herself but I can't stand back and watch her take and upload pictures taken with her smartphone.

I'm using an EM-1 plus getting another RX1 soon. Have no other lighting equipment outside of the included flash with the EM-1 purchase. While I'm willing to put some money into this, I'd like to keep it a minimum. If I can somehow use the equipment for portraits of our daughter that would be even better.

I appreciate all the help.

Dec 04, 2013 at 01:11 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · How to properly photograph handbags?

It will depend somewhat on what material each handbag is made of. For example, if it's canvas you may want to use a hard light skimming across the surface to reveal the texture, if it's leather or vinyl you may need to use a large source to reduce glare, etc.

The good news is that whatever lighting equipment you get, you can almost certainly use most -- if not all -- of it for portraiture.

Before buying any lighting equipment, though, I'd suggest getting this:


Dec 04, 2013 at 01:26 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · How to properly photograph handbags?

For your use why not stick to natural light. Unless it is too cold open a garage door so the top is covered but has light flowing in. Now you won't get a bright white background this way but you can get a good shot. Ad a reflector for a bit of highlight or fill. No investment other than a large white poster board. Could modify the background in post to bright white if needed.

Another low cost option is a cheap set of continuous light off Amazon. Look for the name Fancier Studio. About $125.00 for 2 light set. Cheaper than you can buy the bulbs alone. I might go for a 3 unit set for that very reason as I do a lot of video and need new bulbs. I also love these for step and repeat photos where it is usually really dark. They look good, attract attention and makes it easy to focus at night. I usually add a strobe to stop any movement but that is another topic. High watt CFL lights will be what You See Is What You Get like you have with natural light. Future use is limited due to light output compared to strobes. You can use for single person portraits.

Of course strobes will be good no matter what you want to do with them. Much bigger learning curve for some. In fact I would say many never master there use from what I see around my area. Lots more investment for something that will last plus good modifiers are not cheap.

I just did about 100 bags. Use window light plus 4 strobes. Some for background as I needed it bright white, others for detail and the window light for fill and because shooting in a dark room for that long gives me a headache. If you mix you need to watch the color.

Dec 06, 2013 at 10:31 PM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · How to properly photograph handbags?

I've done some photos of handbags for my wife and have been using 2 inexpensive off-camera speedlights into umbrellas. One light is placed either camera left or right intended to bring out texture and create shadowing and the other is usually overhead to add fill. Here is an example of the results -- nothing exceptional, but indicative of what you can do with simple off-camera lights:


One simple trick is to stuff the handbags with tissue paper to give them proper "body" and also to keep them from drooping.

Dec 07, 2013 at 11:08 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · How to properly photograph handbags?

All good responses here. You really need to determine the look desired before investing in stuff.
Window light and a simple piece of foam board and a tripod can get you stunning results with just a bit of practice.I would think that the overcast winter sky gives you tons of soft window light.

Dec 08, 2013 at 04:11 AM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · How to properly photograph handbags?

I've seen hundreds and hundreds of handbag makers selling on places like Etsy who take killer product shots using nothing but natural light.

Find some good locations (outdoors works really well with different kinds of bags, or a nice indoor location if thats your thing), find a good time of day or (create a skrim) and go nuts!

Just scour Etsy for inspiration.


Dec 15, 2013 at 08:16 PM

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