Studio shots on a budget!


I’m a huge fan of doing things DIY and on the cheap and love getting good results from something I’ve made and feeling like I’ve created something and not bought an add-on or modifier to make life easier. I’m also a huge believer and avid preacher of it’s not what you use it’s how you use it!



Manufacturers (and some photographers *shakes fist*) will make you think you need thousands of pounds worth of equipment to achieve commercial or studio shots. In reality it can easily be achieved on a budget!

I was asked to create an interesting and creative shot for a new yogurt company and decided to create the image below. I shot it on entirely entry level basic equipment;

  • Canon 550D with the 18-55mm kit lens
  • Yongnuo YN460 flashgun
  • Konig lightstand from Amazon
  • Westcott 43” umbrella (cheap one not the super expensive ones)
  • Manfrotto umbrella adaptor
  • a friends shutter release cable
  • Wireless flash trigger (super cheap from amazon)

You’re looking at between £99.33- £110 for all of that excluding the camera which I assume you have already. That is a bargain already considering a Canon flashgun will set you back between £300 - £500!! (flashgun advice coming soon!)

The Setup.

  • Flashgun placed around 5 feet away, flashgun being shot into the umbrella(not through) pointing at a nearly parallel to the floor. I left it to the side at a very slight angle otherwise you will get a completely flat look to the image which you generally never want for food photography (unless you’re going for that look of course, creative rules are there to be broken!) and it avoids getting a shadow cast on the dish from the camera as it’s overhead.
  • The camera was then placed over head on my tripod (which has a nifty feature of being able to go 90 degrees but this is not needed) so it’s looking directly over the dish. The remote cable was then plugged in to trigger the camera to make it easier when it came to dropping the fruit in.
  • The camera was set to manual as I was shooting flash and wanted to use the sync speed of 1/200th and zoomed into 55mm to avoid wide angle distortion and to get closer to the dish without getting it splashed! I used ISO 800, which in hindsight could have been decreased and more flash power used, but due to the amount of light, the files are still fairly clean.

Here’s how I shot it.

  • I got a glass pyrex dish and filled it with milk, with product photography more often than not food stylistics and photographers will use thickening agents, double cream, greek yogurt & EVEN PVA GLUE to get the shot just right! So choose what you want to use, I used milk for convenience.
  • I placed a white piece of paper underneath the dish as I knew it wasn’t deep enough and would show the bottom of the dish, a white piece of paper would help blend it a little better and make my life easier when it came to post processing.
  • I then dropped the fruit into the dish taking one single shot at a time, pressing the remote release as it hit the milk. I think being a drummer for quite a few years really helped this part! It could take a few attempts to get the hang of it!!
  • After all the shots were done, I put them into Photoshop and made a composite of all the shots, adjust the lighting and did final PP on the image.

So there it is, how to achieve a creative shot without spending a small fortune! You can use anything and everything to make a shot!

Using Format