11. Packshots – White background product photography

Looks simple and if done correctly, packshots can be a reliable source of extra income if you know how to set them up and shoot them to perfection in minutes not hours.

In this chapter Karl will show you just how to get consistent, crisp shots with clean white background product photographs that can be replicated again and again with very little preparation and gear.

Product Packshots - Bottles on clean white background

Packshots – White background product photography


  1. Hi Karl,
    The White on white is the nightmare for a lot of photographers and to see you doing it show us how simple this can be done in a very efficient way. About the reflection part, what do you think if you use transparent plexiglass the light should go through it and no more reflection, in this case, the post-production is minimized, right?
    The last thing, I am a fan and you made me a better photographer by following your videos.
    Karl, Big Up and thank you so much for all your advice.

    1. Hi, if the plexiglass has any gloss to it then there will be a reflection on unless you use Matt Plexiglass. Cheers Karl.

  2. Hi Karl. Thanks for a great tutorial and tips. My question is, as I don’t have powerful mono lights to brighten up a background, do you think using a 2x speed lights instead would work similar way.
    Is it anyway good idea to use speed lights at a product photography? Regards

    1. Hi Dan, if you set the speedlites to a wide angle spread they should work. For product photography they can work but you are limited with certain light shaping modifiers.

    1. Hi Louise, great this will also be the subject of our next live show. See the live shows section for details.

  3. Hi Karl, just signed up on your website and this is the first tutorial I’ve watched. Really well done! Love the way you explain. Quick question: I live in the States and for some reason I struggle to find to buy an acrylic board that you used on the table, I believe you call it White Perspex. I’ve only seen a couple, but they are really small, nowhere close to the size you used on the table. Can you please help? 🙂 Thanks!

    1. Hi Marius, I believe the US brand name is Makralon? You should find it at most Sign Manufacturers (for building signs) and also large plastic suppliers. Cheers Karl.

  4. Hey karl,

    what would you recommend for deep etching images for mostly chemist products, white back ground for darker objects and black for white? or would the black cause problems with the cutting out?

    1. Hi Mark, I’m afraid I don’t quite understand the question. I shoot product imagery for some of the worlds top brands and I don’t know what you mean by deep etching. It’s interesting because this has happened before where some strange phrase or term does the rounds and yet doesn’t come into my or other pros worlds? Can you explain what you mean and I’ll do my best to answer.

      OK I’ve just looked it up, you mean ‘cutouts’! Who the hell comes up with this crap terminology that makes its way into photography? White is always safest and easiest. If you are shooting white on white as in this example you have to be careful not to loose your white object into the background so use the techniques shown. Cheers Karl.

  5. Karl can you recommend a cheaper version of the Elinchrom Indirect Litemotiv Square 145x145cm? I know you said you can use a scrim. But I am looking to keep the light nice and even for my pack shots. Is a square lightbox recommended? I have Elinchrom heads in my studio.

      1. Hi Karl. Thanks for your reply. I know your a busy man and thankful for your time. I made a square scrim with the Lee 216 at 1.22 x 1.22 (Size of paper). I placed the Elinchrom 66 x 66 at a distance to cover the scrim. Despite the light fall off, I have to say it really created a nice soft gradual light on the products. I wish there was a way to show you the end result. I used a mirror on the opposite side of the product and it made a more hard edge so I will need to try a few different ideas. But overall my production time has increased a lot since using your technique. I sent some sample shots as well to previous clients and they are really loving the new look.

    1. I have 2x Elinchrom 66x66cm soft boxes. If I put them behind the scrim would that work for even lighting?

      1. One more question. Sorry Karl. I been looking for a sheet of White Perspex. What size sheet did you use and where can I buy one? I have looked online and there is alot of choice and options. Is it 3mm, 5mm or 7mm? Thanks Karl.

        1. Hi Nicholas, Best place to get it is from plastic suppliers or sign making companies. 5mm is always a good one and get the biggest sheet you can afford or store but usually 1m x 1m would be the minimum i’d work with.

  6. Hi Karl,

    If I needed to shoot pack shots with a clean black background, would the technique be similar to your whiskey product shoot (minus the background gradient)?

    1. Hi Baryalay, if you mean the foamboard then your local signmaking company will have it. If you mean the big ‘poly’ boards then you can try builders merchants.

  7. Hi, Karl as you said at the beginning of the pack shots video there is no hight budget in it, my question is as a photographer if I have been asked to do it let’s say 40 shots a day for 3 weeks how can I calculate what to charge the client?

  8. Hi Karl Taylor thanks for this tutorial, I wanted to ask, will it be fair to say that you overexposed the white background? for this shoot to get the perfect white? what about the products themselves did you color balanced them? thanks

    1. Hi Cheick, no I think the tutorial demonstrated that we took the white exposure from slightly below pure white and then gradually increased it to just pure white. So it certainly wasn’t overexposed or this could have an adverse effect on the products and contrast of the image. Each shot is checked for neutrality using the color measuring tools in the software and also by placing a grey card in the shot at the start for reference. We will soon be releasing a tutorial on the process of using color test cards. All the best Karl.

  9. how can i get the front of the product white without a shadow and the same time not over expose the product face?

    1. Hi Abraham, I don’t fully understand your question? First of all is your product completely pure white? Secondly is the product flat or curved and are you saying you don’t want any shadow anywhere on your product? This doesn’t make sense to me as without any shadow there will be no three dimensionality or form. Can you provide a link to an example photo of what you mean?

      1. thank you for your reply. in the example above you have a reflective shadow under the product. I would like for the product to have a pure white background all around including the bottom. I get better results when adding a light in front or above of the product but then the face of the product becomes over exposed.

        1. Hi Abraham, no not easily. If you replace the reflective white acrylic with matt acrylic then you don’t get the reflection but it may still not be white enough without additional top lighting. However this tutorial shows you how to overcome the problem in post https://www.karltayloreducation.com/course_video_page/clean-white-background-pack-shots-retouching/ you can also try lighting through your acrylic from underneath but you need to be careful of light hitting the product. Alternatively you suspend your product in the air on a thin rod and shoot it against a white background only and retouch the rod later.

  10. Hi! Thank you for this tutorial. Have you done any apparel on white? The reason that I’m asking is that there’s a fair amount of e-commerce work in my area these days and it would be great to study that just to be able to pull it off if needed. Any tips on shooting fabrics and clothing?

    1. Hi Olli, I prefer a higher contrast light like a Para or a silver brolly for fabrics as you generally want to reveal more texture, but be sure to control your fill light. I’d suggest watching all of our course ‘Light Source’ in the portrait section first as this will cover a lot of that.

  11. Hi Karl, could you help me out on getting perfect white backgrounds and how to avoid reflections when shooting metal watches

    1. Hi Waqaar, this video will help you understand how to achieve perfect white backgrounds and we have 2 other tutorials on watch photography in the ‘product’ section. You may also use our forum to post images describing your problem to get advice.

  12. Hi Karl

    Excellent tutorial, thank you.
    I wonder if you could assist me with the following.

    I do a lot of white background catalogue photography for a shoe brand, and am struggling to find a time effective way to place the shoes to get a consistent result. My client has a large range of shoes and slippers etc, and everytime I do their seasonal ranges it is not time effective. They are picky and dont want any shadows or reflections underneath the shoes. Pen tool takes to long per image. I have devised a set that works well for the elevation to create the images without shadows and reflection. My problem is placing the shoes in the same position and angle in the shortest amount of time to get the 200 images out quicker.

    Hope you can advise

    Many Thanks

    1. Hi Jaco, check out some of the product photography courses for some tips. But from what you have told me it sounds like I would have my metal worker create and elevated shoe stand that has thin metal plates to stick the shoes soles to and are already correctly angled so that you can repeat over and over quickly. You may then have two or three of these shoe supports for different angles etc, but the main this repeatability. Having the elevation on a thin metal stand will also minimise retouching and allow a clean white all around the shoes and lighting from any angle. Whenever I’m faced with a problem like this I simply design a solution and get my metal worker to build something, whilst this may cost some money in the long run it is worth it.

        1. Hi Heinz, yes you can but you need to keep it far away from your products otherwise it will ‘light’ them from the back and in having to keep the plexiglas far enough away you inevitably need a much larger piece which can be expensive and more problematic to clamp in place. A white wall or roller of paper is large enough to keep some distance away.

    1. Hi Quang! I am in Saudi Arabia now, the video quality is exceptionally good. I have no issues. Please check the internet speed.

    2. Hi Quang, we don’t understand, our video are in 1080 HD, if you have a good internet connection then they should play fine. We and our members watch and test them every day from our service provider so we would see if there were any issues. What sort of problems are you having and which country are you watching from?

  13. Very nice. I had a question how about if we need a higher camera angle say for jewelery or for shoes, how do we proceed

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