Illuminating Your Products: How Many Lights Do You Need for Product Photography?

January 10th, 2024

Product photography is a crucial aspect of any business that sells physical goods. It's the visual representation of your product that potential customers see before making a purchase decision. Therefore, it's essential to ensure that your product photos are clear, detailed, and appealing. One of the key elements that can significantly impact the quality of your product photos is lighting.

In this blog post, we will delve into the world of product photography lighting, discussing how many lights you need and how to use them effectively.

The Importance of Lighting in Product Photography

Lighting is the backbone of photography. It can make or break your product photos. Proper lighting can highlight the features of your product, create depth, and set the mood. It can also help you control shadows, colors, and textures, thereby enhancing the overall quality of your photos.

How Many Lights Do You Need?

The number of lights you need for product photography can vary depending on several factors such as the size of the product, the desired effect, and the type of photography. However, as a general rule of thumb, most professional product photographers use a three-point lighting setup. This setup includes:

  1. Key Light: This is the main light source, usually the brightest and most influential light in the entire setup. It's typically placed to one side of the camera, illuminating the product directly.

  2. Fill Light: This light is used to fill in the shadows created by the key light. It's usually softer and less bright than the key light, and it's placed on the opposite side of the camera.

  3. Backlight: Also known as the rim or hair light, the backlight is used to separate the product from the background and add depth to the photo. It's placed behind the product, often at an angle.

Additional Lights

While a three-point lighting setup can suffice for most product photography, you might need additional lights for larger products or more complex shoots. For instance, you might need extra lights to illuminate specific details of the product or to create certain effects.

Using Natural Light

If you're just starting out in product photography or if you're on a tight budget, you can also use natural light. Shooting near a large window or outside can provide you with plenty of light. However, keep in mind that you have less control over natural light, and it can change throughout the day.


While the number of lights needed for product photography can vary, a three-point lighting setup is a good starting point. Remember, the goal is to illuminate your product in a way that highlights its features, creates depth, and makes it appealing to potential customers. So, don't be afraid to experiment with different lighting setups until you find what works best for your products.