This is the seventh part of The complete guide to 360° product photography.
- 360° Product Photography: Outsourcing vs In-House
- How to Brief a Photographer
- How to Set Up a 360° Product Photography Studio – Choosing Equipment
- How to Choose a Turntable for 360° Product Photography
- The Best Camera for 360° Product Photography
- The Perfect 360° Photography Lighting Setup
- Suspending Products for 360° Photography
- 360° Product Photography: Camera Settings
- Shooting Reflective Objects for 360° Spins
- How to Edit Your 360° Product Photos
- Publish and Share 360° Spins
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There is a wide variety of items that you simply cannot put on a turntable, shoot and call it a day. Unstable and odd-shaped objects need a special approach in 360 product photography. There are several ways of shooting such items at 360° degrees, and suspension is the most popular among them.
Here are some types of products that require suspension:
- Products that won’t stand on their own. Think flat or long slim objects, or items that were not meant to be standing. For instance, a coin:
- Items that have an element that cannot hold form. For example, bag straps:
- Objects that would benefit from showing the side that is not typically visible. Here’s an example of a shoe suspended by one end to show its sole:
Yes, you can shoot 360-degree product photography of flat products without suspension. But if you do, they will look like this:
A 360 spin does not do it justice. If this brooch was suspended, the viewers could have seen the clip on the back in addition to the beautiful jewelry work. And that’s the essential part of 360° product photography: deliver the information about the product as a whole, its ins and outs.
How to suspend a product?
To suspend a product, you’ll need a fishing line or a wire, depending on the object’s size and weight. The number of suspension points matters, as well. The heavier your product is, the stronger (and thus thicker) fishing line you’ll need. Naturally, thicker fishing lines and wires are harder to hide, so you’ll need to remove them in post-production.
The strength of a fishing line is called test and is measured in pounds. It exists in ratings from 2 to 400 pounds. 4 lbs test will be suitable for most small to medium-sized products. 8 or 16 lbs tests are also good to have, although they might not blend in naturally with the background due to their thickness.
Don’t hesitate to use stronger lines. If something goes wrong or you need to readjust the product, you don’t want to risk it falling and getting damaged.
Pay attention to the color of the fishing line, as well. A clear line will be useful for white backgrounds; brown – for black.
Next, fix the fishing line or wire to the product. You can achieve this by using glue (or any other adhesive substance) or by drilling tiny holes in the product.
Using glue is a sparing method of suspending a product. As an alternative to glue (which can be rather troublesome to get off after the shoot) consider blue tack that has an additional advantage of being reusable. Some photographers also like using dental adhesive.
Drilling also works, but only in case you can afford to damage the product, or if it makes sense (you should not drill holes in fragile materials). Remember that you will still need to hide all of the props (screws, hooks, etc.) in post-production.
When suspending a product, make sure it holds form the way you need it to. For example, in this jacket spin, you can see the lines attached to the crucial points of the object to imitate a human torso:
Next, you’ll need some kind of hanging equipment to attach your fishing lines to. Having a professional hanging kit is an advantage, of course, but not a necessity.
If you don’t have a hanging kit and there’s no sense in investing in one, you can use a general-purpose C-stand to fix the fishing line to.
There are two types of setups with suspension. In one case, the product will be suspended from some sort of a frame (like a C-stand) located above the turntable. The frame will be fixed – it doesn’t need to rotate as this job will still be done by the turntable located under the product.
For rotation, the product should have enough friction with the turntable while the rest of it is suspended. The setup is great if you only need a part of the product to be lifted – e.g., as in that example with the shoe above.
If you can, avoid controlling the rotation of the suspended product manually. The resulting spin might be too wobbly and will not look good.
In the second case, your product is completely suspended. The turntable should be located above the product and rotate, thus spinning the product. Here’s an example of suspension setup with a hanging kit:
This setup is useful when you need to suspend your product completely, or if the product cannot be fixed on the turntable with enough friction to keep it spinning.
When suspending a product for shooting, you want to have everything at hand. Here’s a list of items you might need for different projects:
- Fishing line: stock up different strengths and colors.
- Glue, blue tack or any other adhesive substance to fix the fishing line to the product. Consider hot glue gun, which will simplify the process of attaching the line.
- Canned air is useful to cool off hot glue quickly.
- C-stand or a frame of sorts to tie the other end of the fishing line to.
- Markers to mask parts of the fishing line.
- Drill with small inconspicuous screws, pins and hooks.
- Substances that will help to remove glue from the product after the shooting.
Now that you know how to suspend products, we can move to the fun part of shooting the products.