Shadowless Backgrounds for Catalogue-Style Images

Whether you’re photographing products with matte surfaces or shiny surfaces, white products, coloured products, or black products, this class details how to create shadowless lighting for photographing products on a white background.

In this class, Karl builds on the techniques covered in our ‘Shadowless Lighting For Photographing Products On White’ live show as he demonstrates a versatile setup for shooting from a lower angle.

Photographing multiple items throughout this class, including a handbag, sneaker and women’s boots, Karl shows just how versatile the setup is and how it can easily be adjusted using simple accessories such as reflectors as well as flags.

At the end of the class Karl shows an alternative one-light, space-saving setup that could be used to create white backgrounds — an ideal solution for those photographing catalogue and e-commerce work in a small space!

Class objectives:

  • Setups for e-commerce and catalogue-style photography
  • How to create white backgrounds for product photography
  • Simple lighting setups for product photography
  • Using reflectors and flags to control light
  • Creating separation when shooting white products on white backgrounds
  • Product photography tips

For further examples of how to photograph products on a white background with shadowless light, take a look at our shadowless lighting class or packshot product photography class.

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.


  1. Hi Karl,
    At 7:47 when you shoot the series of different products you work with reflected light to create a white background. At 30:10 when you use a softbox as your background you work with direct light that is also a direct transmission of certain polarized oscillations into the recording medium which is harder to control in terms of flare because of their incidence angle. In your other tutorial “E-Commerce Clothing Photography” at 15:28 you go into great details about this matter. Would it be safe to assume that your first setup is more flare-safe and it would be a tad more lineant in this regard allowing us to bump flash-power more deliberately unlike a light source directly transmitting light into recording medium? Thanks.

  2. Hi Karl, I´m a new member and I am LOVING the classes. I´d like to know if its possible to use 5 mm methacrylate instead of glass? It´s not as heavy and safer. Thanks.

    1. Hi, Glad you like the classes! I think it will bend and it also scratches. Toughened safety glass I think will serve you better.

  3. Hi Karl. I have been using a similar setup to this for years – rectangular glass tabletop (10mm toughened) with strobes lighting background and strobes in softboxes lighting the product. What I can’t seem to fix is the back edge of the glass always shows up as a dark line in all my shots. Any suggestions? I suppose my table is too narrow front to back so the line is always in the shot but does that also have a bearing on whether it shows up as black or not? Your rear edge seems to just disappear on this video. Thanks for any help!

    1. Hi Chris, the size of the glass matters. In downward view then my glass is big enough that it’s not in the shot and in the horizontal view it’s big enough that it’s far enough away that dissolves but my guess is that the larger the area of the glass maybe the more light actually refracts to the edge or is closer to my white background.

      1. Thanks Karl. I’ve just tried switching my rectangular glass and indeed shooting along it eliminates the troublesome edge! Hallelujah! I’m off to price up a larger piece of glass.

        Thanks so much for resolving an issue that’s plagued me for at least 4 years!

  4. Hello from the French countryside Karl,
    What thickness and what sort of glass do you suggest? (heat-tempered glass, extra clear glass).
    Thank you for the quality of your courses! Those lessons have helped me a lot in my activity as a photographer.
    Have a nice day

  5. Hi Karl,
    I shoot men’s fashion for a high end fashion store and one of the issues I’m constantly running into is that when we a certain position the coat, shirt or sweater always has wrinkles and this has a dark shadow there. My setup is a 5′ Octabox on the right at about 45 deg to the model with another light bouncing off a large (4’x8′) white foamboard. I’m shooting against a white backdrop where model is about 4 ft from backdrop. I would like to either lighten the shadow to a minimum if possible. The client does not have a budget for a stylist so my assistant or the AD fills that role and they do their best to lighten the wrinkle i.e. to soften the wrinkle. Still we have this and it’s getting on my nerve. Is there anyway to fix this? Oh the light reading is f/8.02 on both sides and the middle.


  6. This was so very helpful. I have a huge catalog bid coming up with 7000+ items. We need to cut costs wherever we can, and this eliminates the need for hiring someone to clip the images. Thank you!!!

      1. Thanks Karl,

        When using this technique to photograph something like a spark plug, or a clear light bulb, should I cut a silver card to match the shape (like you do with gold in your drink tutorials), so the glass of the bulb doesn’t overexpose? Or do you have other suggestions?

        1. Hi Joshua, yes it may need to be a black card though to darken the edges. If you see our white on white recent live show you’ll see that in practise further.

  7. Hello Karl

    Lately I have seen a change in packshoot product photography, seems like big brands are going away from pure white and showing their products in clear gray background , in my opinion products look much better in this way…I am about to opent my own packshoot/ecommerce photography studio and in my portfolio I thing I am going to include most of my pictures in a subtle gray background…what do you think about it?

    1. Hi Victor, yes it’s becoming more common for a 10% grey background which for your information means the white wall would need to read R236, G236, B236 in the colour channels.

  8. Hi Karl,
    I noticed the glass you used did not have a “finish” along the sides. the edges are still sharp. Is that for a reason or could I also use a piece of glass with polished edges? Or would this leave a visible horizon.
    And does the thickness of the glass have any influence?
    Thanks for your reply.

    1. Hi Polished edges would be just fine you wouldn’t notice them. If the glass is very thick it takes on a slight green tinge but up to 1cm is usually OK for this.

  9. Hello Carl, Great job!

    One question please,
    may I use this specific effortless (for post production) set up keeping the reflection?
    If I decrease the power of background lights I will lose the pure white. The only solution is the double exposure? I could use my Hensel freemask system but If the result is the same, with one exposure is preferable.
    My client needs 3 shots of the shoe at the same camera position and 1 shot from the camera position 45 degrees from above, so this technique looks very convinient.

    Thank you for your time,

    1. Hi Gregory did you look at our ‘packshot section’ where we keep the reflection by using white gloss acrylic?

  10. Hello Carl.

    If you have more questions while practicing, please leave a comment.

    My previous comment… I haven’t received a reply yet.

    If you reply, it will be a great help to me.

    In the case of pack shots, shadows are synthesized after complete shooting, but can’t we shoot with shadows in the first place?

    It’s like a pack shot on the ssense site.

  11. Hello Karl,
    The video is very good!

    The softbox size of the video is 90×120, is there any difference if I use a 120×180 softbox?

      1. Karl, one last question… haha,,

        Would the color of the box supporting the glass plate have any effect on the picture?

  12. That was a particularly useful and succinct class, Karl. Many thanks.

    If the subject was particularly reflective, would switching to a scrim be better for the key light?

    Also, if a client commissioned, say, a collection of boots/shoes in various finishes, would you supply them with a few different versions of each? I’m thinking of the different feels you were achieving with the glossy black/white boot. I’m guessing the nuances that could be achieved would not be realised until the shooting started – well, ‘guessing’ at my level, not yours, of course!

    1. Hi Barry, thank you. Yes absolutely the product lighting can take any form whatsoever that is best suited to the product, that wouldn’t affect the technique applied for the shadowless background. I wouldn’t expect though to supply a client with multiple lighting versions for this type of photography though, it would be a case of going with what is overall best for a batch of similar products and then changing it if the next batch of products were different, more reflective etc.

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