Top 10 accessories for studio photography

Whether you’re a professional product photographer or still practicing your portrait photography, there are a few photography accessories that are useful to have around the studio.

These are my top 10 studio photography accessories that I keep around the studio (plus a bonus one at the end), and many of them are more basic than you might expect!

    1. Clamps

    I have a variety of clamps in all different shapes and sizes that I use for everything from holding backgrounds up to securing lights. While some of the clamps I have are professional grips for studio photography, others are basic plastic clamps that you can pick up at most DIY stores or even online (the most basic of these are clothes pegs, which you could probably take from home without anyone noticing).

    See also: Grips and clamps

      2. Lighting gels

      I have a great selection of gels in the studio in a variety of colours and sizes. From product to fashion photography, gels are a handy accessory that you can use for creating coloured effects and controlling the light. In addition to coloured gels, I also have ND and polarising gels, which I use for product photography. You can see how I used an ND and polarising gel in our headphones product shoot live show.

        Studio photography lighting gels
        Example portrait image using photo gels
        Gels are a useful studio accessory that can be used in creative ways.

        3. Acrylic rods

        Clear acrylic rods are incredibly useful to have around the studio, particularly for product photography. I use them for suspending items in mid air or elevating them off the ground. Because they’re clear, it also makes it much easier when it comes to the post production stages. You can get these from your local sign makers, who should also be able to cut them to the width and length you need.

          Using acrylic rods for product photography
          Chanel product image example
          Acrylic rods are useful for suspending items and easy to retouch, as was the case for this shot.

          4. Hot glue gun

          This is essential for glueing products to the acrylic rods. The glue holds items really well but is easy enough to break off and doesn’t ruin the product.
            Hot glue gun for studio photography
            Hot glue gun for studio photography
            Hot glue guns are a useful accessory for studio photography.

            5. Compressed air cans

            Any product photographer will be able to tell you that you’ll always regret not cleaning your products before shooting them. For this, I find compressed air cans particularly useful as they do a great job of getting rid of any dust.
              Air can photo studio accessory
              Compressed air cans are a useful accessory for studio photographers, especially for cleaning products.

              6. Mirrors and card

              Whether I’m photographing watches or glasses, I’ll often use mirrors or card to control the light. Acrylic mirrors are particularly useful for reflecting light back into products. Because they’re so lightweight, it makes attaching them to stands fairly easy, which is ideal when I’m doing focus stacking. I also have a selection of reflective and coloured card. From reflective gold card to matte black card, having different colours will allow you to get some very creative results simply and easily.

                Using reflective card for studio photography

                I have a variety of coloured card in the studio that is useful for different types of product photography.

                7. Studio Photography C-stands

                Many of the accessories up until now have been fairly inexpensive and while
                c-stands unfortunately don’t classify as ‘budget’ accessories, they’re well worth the money! C-stands are much stronger than normal lighting stands and are adjustable too. Grip arms and mini boom arm attachments also mean they can be used to get lights into difficult positions.

                See also: Lighting stands and supports

                  Studio accessories c-stands
                  Grip arms and mini boom arm attachments mean c-stands can also be used for holding lights.
                  Studio accessories c-stands
                  C-stands also have adjustable legs, which can be useful both in the studio and on location.

                  8. Diffusion material

                  This is one of the accessories I use most in the studio — it’s what I use to achieve that beautiful gradient light on products. The diffusion material I use comes in rolls, which I then use to also create scrims for when I’m shooting products that need gradient lighting from above. Although this is an accessory I most commonly use for product photography, it can also be very useful for diffusing natural light when shooting portraits too (as you can see in this portrait photography class).

                    Studio accessories c-stands
                    Diffusion material helps create gradient lighting, which is often necessary when photographing products with reflective surfaces.
                    Studio accessories c-stands
                    This product image needed diffusion material to create the gradient lighting on the top, side and metal parts of the headphones.

                    9. Electrical tape

                    Small but mighty, electrical tape has a number of uses in the studio. I use it for holding products in place or marking their positions and even marking where I want my subjects to stand when I’m doing portrait or fashion shoots. Other useful tape to have around is duct tape and gaffer tape.

                      Studio accessories c-stands
                      Studio accessories c-stands

                      Electrical tape may be a small item, but don't underestimate its value.

                      10. Foam board

                      Lightweight and versatile, foam board is ideal for creating positive and negative fill. I’ve used foamboard for everything from food photography to business portraits and always have a few sheets around the studio.

                        Foamboard studio accessory
                        Foamboard is a useful studio accessory when it comes to controlling your light, for creating positive or negative fill.

                        Bonus Accessory

                        An assistant

                        Having a photography assistant to help on shoots can be a great asset, especially for product photography. From moving lights to re-positioning products, having an extra pair of hands can really help speed up the process.

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                            1. Hi, no choice as both are needed for different solutions. Gaffer tape is more for securing and fixing stuff, electrical tape is more for refined lines, shading, marking etc.

                          1. Hello
                            Where do you suggest I can find coloured cards and acrylic mirrors from? Can the coloured card just be A1 coloured card from a hobby shop?
                            Thanks for any help

                            1. Hi, the cards can be from hobby/art shops. Acrylic mirrors and coloured acrylic can be found at your Sign Service company.

                              1. Hi Karl
                                Just one more quick question – the acrylic glass here is supplied in one 8×4 foot size and they will cut down for me but I have to purchase the entire sheet. What size is ideal would you think?
                                Thanks for any help

                                1. Hi Angela, by common sheets sizes are 4ft x 4ft so that’s half your sheet and then maybe get the other half cut into smaller pieces but it really depends on what you’re shooting on it or if you’re just using it as diffusion material. I’ve got so many bits in different sizes!

                          2. Hi

                            What exactly is/are the diffusion materials you use in rolls? Is it Colorama Translum? Which one do you suggest, light, medium or heavy?

                            Many Thanks

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