March 13, 2020

Product Photography Tip: How to Avoid Color Casts

Color is one of the most important traits of branding products. Because of this, it’s absolutely crucial to product photography. One of the biggest mistakes I see new photographers make is having inaccurate or muddy colors. This is especially true when photographing a product on a colored background. Here’s my simple tip on how to avoid color casts in product photography when shooting on a colored background.

The basic concept behind this is that every surface in a photoshoot reflects light and color. That’s why all white natural light studios are so popular and work so well – they bounce light around everywhere, and because the walls are white, the light is neutral and shows colors in the subject more accurately. When you are shooting on a colored background, the color of the background is often reflected back onto the product, which distorts the colors. Here’s an example of an unedited image on a colored background, vs. an edited one with accurate colors:

In the image on the left, you can see how muddy and pink all the colors are. The pineapple and starfruit have a very strong yellow cast, and the labels of the product – which should be white – definitely have a strong pink cast on them.

Here’s one way you can work around this. All you’ll need (besides your camera, of course) is a tripod and a white piece of paper.

1) Set up your shot. Arrange the product, props, lighting, and camera settings how you want them.

2) Take an image of your set up. This is will be your base image. This is mine – you can see how it looks again here:

3) After you nail that shot, the next step is to place a white piece of paper in front of the scene. Doing this changes the color of the reflections. The light bouncing off the background onto the product will be white, instead of pink, and will show more accurate colors. Here’s the image I took in this scenario:

As you can see, this made a huge difference – especially on the label and box.

4) Your last step is to composite the images together in Photoshop. I usually select the label, copy it, paste it onto my base image, and place it exactly where it should be. This is why the tripod is handy – it makes this an extremely easy and fast process.

After the image is composited, I go in and make my remaining edits. In this image, I cleaned up the background, made the pineapple more yellow and the starfruit more green, and increased the vibrancy and contrast of the scene overall.

This is the final image:

This technique also works well on transparent products. For example, in this image I had a transparent bottle on a colorful background:

To make sure the color of the product stayed accurate, I taped a white piece of paper behind the bottle. This ensured the beautiful green color of the product stayed vibrant on the pink background.

I hope you found this helpful! Do you have any questions about this technique? Just comment below or send me a message here – I’d love to help with any questions you have!