Been doing a bit of product photography on the side whenever I get some free time from being a full time hobbyist photographer.
Anyhoo, its relatively simple to do with some basic equiptment.
My current set up is
2 light stands - saw some on ebay for around $29Aus
2 umbrellas - these are quite cheap in ebay as well
2 flash guns , I'm using a Nikon Sb600 and a 900, but any flash gun will do.
1 camera and a 50mm lens
You need a way to trigger the flashes, so flash triggers - again el-cheapo on ebay, not as stable as a pocket wizard but its not like critical that it fires each time. I'm using a Nikon system so I can do without by using CLS which is triggered from on-board flash - iffen your flash has a slave mode you could use that as well.
You could actually do the same thing with just one flash, umbrella, and a reflector, white foamcore would do just nicely.
Umbrella on the right is actually pretty big for this, the 80 cm one on the left is just the right size.
The next image below is totally unecessary, just wanted to try out this app I found for lighting setups called Sylight
I don't use a tripod so I have the shutter speed at around 60 or 80 on a 50mm lens
Apperture settings depend on the kind of look you want, blurred background then larger apperture, everyrhing in focus then smaller apperture, etc, etc. You do need to adjust the power of your flash accordingly, ie larger apperture is going to let more light in so you will need to turn down the flash.
I tend to set the flashes at at a 1:2 ratio
Ie. If one flash is at 1/32, the other would be at 1/64, this is not a fixed rule and you need to adjust according to taste. I've found that at the same settings the photos just look flat.
Generally speaking there are two types of product shots. The first one using a flat neutral background with only the product in the picture and the other a lifestyle type of shot where the product is shot in its natural environment, ex. A wine glass would be shot on a dining table, with a bottle of wine , plates etc in the background as props.
I'm finding that what seems to attract more hits on the internet is somewhere between the two types - Simple background with just a few props...
The styling is probably the hardest part of this whole exercise, deciding what to use as props, how much to use, where to position. The aim is that anything you add to the picture should highlight the product in some way.
Note: tried looking for product stylling courses but couldnt find any, endedup attending a food photography workshop at FoodPixels instead, got a lot of ideas from there.
What else... you need to be aware of the ambient light as well, if you have a look at the setup photo above the only other light open is a weak lamp on the left (need some light to focus with). The flash is powerful enough to overpower this one. If the main lights were on these shots would have had an ugly yellowish tint on them ... not that easy to fix on photoshop.
The same lighting setup can also be used to shoot portraits of unwary kids and dogs just going to the kitchen for a snack!