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  • Writer's picturePaolo Ferla


Updated: Jul 26, 2023

Today we're shedding some light on a subject that can cause a lot of confusion in the product photography world.. setups! ⁠

Setups can get a lot of people's head in a spin, but understanding how they work is well worth it, as it can provide a structure to work from and makes planning a product shoot MUCH easier. It saves time, makes brief-writing a breeze, and communication a cinch, and who doesn't want that? ⁠

Scroll through to see our Simple Guide to Setups and some examples of how you can use setups for your next photo shoot.

Whether you're looking for e-commerce photography, brand photography, food and drink photography, social media photography or something else, this guide is for you!

A hand pours cider into another persons glass

What is a setup?

If you're not familiar with product photography, this may be the first time you've heard of a setup. Don't panic, it's more simple than you think! A setup is one scene consisting of the following: 1. A background (wallpaper) and/or surface (floor) 2. Lighting 3. Props

What counts as a new setup?

If one or all of the above components (background, surface, lighting, props) change considerably, then it counts as a new setup.

If the only thing that changes is the product being photographed. we don't count this as a new setup as it's quite easy to switch the product in the shot.

Examples of Different Setups

Let's take a closer look at some examples of different setups below.

hands tap cider bottles together

Spot the difference?

What differences did you spot in the setups above? If you said 'colour', 'backdrop' or 'product' you're absolutely right! Although these are simple examples, these would be counted as 4 setups because the backdrop has changed each time.

How many setups can I expect from a full day's shoot?

The number of setups we can fit into a day of photography depends on the complexity of the scene or setup you wish to create, so it's difficult to give an exact number.

Simple block colour scenes, like the images above, are quite easy to set up, while more detailed lifestyle setups that involve food, drink or lots of props (such as the photo below) will take longer to put together.

Generally, we can achieve between 4-8 setups in a day, but we can give you a more accurate idea once we've seen your brief.

A beautiful cocktail with mixer and flavours

Using setups to help you write a brief for a shoot

Writing a brief for a shoot can be tricky, especially if you've never done it before, but if you structure your brief by setup it can help you to organise your thoughts. It also makes your brief clear and easy to follow, making misunderstandings less likely. Plus, it allows the photographer to spend more time photographing your product (which means more content for you.. win win!).

Let's look at an example brief..

Below you can see that the brief starts with a description of the setup at the stop, followed by a shot list which lists the type of shots the client wants.

If the setup changes, create a new heading and describe the new setup and shot list in the same way. Top tip: Try to include plenty of reference images for each setup so the photographer can get a visual example of the style you're looking for! Head to our Instagram or Pinterest to get inspired.

We hope that this simple guide to setups has been helpful, but if you have any questions or there's something we didn't cover, don't hesitate to ask or drop us a comment!👇

About us

We are Future Proof Photography Ltd, a creative studio on a mission to bring your brand to life and share its story with the world, one scroll-stopping piece of content at a time. We specialise in product photography, videography and stop motion animations for food, drink and lifestyle brands of all sizes.

Get in touch

Ready to set a date for your shoot, or want to chat to us about an idea? Get in touch with our friendly team via our 'Contact' page, click here, or shoot us an email:

To see more examples of our product photography, please check out the product photography gallery, ecommerce photography gallery and food and drink gallery.

Read more on this topic on our setups page.

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