Shadows, Reflection, and Floating: A Primer in Tabletop Photography

Single products shot tabletop don’t have to be boring. There are lots of elements to consider when shooting single products table top. Lighting and the shooting surfaces are two elements we adjust at Styleexpo Photography to create dynamic single product images.  

When clients reach out to us to shoot their product, they usually just know they want clean images with a white background. That is when I start with the questions.  I ask the client if they want their images to have shadows, reflections or if they want the images to be floating. That is when there a long pause and the client ask me what I think looks better.



There are degrees of shadows. The wider the profile of the product, it will be able to cast a greater natural shadow. This works well for beauty products such as tubes, boxes, and canisters.

However, even with jewelry product shots you should consider using shadows to create dynamic images to use for editorials or landing page.




A reflection of the product onto the shooting surface helps ground the product. This is an option that works very well when shooting beauty products. As for jewelry, reflections are used more often when you want a “hero shot” vs your basic product shots.


Having an image float in the white space surrounding the product is my least favorite option and do not often suggest it to our clients. Even if they do not want a strong shadow or reflection as the examples above, a very slight natural shadow from the product create a better effect for the finished product.


If you aren’t sure which you will prefer, you can wait to see the final image and have the retoucher add in a shadow or a reflection in post production. Or as I suggest to our clients, we can shoot with a shadow and if you don’t like it, we can edit it out. It is much easier to edit out a real shadow or add in a fake reflection in post production.