I have photographed many musical instruments. Most of them have high-gloss finishes and an otherwise great picture can be ruined by a guitar covered with fingerprints and smudges all over it.
I used to publish a music magazine, so, I’ve taken a ton of instrument photographs. I used my own studio for most of the shots we published. There were shots for instrument reviews that included full-length images, close-ups of wood grains, and detailed shots of tuning keys, bridges, pickups and onboard electronics.
I love lifestyle shots (an average musician playing their guitar, ukulele, or some other instrument). There are also shots of performing artists all through guitar magazines. Record labels use photographs in album art, but, it’s hard to attract their attention. The same holds true with instrument makers, especially the big boys.
If you have studio lights they can add a lot to your instrument photos. Keep in mind that floods will make shooting glossy guitars much easier because you can watch out for glare that would destroy an image.
Place your studio lights to the sides of your instruments. Flat lighting is not as dramatic, but, it will allow you to show off the instrument’s features and color much better. If you want drama, shadows will give you that, but, manufacturers don’t want that in product shots. Record labels love dramatic shots in album art, so, keep that in mind.
The bottom shot is one of my own promotional images. That’s a Martin D-15 solid mahogany construction acoustic guitar. I set my camera on a timer and used two 500 watt lamps and put a blue filter on my camera lens to compensate for the tungsten lamps. These days, I used daylight balanced fluorescent lamps and LED lamps and soft boxes.