One of the types of commercial photography which sounds, well, boring, but is actually extremely technical and artistic is product photography. Not a lot of people outside of marketing or photography put a lot of thought into it, but taking photos of products that not only accurately represent what you are getting, but also entice the end viewer is the pinnacle of this type of photography. Whether it be an industrial chiller, an art kit or, in the below photos, pre-wrapped gift boxes, showing the end consumer WHAT they get can sometimes be a challenge.
Below are a few tips for both clients and photographers when it comes to capturing some amazing product photos.
1 – First and foremost, know EXACTLY what you are shooting. I cannot capitalize that enough. There is a huge difference in photographing a gift box versus a gift box wrapped in cellophane.
2 – Know the shape & composition of ALL products. Reflectivity can be difficult to tame at best but when you get a reflective & round object (think of a polished mirror-like silver finish on a round Christmas-tree ornament), you need to get creative as you won’t be able to hide the reflection.
3 – Know EXACTLY what your end client needs. Many product photographers bill by “view”. What this means is you’ll pay per photo you receive so if you have multiple products, you’ll want to define exactly what you want from each angle and not waste time & budget on a view which isn’t specifically tailored to the end goal.
4 – White is not white… a common misconception among both newer product photographers and clients is that by merely placing a product on white paper, the background will be white in the end photo. While there are instances you can photograph a product on white paper and have the end result, without editing, be it’s on white paper, there are many, MANY colors of white. For web use and to achieve that “floating” effect, the background must be PURE white (255/255/255 on RGB scale) and doing so without some serious editing is difficult at best and, with many product surfaces, near impossible. There are many companies who specialize in “clipping” or adding transparent backgrounds onto your photos. Shooting on white is still important (it helps with shadows, reflections, etc) but don’t be surprised if your white background looks grey.
5 – Lighting is key. Product photographers have a litany of tricks to achieve certain looks and styles to each product. Remember, we aren’t just trying to get an in-focus shot of your product, we want to make it come alive and, as best as possible, let the end viewer experience what its like. Creating dimension, texture, mood and feeling is all done thru proper & creative lighting techniques.
6 – Scale. I can’t remember the television show, but there was an episode where someone was so excited to find an amazing deal on something. Let’s call it a rubber raft. The buyer was having visions of taking their entire family down the river in this amazing vessel, camping on the weekends, etc. When the raft finally arrived, he couldn’t wait to open it. When he did, he realized the scale was all wrong as the raft would barely fit a small child in it. This is where scale come in.. While an obvious way to show scale is a tape measure, there are other, more creative ways. Keep in mind that using props to help determine the scale is creative and a great way to showcase your items, the prop MUST have an understood scale to it. So using a pencil of a desk lamp, putting a chick breast on a dinner plate, etc. are great ways to help showcase the scale without being as direct as a tape measure.
So here’s a few images from recent product shoots i’ve done in my studio. If you are looking for a product photographer in North Carolina, or can ship me your product, i’d love to chat with you about your needs and get you a quote.