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Picture Perfect: Product Photography Tips & Thoughts

Picture Perfect: Product Photography Tips & Thoughts

In our modern era of hypervisualized retail experiences, we find companies using the media to propel their products in new and exciting ways. However, one must not neglect the importance of good photography in conveying the value of a product. In a cultural and economic climate where online shopping can be heavily favored, if not the only option, your brand needs to stand out above your competitors. This comes down to an excellent ecommerce platform with ease of navigation, compelling content, and  photography. When shopping in a brick-and-mortar setting, customers can touch a product and assess its worth. When shopping online, customers aren’t able to touch whatever you’re selling. That’s exactly why strong product and lifestyle photography is important in swaying a potential buyer to follow through with their purchase. Here are a few tips to consider when either hiring a photographer or attempting the photography yourself:

Styles and Colors:
Firstly, you should assess the minimum number of shots you will need to communicate the product. Sometimes each product will require multiple views in order to fully convey the product options, styles and colors. For example, if you are describing a bag with multiple pockets, show the pockets! A good pitch is working both textual and photographic mediums to sell your product.

You must first decide whether natural or artificial lighting will showcase your product the best. Natural light can be the best choice for some products. It’s soft and imparts color in a way that artificial lighting doesn’t. However, if your product features details that require a close up to show the intricacies of texture, material, or craftsmanship, artificial light might be the only way to go. Get accustomed to looking at your product in different sources of light, and assess which option flatters your product the most. Here’s a clip that shows the dramatic difference in detail level you can get by playing with the light. Artificial/bounced lighting can also bring out details that would not normally be highlighted in natural light. This is especially important if the website has zoom functions to enhance the image experience – you will want to maximize that opportunity with well-lit product images.

The Backdrop – Environmental or Flat White?
Sometimes the look and feel of your brand will decide the background onto which your products will be photographed and displayed. If it is a small object like jewelry or a handheld accessory, shooting on a white background will help accentuate the object and allow the viewer to focus on the product, especially on a website or mobile device where the final image may end up being a thumbnail. However, if you’re going for the hip and modern boutique style, its fine to have more complex and styled backgrounds that convey the context in where the product is used. Thirdly, there are moments where you need both an environmental/lifestyle shot and a static product shot on a flat background to really display the full use of the product. You have to assume that you will be attracting all types of shoppers, even ones that will have no idea what your product is about. The key is being descriptive without being too visually busy.

Albert Cheung Albert Cheung (1 Posts)

Albert Cheung is a New York based photographer specializing in commercial, fashion, lifestyle, product, and documentary photojournalism. His images have appeared in notable publications such as the New York Times, Interiors Magazine, Food & Wine, Atria Books, amongst others. Albert earned a professional degree in Architecture from Cornell University and spent his early years practicing as an architect prior to his full-time investment as a photographer. With fashion, he has collaborated with Lionesque Style for NYFW, Paul Stuart, and select boutique designer labels with fashion event, product, and lifestyle and lookbook photography. Albert is also a founding partner of FRAME, a creative commercial photography studio.

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