Product photography is a type of commercial photography that aims to document products for the purpose of promoting, marketing, and highlighting them. You consume product photography every day, on eCommerce sites, social media, and traditional marketing assets.
Good product photography is powerful, evocative, and creative. It’s a very exciting genre, but it can also be challenging to navigate your client’s vision.
As a product photographer, no two shoots will ever be quite the same. Sure, the best product photographers develop a personal style that clients are drawn to and that they can reproduce, but the challenge of product photography is to tailor each shoot to the specifics of the product being captured.
With eCommerce growing more and more each year, high-quality, memorable product photos are only becoming increasingly valuable to brands. They can help a product stand out and have a serious impact on a company’s bottom line. This is good news for aspiring product photographers: your work is valuable, and you can make a strong case for why brands should invest in your services.
If you haven’t done product photography professionally yet, another perk is that you can build a portfolio from home by shooting objects you already have around you. These creative product photography examples will give you tons of inspiration so you can start creating a scroll-stopping portfolio of your own.
10 Product Photography Ideas
There is tons of room for creativity within product photography, and since you’re not shooting actual people, you can spend as much time as you want re-working your scene and trying new things. While some product photos feature heavily styled scenes, you don’t need to be a stylist to create memorable shots. Just remember the basic rules of composition, spend some time thinking about what you want to communicate with your image, and get shooting.
1. Create a Pattern
A simple way to create a punchy, memorable product photo is to repeat the product several times throughout the image, creating a pattern. Not only is this approach to product photography simple to set up, but it’s also pleasing to the eye, creating a nice rhythm. There’s a reason this kind of image does so well on social media: small screens don’t favor busy product photos, and this image manages to be both bold and uncluttered.
Props can make your product photos stand out by adding interesting elements, colors and textures to your image. However, they should be chosen strategically and make sense for the product you are shooting. They should emphasize the product, rather than distract away from it. This image uses fruits and herbs as props, evoking bright, summery flavors and the herbal infusion of Bombay Sapphire gin.
For a different approach, you can ditch the props and make your product the focus of the image. In this case, a simple yellow gold ball is shot in a field of royal purple, creating a final image that pulls the viewer in. Complementary combinations use colors from opposite ends of the color wheel, and they tend to be bold. Sports teams often use complementary colors, so if you like this idea, check out some jerseys for color inspiration.
As online shopping becomes increasingly the norm, showcasing the unique features of a product through photography is more important than ever. When it comes to shooting cosmetics and skincare, the texture is often one of the major selling features. This photo takes an unconventional approach to texture photography, evoking a visceral feeling of what this product feels like for the viewer.
Source: Format user Glowy Nur
5. Let Yourself Be Cheeky
While humor may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to product photography, it can be really successful. This photo doesn’t rely on fancy product sets or complicated lighting setups. Instead, a cute and playful approach is taken to style a handful of conventionally masculine products. The final image is memorable makes a statement and invites people to take a closer look at the products that make up the face.
If you’re shooting a product that has technical features, you can make your product photography more appealing by finding ways to emphasize those features. It’s not just about the aesthetic qualities of the product. One glance at this image tells you that the jacket is not only stylish but also waterproof, making it perfect for active people who aren’t going to be stopped by a little bit of rain.
This image of a whisky bottle is extremely sparse: almost the entire image is jet black. It looks like a focused light source is placed behind the bottle, providing just a bit of light illuminating its outline. Between the logo and the outline of the bottle, the product is immediately recognized as Johnnie Walker scotch whisky. If you’re shooting a product from a recognizable brand, this less-is-more approach can draw attention to the iconic nature of the brand itself.
Sometimes, a little change in perspective is all it takes to make a product look enticing. Iced coffee may be a fairly ubiquitous and unexciting product, but by placing it on a pedestal and shooting from slightly below, it becomes stately and larger-than-life. Shooting your product from a few different perspectives to see how it changes the look of the final image can be a good way to train your eye.
Some product photographers also have a knack for product styling, and if that’s you, by all means, experiment with creating different sets for your product shoots. However, if product styling isn’t really in your skillset, you may want to consider collaborating with a stylist to beef up your portfolio. If you can find someone who you work well with, you can help each other book more gigs by regularly recommending one another.
Your approach to each product photo you take should be informed by the final destination of the image. For example, website hero images are typically elongated landscape shots, while images for Instagram stories should be framed more narrowly. Your client may want room to include text, like in this example. Understanding these needs can help you take better, more useful product photos.
You probably already have everything you need to set up a high-quality product photoshoot, and if not, a quick trip to the dollar store will have you covered. These ideas don’t require complex setups, and you can apply them to all kinds of different products. Try these ideas to take your product photography from average to unforgettable.
1. Experiment With Fishing Line
Seeing products defy gravity and levitate never seems to get old. It’s a fun approach to product photography that, luckily, is pretty easy to recreate in your home studio. You’ll need a C-stand or something like a bar for seamless paper, along with some fishing line. Suspend your products using some fishing line and position them where you’d like by moving the stand, and removing the finishing line in post-production.
Changing the color of the light in your shots can instantly change the mood of your image. You may be able to recreate this kind of effect in Photoshop, but if you prefer getting the image right out of your camera, playing around with colored gels on your lights and flashes is a good way to see how different colored lights will change the feel of your final image.
A super simple way to amp up your standard product photos is by shooting on a reflective surface. This instantly elevates an image and makes it look more professional. You can use a sheet of glass or acrylic to create this effect and remove the edge of the glass later when you’re editing. If you don’t have sheets of glass or acrylic lying around, the glass from a photo frame can do the trick.
Interesting shadows can add a lot of character to a product photo. Without the shadows, this image would be a nice but unremarkable photo of a purse. The shadows, combined with the sandy backdrop color, give the image an air of a sunny, luxurious getaway, without having to include any props. You can DIY this effect by putting something between your light source and the object you’re shooting, such as a leafy plant.
By layering the different elements of the set, this image creates an interesting composition with a sense of depth and texture, without necessarily cluttering the frame. All kinds of different products could be shot using this set, and by repainting the blocks, the set could be used again and again for different products. Having some basic pieces like this on hand means you can take great product photos anytime.
This image of a pint of beer is made interesting by how frothy it is, and how the froth spills over the edge of the glass. It’s a simple product image, but by putting all the emphasis on the frothiness of the beer, the viewer can’t help but be reminded of the feeling of that first sip on a hot day. The photographer gets into your head by tapping into your desires for a very effective, clean image.
If you’re planning on shooting product photos, a macro lens is a handy thing to have. You don’t necessarily need to splurge on an expensive one if you don’t have the budget for it; there are decent lens attachments for most major brands that can do the trick. By shooting this skincare product with a macro lens, we see all the little natural-looking exfoliating particles, which instantly make you feel refreshed and evoke clean, natural ingredients.
Product photography is often done in a studio setting because of the level of control it gives the photographer. In a studio, you can control the lighting, avoid dust and dirt, and reposition your product as many times as you need until it’s just right. However, some products are perfect for outdoor shoots. The natural light and pavement in this shot evoke getting up early and being active outdoors, which would be trickier to capture in-studio.
Who doesn’t love a bit of bokeh? This dreamy lens effect is well-suited to shooting jewelry since it gives an image a soft, romantic look. Combined with the light pink background, the bokeh in this shot emphasizes the sparkle of the ring, while still letting the product itself take center stage in the shot. It also echoes the circle of smaller stones surrounding the main one.
The Instagram-driven trend in recent years has been to shoot products with hard, bright lights since they can stand out on a small screen. However, as with all trends, after a while, the eye craves something new. By illuminating the backdrop rather than the product itself, this image evokes sunset, which perfectly complements the theme of a picnic that is hinted at by the products themselves.
Source: Format user Julie Saulue
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