Product Photography 101: 7 Essential Tips for Eye-Catching Photos


75% of online shoppers rely on product photos when they are deciding whether or not to buy an item.

Online shopping is experiencing ballooning growth as more people buy into its convenience. As a result, brands are flocking to sell their wares online.

The result has been a sharp rise in demand for product photography as brands look to make their items stand out online.

But professional photographers must be able to create high-quality photos with visual cues and contexts.

The following are seven photography tips to help you grow your skill and command top dollar.

1. Use the Right Aperture

Picking the aperture that best suits the image you are trying to take is critical for the perfect shot.

Although this is product photography 101, you will be surprised at how many photographers miss this.

Even experienced ones can mismatch the aperture with the shot they want to take and mess up their exposure.

Whenever you want to only take product lifestyle photos, the widest aperture is most suitable.

Use the lowest f-stop setting to keep the product at the center of the photo. Everything other than the subject should fade into beautiful bokeh.

For lifestyle shots that feature the product and either a model or another product, it is advisable to keep the aperture at 2.8 or thereabouts.

This ensures that the product and secondary subject remain in focus without being overpowered by the background.

Shooting a product shot in the studio? You will need a much narrower aperture. Remember to keep it wide enough so that you can capture details as sharply as possible.

2. Take Advantage of Color Theory

Color theory is the collection of rules and guidelines on how to best use color when it comes to art and design.

In photography, color theory comes into play psychologically. You have to think of how color or color combinations can reinforce a product or brand in the viewer’s eyes.

Different colors or combination of colors brings out various emotions, ideas or characteristics in people.

For example, the color blue evokes a feeling of trust in people. You can use it to create a shot that will make people associate dependability and strength with the product.

Use the principles of color theory to attract the right customers to the product at the center of the shot.

3. Watch the Tones

Once you grasp the importance of color in your photos, you need to keep in mind how to use color tones.

Keeping the tones as accurate as possible is critical to an excellent end product. You avoid distorting the picture and thereby diluting the outcome.

If you distort the colors, you risk misrepresenting the product. Such a mistake can have dire consequences when customers receive different items than the ones displayed in the advertisement.

Inaccurate color tones can also mess up your print advertising. Whatever master shots you give your commercial printing company for production purposes will result in unwanted posters and other print material.

When you are taking the shot, pay attention to the white balance to keep the tones from washing out. Ensure that your lighting isn’t tinted and stick to using photography bulbs.

When you are in post processing, edit the colors to match real-life tones as much as possible.

Also, check the image on different devices after exporting it to notice how the color changes across different screen types.

4. Don’t Overdo the Styling or Props

Whenever you are creating the set, there is a temptation to go overboard with the props, styling or the set itself.

No matter how cool or trendy you think the set, props or styling are, ask yourself if it is keeping in line with the brand.

Don’t edge out the negative space. It will be necessary when copy or other design elements need to be added to the final shot. Thus, create a simple backdrop.

As you are handling product shots it goes without saying that the labels and brand logo must be legible.

Watch out for inadvertent over-cluttering with the props. Keep an eye on everything that enters the shot so that you don’t take attention away from the product.

5. Be a Visual Storyteller

At its essence, photography is about telling a story. When you are shooting products you don’t just want to display them. You want to tell a story visually.

Pore over every curve, line, texture, and movement to get a sense of its character and purpose. Once you internalize all this, you will end up designing a shot that captures the mind.

For example, a simple shot of a bottle of beer or fizzy drink is passable but unremarkable.

However, if you were to create a shot that makes a viewer instinctively feel the fizz or coldness of the drink, your photo will be compelling.

6. Use a Standard Lens

If you are a product photographer you know that you need to represent the product as accurately as possible. Consequently, you can’t distort the image using lenses.

A wide angle lens, a fisheye, and other effects lenses will alter the proportions of the product in the photo.

Standard lenses, on the other hand, retain the closest perspective to the human eye and are the best for showing the product as is.

Use a 50mm standard lens for this task and keep in mind that any focal length between 40mm and 58mm is also considered normal.

7. Use Print Reviews

In today’ technology-infused world, using prints to review a final photo can sound archaic. People would rather use reference screens to assess the end product.

But print reviews can help you see things that might get lost on a digital screen.

Try printing the final version of the image, pinning it on the wall and stepping back to look at it. You might spot some edits that may end up making your results better.

Take Your Product Photography to the Next Level

As e-commerce booms, product photography has never been in higher demand. Whether you are an amateur or a pro photographer, this is the time to whet your skills in this art.

Check out more on our blog to learn all the skills you need to become a master behind the camera.

Published by

Jonathan Mookes

Matt is a long-time graphics and design professional, his current research is 3D imaging and video development using bleeding edge technology!

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