5 Product Photography Tips
With Product Photography, it is important to capture the message of the Brand and its Product in a single image that invites its audience into their world. That image should be striking enough to grab your attention (especially as it may be competing with other Product advertisements!) and make you want to find out more about the product. The process of creating them, however, is not as daunting as it may sound - so here are 5 tips on how you can create your own Product Photography!
The first thing that can really bring your product photography to life are textures. Find a suitable "location" for your props that will enhance its story. This might be a beautiful wooden table, a reflective black surface, or a fluffy blanket!
The important thing here is that whatever you're using to set the scene must add to the story of the product being photographed. For example with the Fragrance above, I've used a fluffy pillow with little glass beads to pair with the design of the bottle.
To pair with the textures, and help add to the story and make for a more interesting image you can add some additional props to the scene. The key to choosing props is they should be fairly discrete - you don't want anything that is going to take away focus from the Product itself.
Aim to stick to a consistent colour palette with whatever props you might choose, and be thinking of colour theory when selecting things - what colours will compliment and contrast with the Product you are photographing?
Here is an example, photographing a cocktail known as an "Old Fashioned" which I paired with an old timey gentleman's fob watch, just to help emphasise that old fashioned feeling!
Simplicity is often your friend, you don't want to clutter up the set with things that don't need to be there. If it doesn't have purpose in the over-all story of the image, consider removing it.
3) Choose your Lens
Which lens you choose will depend on your set up, and to an extent you can get away with any lens choice as long as your set is designed to accommodate it. However, for individual items, I recommend using a Macro lens which is designed to focus on images close up. I use a 100mm Macro lens for most of my product photos, which creates a beautiful shallow depth of field that really draws attention to the product your photographing.
For wider set ups featuring multiple products or set pieces you might consider using a 50mm or a 35mm. Get to know your lenses and the feel they create, and don't be afraid to try out different lenses for different effects! Each lens will bring a unique style to the image!
4) Focus Stacking
When shooting, particularly with a Macro lens, you will find that it has a very shallow depth of field and this may result in parts of your product being out of focus. Ideally, you want as much of the product in focus as possible, and you can do this with focus stacking.
For this, you need to set your camera up on a tripod and maintain a consistent set - objects and lighting must remain the same for each shot taken in order to stack them properly! Once set up, and everything is in place, you take several photographs - usually between 5 and 8 - adjusting the focus each time so that the plane of focus shifts through the entire product. The result should be several images which, when combined, make up the entire in-focus product.
You can then run these through Photoshop, which will automatically stack them into one image. I've included a video below to show you how! It's incredibly easy to do as long as the source images are all consistent!
5) Tell the Brands Story
An image can say a thousand words, and the whole purpose of product photography is to tell as much about the product as possible in a single image. People need to be able to look at it, identify immediately what the product is and who the product is aimed for. Every element of your image should reflect that message. Take time to research the Brand and the product so you understand that message. Is the Brand premium and luxurious? Is the Brand minimalist? Is the Brand environmentally conscious? There's many questions like these you can ask yourself to really help tell their story and invite their audience into their world.
For instance, with the image above I was creating food photography for a premium dessert house. The story being told is that they make delicious, beautifully presented desserts - based around waffles, pancakes and ice creams, all of which can be customised by the guest. Just by looking at this image, it hopefully makes you want to go and try it - and you wouldn't be surprised to walk into a beautiful restaurant as opposed to a fast food place. Note the simplicity of the image. You really don't have to go overboard with selling the story, a lot of subtle clues - such as the design of the plate and the presentation - will provide subtle context to the story.
Make sure to take the time to polish and clean up your product of any fingerprints and dust before you start shooting! Also be aware of any unwanted reflections in any glossy products!
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