Product photography is one of the most demanded photographs and with the greatest job opportunities in the photographic field today. With the rise of commerce, companies and entrepreneurship, this type of photography has become one of the fundamental pillars in all sales, marketing and communication processes of companies.
It is consolidated and developed hand in hand with advertising and marketing. When talking about product photography, it is understood within the context of these forms of communication, which initially began with much more manual and rudimentary forms.
Since then, product photography, hand in hand with commercial photography, have undergone constant evolution in the integration of technologies and techniques to capture and portray the best visual attributes of a product, with a view to selling and marketing them.
In this article we will know in detail about product photography, objectives, techniques and types of it, with which you can have the theoretical bases of this type of photography in your first steps as a professional product photographer.
What is a product?
Before dealing with product photography it is important to discern what a product is in the area of advertising . An object or article whose physical attributes or perceptible characteristics are adapted to the needs of the consumer awakening in him his desire to buy to differentiate and position it according to the brand, it constitutes a product.
Today in marketing the product is not only associated with a tangible object, a watch, a car, a camera, but also with a service that is added to the acquisition of the same . They are usually concepts that are confused but are well differentiated.
What is product photography?
Product photography is a category or branch of commercial or advertising photography. It presents a certain product in an attractive, suggestive and desirable way with the in order to incite interest towards it and promote the purchase by the consumer. This type of photography seeks to highlight the characteristics of the product, highlight details, its benefits, making it appealing through images that impact and carry the buyer to action.
It is to photograph any object or item likely to be bought: some shoes, a piece of furniture, a mobile phone. Its image demands high quality standards because the consumer’s appreciation of the product and therefore its success in the market will depend on it.
Objective of the Product Photo
Since its inception product photography has always aimed to increase sales. It should be remembered that the old advertising posters were only limited to presenting and describing the product with a direct message to the action that the advertiser expected from the consumer: the purchase.
Today, the message has been sublimated with the use of metaphor, images that exalt the senses and associate the product with a context of pleasure, well-being and comfort in order to create needs that will be satisfied with the purchase. This type of photography has diversified by leaps and bounds in terms of content.
The photographer works hand in hand with publicists, psychologists, creatives who plan the concept to be transmitted associated with the product and who seek to penetrate the psyche of whoever observes the photograph. It uses suggestive, evocative images, associated with unconscious desires that seek to awaken the acquisition of the product. The result? images of high creative and artistic value where lighting and color are combined at the service of the advertising message.
If you want to dedicate yourself to this branch of photography, you must bear in mind that your mission is to portray a product . Yes, portray it, bring it closer to the consumer, recreate and maximize its attributes, to arouse their interest, make it desirable and consequently encourage their purchase. Therefore, your capture objective will be the article or product standing out as center of interest of the photo, highlighting its characteristics on a neutral background so that the consumer have as much visual information as possible .
Types of Photography Product
The product image photography itself is one that highlights the characteristics and attributes of an article or object. It resorts to the exaltation of aspects such as size, color, brightness and everything that makes it visually attractive . Therefore, it is worthwhile to make high resolution images to highlight the best of the product but with fidelity. The target media for product photography are usually catalogs, billboards, newspapers, magazines, websites and online stores that need to expose the products in detail to facilitate the purchase decision.
Within the types of product photography we can highlight variants that have to do not only with the type of product to be sold (tangible objects) but also with the context and the sensations involved in acquiring it.
From there stands out lifestyle photography , which not only sells us a house, land, signature clothing, a tourist package, but the lifestyle and the sensations it offers us when acquiring it. It is noteworthy that this type of photography goes beyond product photography, reaching advertising photography where there are several elements and forms that enter into the composition of the photograph in addition to the narrative aspect.
Gastronomic photography consists of portraying dishes, desserts or drinks exalting sensations that drive the viewer to desire to taste them. The images must communicate through the play of light and color, the texture, freshness, aroma and creaminess of flavors that activate the taste memory of the viewer and stimulate the desire to eat them. It is a type of photography that must be done carefully. It demands captures of the product from different angles and a good editing job to achieve the desired effect.
Technique for taking product photographs
The technique of product photography is one of the most meticulous and one that requires the most dedication. As a beginning artist in this type of photography, it is important to know that it is governed by the contracting of brands and clients, who impose high levels of demand, quality standards and delivery times.
But in return it will ensure a good remuneration in addition to your prestige as a photographer, but keep in mind that it can demand hours locked in a studio experiencing the best shots with the set of lights and the product to be photographed.
Take into account the background
Technically it requires special conditions which starts working on a neutral background, be it black or white . These tones are achromatic, which will not give it any character or distort the appearance of the object, so it is recommended to use them to highlight the product.
The white background is suitable for objects with bright colors and an opaque appearance, in addition to food. This background makes it easy to crop and integrate photography into catalogs and websites. The black background gives a touch of sobriety and luxury to translucent objects such as bottles and perfumes. Start working with cardboard as a background and white acrylic as a base as it gives you a uniform polished appearance and allows you to take advantage of the reflection of the objects integrated into the graphic.
You can also experiment with a variety of backgrounds outdoors, bringing the product into focus and making the background elements out of focus. This will give you very striking results, especially for your publication on social networks.
Take care of the lighting
When it comes to lighting we will have here the core aspect that will define the quality of a product photo and will put your talent to the test. A good light source will make the best use of the object’s qualities in terms of color , texture and opacity. Natural light would be the ideal but its variability will affect the photography so it is recommended to provide yourself with good sources of artificial light.
Good lighting equipment includes flashes, reflectors, diffusers, and lamps. You must take into account the lighting recommendations according to the appearance of the product . For opaque objects, hard light that is projected from an overhead or reflector is used. The use of the diffuser for reflective surfaces. Use of lamps for the entrance of lateral light in order to highlight the volume of the objects by creating chiaroscuro areas. Slope so that unplanned external lights are not infiltrated such as skylights, skylights or windows as they distort the work.
Check the objectives
Product photography requires a quality finish and high professionalism. To do this you must use a macro lens, it does not matter if the object is very close the important thing is to focus it to obtain maximum detail . If your photographic studio is small, use a long 90mm focal length lens to capture general shots and close-ups of the object, which will allow you to take care of the background.
Take care of the appearance of the product
Regarding the product, it must be impeccable in appearance , free of dust, grease, fingerprints, folds and everything that can be captured in detail and that will reduce the cleanliness of the photo. You must be careful in handling it as you will need to take several captures from different planes until you find the correct one. Using the dummy or perfect replica of the product to use will make your job easier.
Use all your tools
For professional product photographs you must have all the resources at your fingertips. You should not forget to use a good stand or tripod for your camera. For product photos we need stability to take long exposure photos. It would also be important to provide a remote shutter release to avoid camera shake when the images are captured.
Capture from different angles
Regarding the framing you must vary the position of the product to take different shots and different perspectives until you find the correct one always attached to the true expression of the object . If the photograph will be included in online stores, you must vary and capture in different positions of the article to broaden the vision and knowledge of the customer of the product.
Don’t forget to take your captures in RAW, this will give you more freedom of action in the editing phase. The apertures must be reduced, which will allow greater product clarity and depth of field. The ISO at 100 to avoid sounds that interfere with the shot. Make a correct white balance so that the object is expressed with its real colors.
Refine the details of the result
Finally editing and post-production of your photos will end up retouching their finish and quality . Adjusting whites, defining shadows, reframing, highlighting highlights, removing some dirt to obtain an optimal photo requires some investment of laboratory work.
There is nothing left but to let practice and experimentation do its job to become a professional product photography professional. If you can fully understand each trick with the play of lights as well as the different frames, you can say that you will be prepared for any challenge since in terms of technical aspects it is the most complex type of photography. You will not miss work because it is a work highly demanded by marketing and advertising