Product Photography Guide – 3 types of shots to sell product

Product Photography Guide – 3 types of shots to sell product

January 13, 2020 52 By Peter Engel


what’s up my name is Nick Wichman and I
wanted to talk a little bit about product photography and the three
different types of photography you need to consider when working with a brand to
sell their products or represent them in any place that they’re gonna be selling
or showing their products. Let’s get into it! So the key to doing product photography
is context. Understanding, as the photographer, where the photos; where the
products are gonna be shown, where they’re gonna live. What, you know, what
their job is in that space. A lot of brands have websites, of course. The
website for the brand is their place to express themselves and their brand tone.
On the website the job for product photography is gonna be a little
different than, let’s say, on amazon.com where it is a strict, pure commerce
platform. it’s kind of brandless, you know. All those products– it’s not about
representing their brand and their brand’s tone and their brands and motive
qualities, it’s more about showing the product clearly and making some sales.
There’s three types of shots that I’m gonna go through. The first one is the
studio shot. That is on the cyc wall or in a lightbox it’s all on white. The
second one is lifestyle shot. Lifestyle shot is with some people, in a place,
showing off the product. Instead of isolated on white it’s showing it in
context with usually humans or some other inanimate objects. The third one is
the sweet close-up juicy sexy depth of field detail shots. These ones are the
ones I think I love the most because their job is to showcase elements of the
product in a sexy way that creates an atmosphere around the brand and around
their design. So let’s get into. the first one the studio shot when you’re shooting
studio shots you need a white backdrop where you take the paper and you curve
it behind the product so it feels like it’s an infinite white space in a large
scale you call this a psych wall the psych wall has curved corners that are
white so there’s illusion of infinite space only the product only the elements
you want to exist in this made-up space are there in a smaller space we use
light boxes which are those little boxes that have the cloth walls and then one
cloth that comes down and curves and then you can put lights on either side
product sits in the middle isolated looks great the key to studio product
photography is lighting you need the lighting to be balanced you need the
lighting to be natural so using a daylight coolness is more preferable
sometimes people use a tungsten light but generally speaking it should feel
like the only thing that you’re seeing in the photo is the product
there’s nothing distorting its view there’s no stylistic decisions being
made about the photo itself you want to keep your aperture fairly high because
you want the product in focus unless you’re getting a close-up around the
product in that white space which is totally fine but generally speaking the
product should be visible from all angles and depth of field is less of a
priority here the second style of product photography is the lifestyle
shot the point of the lifestyle shot is to give context to the customer the
shopper the the user as to how the hell this product actually works in the real
world I have this JBL speaker this sweet little portable device looks like this
that’s what it looks like but when you take a product photo of this on white
it’s hard to understand the scale it’s hard to understand what this thing
really is so we give it context by taking photos of it in the real world a
perfect example of a lifestyle shop or something like this would be to take
this get some models take do you need a location so we would go to the beach get
some towels get a picnic basket have the models holding their phones around this
little speaker and imply that they’re listening to Radiohead or something it
gives context to the product and scale it’s sitting next to them they
understand the users understand how big this thing is it’s kind of the same for
everything I mean jewelry you you like to see a
necklace or a cuff on a white backdrop because then there’s nothing obstructing
the view but if you don’t get to see it on a wrist that cuff might be the size
of a finger and that’s not ideal for the customer so you want to take a
contextual shot so the or understands the connection to them
and that’s what lifestyle shots are for the third style shot which I think is my
favorite it’s the sexy close-up juicy depth the field detail shop looking
across the product seeing it instead of one object you’re seeing it through the
lens which you choose as a landscape you’re turning what was hands held into
something that is experienced as if it is an entire environment for this JBL
speaker the the texture on this speaker grille would be a perfect place to do a
close-up juicy depth of field shot and these shots are used you know to show
the craft of the product it’s not really telling you about the quality of the
product necessarily it doesn’t tell me how loud this speaker is or how well it
connects to the Bluetooth all it does is show that the engineers who made this
really took their time and considered every angle which in turn implies to the
consumer that this is a well-thought-out quality product it’s necessary it’s a
psychological trick but it’s necessary the detail shot is really the
opportunity where you can use dramatic artistic lighting you can change the
angles to be almost unrecognizable forms of the product itself but it’s really
about telling an artistic story with the landscape which is the product my
recommendation is to use a macro lens a lens that has a short minimum focal
distance it can really get right in there close up on the product really
showcase the texture and the forms of the product in an abstract way
my favorite lens is the Sony G master 90 millimeter macro 2.8 it is a beast of a
lens and I use it all of the time for every product photo shoot that I do
this thing is is just beautiful it’s crisp truly the minimal focal distance
is what sets it apart from any other lens
I think the minimal focal distance for this is about 11 inches which means for
a 90 millimeter lens it’s so long that I can really just get in there and look
down the product and just get those sweet details it’s so great so consider
checking out a macro lens for those sexy close-ups to go back through these for
context context is key because really if you just want to take photos of products
for fun go ahead us other people are gonna be
out here taking product photography to sell some products to make a little
money because that’s what why we’re in this we love doing it but but if you’re
not monetizing your abilities and what the hell are you doing so context is
everything I’m gonna go back through those shots and give context of where
these images where these styles of photography will live the studio shots
are perfect examples of real commerce shopping photography when you go to
Amazon on the left you see that little photo over here shows the product you’re
not confused when you see it because it’s shot usually on white that is a
studio shot that it’s it’s about clarity and sales and that’s okay
number two the lifestyle shot lifestyle shots in commerce are to back up the
studio shots it’s to give clarity and context to the user that the product and
the product experience can relate to them by seeing it someone else relating
to the product they get to understand how they might be able to experience the
product which will push them to buy it but those types of shots are also great
for websites for the brand website where they’re showing a big hero space they’re
showing people loving that product or the product and its environment in a
living room or on a beach with the towel that’s great for a website to have as a
hero image and have copy over or have us as a support image with copy next to the
flexibility of that image is much broader than the studio shot beyond the
website both of those shots live in catalogues they can live in
print in any way you know you could print it like Apple does on the side I
have an Apple product Apple does their studio shots and they print it on big
prints the studio shot of the product on the box for the products that you’re
buying it’s an interesting method but it works this might be a render I don’t
know I don’t care the third style is shot those sexy juicy close-up shots
those are the ones that have the most flexibility contextually they have the
most flexibility contextually because not only are they supporting the product
maybe on the Amazon page that’s the last photo as you see those sexy shots or
down below in the description engineering porn for those who want to
see the details but on the website those may also live on the product page for
those brands but in reality it usually lives on the page in a contextual way
with copy supporting the promise of the brand that this product is dope that’s
the you know that’s the basics of it but they even beyond that we can live on the
homepage or a hero space on the website behind copy and it’s just a texture
that’s what’s beautiful about it it’s like once you get into the macro it just
becomes texture it’s really nice and you can use that on their website you can
use that on a brochure you can use that on a catalog it’s it’s all about
creating texture on a page rather than clarity of the story or product those
are the three types of photos that I see in in product photography that I use all
the time and I would recommend I’m going to go one step further and say that if
you are talking to a client and you’re considering taking their product
photography knowing the context of those photos is going to make you so much more
valuable to them if you look at the website see where they need these photos
and you build and structure your photography composition for that use
your job is half done for you you just have to go in take the types of shots
you need for those placements whether it’s print
or web or partner sites like Amazon or Best Buy or whatever it’s a roadmap for
what you need to do always keep that in mind
context is everything not every company understands that so if you can bring
that knowledge to them and say cool you want this studio shots of your products
that’s great you probably do need them but beyond that what are you planning on
doing how are you planning on using these how are you marketing yourself do
you have an Instagram do you need photos for that studio shots aren’t that great
for Instagram because there’s no connection to reality or human
experience so maybe you upsell them by saying this is what you probably need
beyond this and I can do it pretty affordably so we’ll take your studio
shots we’ll set up a lifestyle shoot with us get a couple people wherever in
a house in a barn and on a beach whatever the hell you want well also
grab our macro lens come in and take some super dope close-up photos of your
product for that rich beautiful contextual texture for the website for
Instagram we’re just gonna freakin knock it out of the park the clients gonna
love you you’re gonna stand out in your business because making sales for your
clients is what your job should be not making beautiful photography hopefully
those two can live together but in reality sales are what matters and sales
are what’s gonna keep you getting more work whoo that was a lot so I hope you
enjoyed this if you did please hit like and consider subscribing I’d love to
hear what you think about these these types of photography which one’s your
favorite what’s the craziest setup you’ve ever had to shoot some shoot some
product photography and and did it work out was it a nightmare and if you think
somebody could use this information but you send it to them. again my name’s Nick
Wichman if you have any questions about any of this stuff
hit me up I’ve been in the advertising business for a decade I’ve been the guy
looking for stock photos I’ve been the guy talking to the photographers and
videographers that we’ve hired I know what the sites need so now me
transitioning in the past couple years into photography and videography has
been so beneficial because really I’m just shooting from my own roadmap for
every project I’m on so if you need any insight hit me up I’m here I’m happy to
chat about anything you’ll do great I know it