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Professional product photography guide.

Product photography is a branch of photography that covers the photographing of products for commercial purposes, also called commercial product photography. This type of photography can include products for use in advertisements, packaging, or online sales, to name a few. 

Product photography typically requires specialized equipment and techniques and an understanding of commercial product styling. It’s all about making the product look its best. This means choosing the right location, lighting, and angle to make the product stand out. 

It is also important to consider the background and props carefully, as they can help tell the product’s story and make it more relatable to the viewer. 

Product photography can be a challenging but rewarding field. And if you’re interested in making a career in product photography, we recommend you start here to familiarize yourself with the basics first.

packages of snacks

What is product photography?

Product photography is a specialized form of photography that focuses on capturing images of products in order to promote and sell them. It can be used for online and traditional marketing purposes and is an essential tool for any business selling products. 

Product photography can be used to capture images of products for use in advertising, brochures, catalogs, eCommerce, and other marketing materials. It can also be used to create product shots for websites and online stores. 

Product photography can be performed in a studio or on location and can be shot using a variety of different techniques. Common subjects of product photography include food, makeup, beauty, cosmetics, clothing and shoes, jewelry, and even packaging materials. Basically, any physical product that can be purchased will likely need some form of product photography.

perfume and flowerss

Product photography definition.

Product photography is the art of taking pictures of products to show them in their best light. It can be used for both commercial and non-commercial purposes but is most often used to sell products online or in advertising

Product photography is usually done with a digital camera, such as a DSLR or medium format digital camera, although some photographers still use film cameras depending on the application.

Product photographers must have an eye for detail and be able to make even the most mundane objects look appealing. To do this, they often use a variety of lighting techniques and props to achieve the desired look.

Why is product photography important?

Business owners know that product photography is important. After all, product photos are often the first thing potential customers see when they visit a website or social media page. 

And if those photos aren’t appealing and high-quality, they can reflect poorly on a brand. Poor product photos can hurt a business’s chances of making a sale.

Product photography is essential for many businesses, whether they are selling physical products or services. Good product photography can make all the difference in whether or not a potential customer decides to make a purchase.

Types of product photography.

While product photography may seem straightforward in that it’s about taking photos of static items, there’s a lot of depth to this style. Ensuring the product is shown in a way that is creative, enticing, and represents the product accurately takes a lot of knowledge and skill.

There are many different types of product photography, each with its benefits and drawbacks, making them suitable for different applications and purposes. 

perfume bottle

Individual product photography.

Individual product photography is a specialized form of photography that focuses on capturing high-quality images of a single product. This type of photography is often used by businesses to showcase their products in advertising and marketing materials, as well as in online stores.

Individual product photography can be challenging, as it requires the photographer to capture all the details of the product in a way that is both accurate and aesthetically pleasing. To achieve this, photographers often use special lighting techniques and equipment.

When done correctly, individual product photography can help businesses show off their products in the best possible light and attract more customers.

body soap with water and lime

Hero shot.

A hero shot is a product photo that shows the item in all its glory, often against a white or neutral background. The term is often used in marketing and advertising and can be applied to any product

Hero shot product photography is important because they give potential customers a clear idea of what the product looks like and how it can be used. They can also be used to show off a product’s features or make it look more appealing. The hero shot is about showcasing the product in a way that communicates more than just the product. It highlights the brand spirit and the mood of the product, and it’s often enhanced with the use of props, lighting, and location. 

macro of bars of soap

Detail product photography.

Product photography that focuses on the intricate details of a product can be invaluable for online shoppers. By providing clear and concise images of the product, customers can better understand what they are interested in purchasing. 

When done correctly, detail product photography can result in more sales and satisfied customers.

There are a few things to keep in mind when taking detailed shots of products. First, use a tripod to avoid blurry images. Second, use a macro lens to get close-up photos without distortion. 

A technique often used for detail work is focus stacking where multiple images of the same product, at different focal points, are then stacked together in post-production. 

sanitizing products

Group product photography.

Group product photography is a type of commercial photography that involves photographing products in a group setting. This can be done for different purposes, like advertising and marketing, or to provide a complete view of a product bundle or product line

Group product photography can be done in a studio or on location and often uses a variety of props and backdrops to create the desired effect.

woman in city with sunglasses

Lifestyle product photography.

Lifestyle product photography is a type of photography that focuses on capturing images of products in real-world settings

This can include images of products used by people in their everyday lives or in more staged setups that still aim to capture a natural and realistic look. 

Lifestyle product photography is often used by businesses to help market their products in a relatable and appealing way. Helping the customer see the product in action can help them visualize themselves using it, and may lead to them making the purchase. 

Some important aspects of taking excellent lifestyle product photos include:

  • The message you want to convey with your image and the kind of setting that will help communicate that message effectively.
  • The lighting and composition to create an aesthetically pleasing image.
  • The props and accessories to add interest or realism to your scene.

model wearing sunglasses

Model product photography.

Model product photography is a specialized form of commercial photography involving photographing products for use in advertisements or catalogs. 

Product photos are often taken with models to help show off the products in the best light possible. This is similar to lifestyle photography in the sense that they involve a human element but model product photography can be much more staged, conceptual, and cinematic. For example, think of perfume or wristwatch commercials. 

To make your product photos look their best, professional photographers should know how to style and shoot products, but they also need to know how to work with models, and how to get them to pose to highlight the product. Product photography can be done in a studio or on location, depending on the product and the desired look.

Scale

Scale product photography is a technique used to capture images of products that are too large or too small to be photographed using traditional methods. 

This type of photography can be used to document products for advertising, scientific, or technical purposes. 

Scale product photography can be challenging due to the need to accurately capture the size and proportions of the product in the image. This type of photography often requires special equipment and lenses, such as macro or wide angle lenses, and special lighting techniques.

headphone on surface

Flat lay product photography.

Flat lay product photography is a style of photography that involves taking pictures of products from above

This type of photography can be used to show off a product’s features or create an aesthetically pleasing image. It is often used in advertising and marketing, making products look more appealing to customers.

There are a few things to keep in mind when taking flat lay product photos. First, the background should be clean and simple. This will help the product stand out and be the focus of the image

Second, the products should be arranged aesthetically. Think about what would look good to the eye and create a pleasing composition. Finally, the lighting should be flattering to the products. Soft, diffused light is often best for flat lay product photography.

3D product photography. 

3D product photography is a specialized field that involves taking pictures of three-dimensional products to show them in their best light. 

This type of photography can be used for various purposes, including advertising, product development, and even scientific research.

A few different techniques can be used to take high-quality 3D product photos. One of the most important things to remember is that the products being photographed need to be well-lit to ensure that all details are visible. 

Using a tripod when taking 3D product photos is also important, as this will help keep the camera steady and prevent any blurring.

360º product photography.

360 product photography is a type of photography that allows you to capture all sides of an object in one image or video

This can be done with specialized equipment, like a 360 product photography turntable, or by taking multiple photos from different angles and stitching them together into one image.

This type of photography is often used for online product listings, giving potential customers a complete view of the item before purchasing it. 

It can also be used for marketing purposes, such as creating virtual tours or 360-degree videos of a business or product.

CGI skateboard

CGI

CGI product photography is a type of photography that uses computer-generated images to create realistic product shots. It is sometimes also used to showcase a creative product idea that is difficult or impossible to create in real life.

This type of photography is often used for products that are difficult to photograph in real life, such as products with intricate details or in motion

CGI product photography can also be used to create photos of products that do not exist yet, such as prototypes.

Subjects product photographers focus on the most.

Product photographers often focus on photographing small items like food, jewelry, clothing, shoes, or cosmetics. They may also photograph larger items, such as furniture, appliances, or vehicles.

bowl of cereal with splash of milk

Food photography. 

Food product photography is a type of photography that focuses on capturing images of food products. This can include items such as packaged goods, prepared dishes, and ingredients

Product photographers often work with commercial clients to create images used in advertising or packaging. They may also work with cookbooks and other publications to produce photos of recipes of finished dishes.

Product photography requires a particular set of skills and knowledge to be successful. Photographers must be able to capture images that accurately represent the food product while also making it look appealing to potential customers. 

Known as food styling, this can be a challenge, as food can often look very different from how it tastes or smells. Many times photographers will work with food stylists to achieve the final look.

red lipstick and polish

Makeup, beauty, and cosmetics.

Makeup, beauty, and cosmetic products make for good subjects for product photography. These images aim to make the products look premium and appealing to make a sale. 

Makeup product photography or cosmetic product photography can include subjects from lipsticks to eyeshadows, whether individually, in a set, or used by a model. Skincare and perfume are subjects you would also encounter under the umbrella of beauty product photography.

sneakers on display

Clothing and shoes.

Clothing product photography is a specific type of fashion photography that focuses on capturing images of clothing and apparel products. Shoe product photography also goes into this niche. 

This type of photography can be used for commercial and marketing purposes and often involves specialized equipment and techniques. 

Clothing product photographers must be able to capture high-quality images that accurately represent the product, and they must also be able to work with a variety of different types of clothing and fabric.

There are a few different ways to approach clothing product photography, but one of the most important things to keep in mind is that the focus should always be on the product. The background should be simple and uncluttered, and the lighting should be flattering and neutral.

engagement ring on black backdrop

Jewelry

Jewelry product photography is a branch of commercial photography that covers photographing jewelry products

It is one of the most challenging and complex genres of product photography, as it requires not only expert knowledge of lighting and composition but also an understanding of how to best capture the intricate details and unique qualities of each piece.

Jewelry product photographers must be able to work with various jewelry styles, from classic diamond solitaires to more modern pieces, and be skilled in studio and natural light photography

In addition, they must be able to retouch photos to bring out the sparkling brilliance of each piece.

beauty products packaged for product shot

Packaging 

Product packaging is one of the most important elements of any product. It not only needs to be eye-catching and attention-grabbing, but it also needs to convey the right message about the product. 

Good product packaging photography can make all the difference in whether or not a potential customer picks up your product off the shelf.

There are a few things to remember when shooting product packaging photography. First, you want to make sure the lighting is good. This means that there should be no glare or shadow on the product. 

Second, the background should be simple and uncluttered. You don’t want anything to distract from the product itself. Finally, you want to make sure the product is in focus and that all the details are visible.

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