Product photography is so much more than just a niche of photography. Several industries wouldn’t even exist in their present-day forms without product photography. For example, the marketing industry roughly stands at 53-55 Billion USD currently.
What is Product Photography?
Product photography uses skills and techniques to showcase a product in a way that instantly grabs the attention of a potential buyer. It is one of the primary tools to make people aware of a product.
Product Photography as a profession
Anyone can become a product photographer, but not everyone knows the art of shooting in a way that makes a product sell! With increasing eCommerce, this niche is more important today than ever. While shopping online, consumers cannot physically touch and examine the product; the visuals and photos of the product entice them to make a purchase.
Professional commercial photography is amongst some of the highest-paying jobs in the world. But besides that, anyone can make a good passive income by learning a few basic tips and tricks and investing some time and effort in this photography niche. There are hundreds and thousands of jobs on freelancing platforms for amateurs to skilled photographers. In fact, you might not even find it unusual that brands are hiring freelance product photographers for their advertisement campaigns and shoots for social media pages.
We compiled some tips and tricks to polish your skills as a product photographer and how you can improve your products’ photography.
Tips for Product Photography:
1. Invest your time
Some people do not consider it a tip, but an investment of time can make all the difference. The more time you will spend learning this craft, principles of photography, and finally practicing what you are learning, the more your work has chances to stand out. And honestly, if you pay attention, the only difference between professionals and rookies is knowledge of a skill and how long they are practicing it.
Firstly, explore the manual settings of the camera. Shooting manually gives the power of customization, which auto modes can never offer. Learn to control aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (collectively called as Exposure Triangle) independently. Soon enough, you will see differences in your work yourself.
Secondly, learn about light. Most product shooting is carried out in the studio, which makes light a vital element that a product photographer should know. Just messing up with lightning a little bit can change the image’s tone, exposure, and mood. Learn about different types of light, how those lights impact, their temperatures, angles of lightning so you can control and manipulate the lightning the way you want.
Thirdly, learn about using different types of photography gears.
Fourthly, learn about post-production, at least the basics of the editing process.
Last but not least, practice, practice, and practice! You can find your signature shooting style and lots of new techniques by just practicing and exploring stuff with your DSLR.
All the time you will spend on these things will surely help you establish yourself as a product photographer, but it will also help you as a photographer in general. All this learning can be applied to all niches of photography.
2. Invest in your personal studio
Investing in your personal studio space <- Affiliate Link 🙂 is an investment that sure will bring you a lot of return.
This space can be the smallest room at your place, and you can start with absolute basic and inexpensive equipment and gradually build it up.
Product photography is a necessity for every business today, no matter what their volume is. Bigger brands happily hire expensive professionals for their advertisements campaigns, but SMEs tend to hire freelancers more as they are much cheaper options. But still, most clients prefer freelancers with their studios as providing photographers with shooting space and all akin facilities is an additional cost. Having a personal studio will make your work easy and fun and increase your hiring rate.
3. Get photography gears
As mentioned prior, most of the product photography is carried out inside the studio and to fulfill an assignment. You will need one gadget or another. Basic equipment which you should have are:
- Camera: You need nothing crazy as a beginner. A digital camera can do a perfect job, but do not shy away from using your smartphone’s camera too. Some newer smartphone cameras are pretty powerful and with all the features of a basic DSLR.
- Tripod: To ensure camera steadiness and boost the quality of your product’s image.
- Lightning equipment: Start with basic lights and build up your collection with time
- Backdrops: backdrops are the most important thing in product photography after camera. The more backdrops you have, the more variety you can bring in your work but owning at least one plain white backdrop is a must!
- A standard folding table
4. Observe others’ work
Observe the work of fellow photographers. Study different websites, posters, and still ads that grab your attention. This will bring you a lot of inspiration and help you learn various things, i.e., unique angles, using lightning in a certain way, adding effects in post-production, ideas for a campaign, etc.
5. Offer free shots
If you are looking forward to starting product photography as a source of income, offer free photoshoots, especially in your locality. Reach out to local businesses or people you know and offer them your services free of cost. It will create a win-win situation for both parties; you will get positive word of mouth and marketing while that business will get free of cost shoot.
Ensure your contact info or at least a watermark is displayed with the photos you shot for free when used for commercial purposes.
Having a good portfolio is necessary for you if you want to pursue product photography. A photographer might not have extensive experience, but he can land big jobs to showcase his skills and capabilities with an impressive portfolio.
The idea of establishing may seem intimidating for beginners, but it is actually nothing. Just compile your best shots, and that’s your basic portfolio. Send this to your potential clients whenever you find an opportunity.
Free shots are a great option to get professional images for your portfolio, especially as a beginner.
An online presence can boost up the possibility of getting a photography job up to multiple folds. Also, you can reach a lot bigger audience online without any serious cost involved. Build a simple website, upload your best work, contact details, previous clients reviews, services you offer, and digitally showcase what you are capable of.
Online people can see all of your work, but sending a customized portfolio is always a good idea if you are interested in some specific job. It will show your potential client that you are professional and keen to get the job. Select your shots from your general portfolio related to the job description. You can also shoot and send clients a sample shoot if it’s a bigger job.
Time to time updates
As you keep working, your skills will keep refining. Also, you will keep getting better photographs over time. Update your portfolio from time to time so potential clients can see the best of your work.
7. Keep it simple
As the number of products and advertisements is increasing, human attention span is decreasing. Scrolling online or while passing by an aisle when doing groceries or while going through a catalog, a consumer will merely spend a few seconds looking at the image that too only if the visual was powerful enough to grab its attention. This makes simplicity in your photographs more important than ever.
Make sure that your background is not very cluttered. Avoid adding too many elements in an image as it can distract the consumer. Always choose plain and solid or very minimalistic and subtle backgrounds. Strong backgrounds will make products go unnoticed.
Simplicity doesn’t mean a lack of creativity. You can go creative but make sure the image is not cluttered, and your subject is the center of attention.
Carry out your product photography on the rules of minimalistic photography.
8. Use macro
Use digital zoom or macro lenses to shoot photos in macro mode, especially if your photos are for a website or an online store. It will highlight more features and smaller details of the product, which most people are looking for while shopping online.
Do not solely rely on macro shots. These should be in conjunction with normal photographs of the product.
If you are even remotely interested in product photography, there is a wide potential market out there for you. All you require is basic photography equipment, creativity in your photos to get people’s attention, and some basic rules and tips. The former two are up to you, but this product photography guide will fulfill the latter requirement!