The Hidden Art Of Product Photography

Published: 12th November 2011
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It's very easy to assume that product photography is all about photographing products. The truth, however, is rather different. That's not to say that the products don't feature in the photographs, but there's a good deal more that's going on. When you look in a catalogue at a photo of a wardrobe, or a bed, what do you see?

You might very well reply that what you see is a photograph of the bed, or of the wardrobe. But that's not what you're seeing at all. You're often seeing so much more than that, and this is where not only the skill of the product photographer comes into play, but also the vast list of contacts which any professional photography studio will have access to.

The fact is that if you take a photograph of a bed, it's going to look pretty uninviting. It's just a lot of metal pipes or wooden boards all joined together, possibly with a fairly dull looking mattress stuck on top. There's relatively little to get anyone especially worked up about it, despite the fact that it might be one of the most fantastic beds around. When people look at a product they often need to see a great deal more than just the product. What really sells is enabling a person to imagine owning the product.

It's much the same way when it comes to selling houses. Selling a completely unfurnished bare house is very much harder than selling one with a few items of furniture or items of decoration in it. As long as the personality and character of the current or previous occupier isn't too obvious any prospective buyer will be able to visualise using the house themselves. They can see the bedroom, not just a bare room, and they can see the dining room and imagine sitting down with friends, rather than another bare canvas.

Artists look at a blank canvas and see a world of possibilities. The rest of us tend to stare at the canvas and think that it's either terribly intimidating, or just dull. The same is true when it comes to product photography. If you show someone a bed, and nothing else, then you're showing them the empty house, not a home, or the blank canvas, rather than a world of possibilities.

This is why many examples of product photography either in catalogues or online show the bed made up, with attractive but neutral bedding on it. The bed will be in a room, with carpet and walls, a window with curtains and perhaps one or two items of furniture, a vase of flowers and a rug. All of this turns the product from an object into something the consumer can imagine using, and can visualise in their own room.

But of course to achieve this needs many things. It needs access to a suitable location, or a very large studio, a range of suitable furniture items, and someone to construct them, and take them apart afterwards, and someone to design and plan the look of the room in order to show the bed off in the best possible way.

It's this access to contacts which gives the professional product photographer a real advantage over those people who try to take in house photographs of their products. Surprisingly product photography needn't be very expensive at all, but of course the real benefit is that having a product image which grabs attention and helps show a customer a home, not a house, meaning that the sales will inevitably be higher, helping to more than cover the costs of a one off photo shoot.

The Packshot People Ltd can offer low cost, high quality product photography solutions for businesses, including packshot images and advertising images.

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