Welcome to Glassfancy

A whole lot of fused glass and then some …

My Tips and Tricks for Product Photography, Part 2

Welcome to the second part of My Tips and Tricks for Product Photography!

In the first part I discussed the photo setup that I have tinkered together. Now we are going to take a closer look at photo backgrounds and props, photo composition and angles and depth.
All these aspects play into one another and are undoubtedly intertwined.

Before starting to shoot photos of your creations, I think it would be wise to sit down and think about the style and feel of your products. Does your needlework have a romantic flair? Do your soaps emphasis the natural and earthy? Does your jewelry fall smack in the middle of steam punk?
In your photos it is important that the background does not clash with your product style. You want it to subtly support the feel your product gives off or supply a perfectly neutral background.
In my opinion, it is also unwise to put your item in front of such a strong or busy background that it goes under and becomes anything but the main focus of the photo.

In the following photo I have tried to do all the wrong things to show you what I mean.

My fused glass is contemporary and modern, so I use very neutral props like near white stones that I found on the beach or other backgrounds that have simple but flowing lines. Since my jewelry also makes a strong color statement and is at least partially transparent, I usually tend to choose white or near white backgrounds rather than dark ones.
For metal objects, for example, a dark background would provide a better contrast and makes the item stand out better. Or for a steam punk product, to choose another example, props with sharp corners and angles are probably a better choice than backgrounds with soft flowing lines.
My main point here is to really think about what compliments your product and don’t just go for the next best item that is in arm’s reach as a background.

Now let’s look at a few more things you can do to make your photos more than just informative for your buyers.

Photo composition is a very important tool that is at your disposal. 
I encountered the rules for composition some time in school and university but I have to admit that I never consciously make my composition decisions based on any rules. I pretty much don’t remember them and I simply decide based on whether it looks good to me or not.
However, there are a gazillion articles on the web about the rules of composition in photography. And I do encourage you to read up on it but  since I am not a photographer I would rather not regurgitate someone else’s knowledge here.

If you don’t feel like reading whole articles and you don’t feel like getting all into theory about it, let me stress the most important rule, in my book, in just a few words.
Don’t center your main focus (namely your item) in the photo!

Compare the following two very similar photos.

The photo of the centered donut looks a lot more static. Placing it slightly off-center adds direction and makes the photo look more interesting.

Obviously, there are always exceptions to the rules and you should follow your instinct when it tells you to break them. I do it all the time.

Now, let’s have a look at the difference angles can make.
I believe it is always a good idea to provide one perfect frontal view among the photos that you are allowed for each item listing. But I also believe that it would be a mistake to make this frontal view photo the first photo your potential buyers see.
The first visual encounter that people have with your product should be the hottest and most gorgeous photo you have and it doesn’t always have to even show the entire item. This is your chance to capture people’s attention and make them click further into your listing.

Consider the effect of the following angles.

I usually take a few shoots from each angle and then pick the one that speaks to me most as my first representative photo. There probably is some kind of theoretical rule and explanation to the effect of each angle, but honestly, I just let my gut decide.
However, I don’t think there has been even a single instant when the frontal view was the best looking angle. And when it comes to items made of glass, you can only really show transparencies and texture when you angle your photos.

The next and last aspect that I would like to discuss in this part of the series is depth.
It mostly applies when you have more than one item in your photo but depending on your background, you can create a sense of depths with that as well.

Compare the following two almost identical photos. I chose a very simple and plain view to try to not sidetrack the eye.

You can create foreground, middle ground, and background by placing several items at different distances from the camera and shooting the photo at a very shallow angle. You can force your camera to increase or decrease the resulting blur. I found a great article that explains it really well. You can check it out HERE.

There is also another way to create this depth blur. A lot of photo editing software programs have special functions to achieve this effect. But that will be part of the discussion in the third part of this series.

I hope this post was helpful and if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to share!

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October 9, 2010 - Posted by | Photography | , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I completely agree that the frontal views often don’t look good. The reason is that the light doesn’t bounce from flat frontal surfaces exactly towards camera lenses and so we see less highlights and less detail without which product shots look dull. In our 360 product photography this is always an issue with the central/frontal product shots which often appear pale comparing to the rest of the 360 images.

    Comment by Mark (360 product photography) | October 11, 2010 | Reply

    • Mark, ‘dull’ is exactly the word!

      Comment by Kim | October 11, 2010 | Reply


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