27 Sep Ten tips for photographic studio product shoots
Product photography is a huge genre that include a wide range of disciplines, from table top consumer products to full blown super car shoots. So how can you get the best from your product photography? Read on to find out more…
Know your product
All products have unique features which define them. A bicycle helmet may have a beautiful aesthetic design. Or sculpted aerodynamic vents borne from the wind tunnel. Using a dedicated photographic studio can allow you to create great product photography because you can showcase the features which define the product. It may be the internals of the product that are it’s selling point. Research and understand the product you’re shooting, and as a result the images you create will have impact and communicate the product’s values to your audience. Spend some time actually handling the product you’re shooting. Turn it over in your hands. Feel the texture of the materials. The curves and edges. The proportions of its features.
Create a mood board
Once you’ve developed an understanding of the product you’re shooting, it can be really useful to create a mood board. This can contain anything from fabric swatches to magazine tear outs to rough and ready sketches. The idea is to develop a visual reference which can also guide your lighting, set, and grip requirements.
Storyboard a sequence
The storyboard is a super useful tool if you need to develop a series of shots. If you’re shooting industrial tools, you could have the wrenches looking immaculate in their toolbox, then close-up in the greasy hand of a mechanic. Or shot wide, in action, in the pits of a Formula One team. Think about the story of your product. And finally the purpose it serves, the job it does, who uses it, and in what context.
Be certain of your shot list
Essential to any successful commercial shoot is a shot list. This gives clarity to the client that they’re getting everything they need from the shoot. And that consequently nothing will get missed in the buzz of the day.
Building a set at a photographic studio
A set can be as simple as a piece of fabric or a coloured backdrop. Or if you have access to a large enough photographic studio, it can be a fully reconstructed family living room. Complete with three piece suite, walls and windows, paisley wallpaper, and net curtains. A set gives your product context. Above all it can add an extra dimension compared to a straightforward product shot on a seamless background.
Get a grip
Often the most challenging part of a product shoot is sorting out the grip. How are you going to support that delicate gold necklace or that pair of sunglasses so you can shoot them at the angle you want for the advert? Clips, wire, blue tack, tape, and glue all come in handy in creating the Heath Robinson arrangements behind great studio photography images. A well equipped photographic studio will have a selection of grip for you to make use of. But it might be worth talking through your requirements with the studio ahead of your shoot.
Trip the light fantastic
Lighting is absolutely one of the most important aspects of great product photography. Sometimes referred to as commercial illustration, your lighting should accurately represent the form of the product, because highlighting its geometry and clearly describing its form is super important. High key lighting can communicate fresh, vibrant, energetic products, while low key lighting can express quality, security, strength, and trust. If you have a really ambitious project, specialist lighting and equipment is available for hire from places like Wex Rental or Lux Studios
Cover all the angles
Shoot your product from a range of angles. An overhead shot can provide a different perspective on a common product… think of a racing bicycle or an earthenware cooking pot. A photographic studio may have a large studio stand or even gantries, so that you can create unique overhead shots. Shooting close up from a low viewpoint can make a small product seem larger than life and even heroic. Due to this, manufacturers of smartphones and other small electrical products often use this technique to great effect. Use shallow depth of field to draw the viewer intimately closer to your product, or stack macro or closeup images to create ultra high definition detail in small products.
Perfect your post production
In product photography, post production certainly matters. All mass produced products will display some variation. Sometimes edges don’t quite align, or colours may be slightly mismatched. Correcting these seemingly minor imperfections will have a much greater impact thank you would imagine.
Transparent casings which show the technical wizardry inside, exploded views which illustrate the complexity behind the creation, and even abstract artworks created by “rubber stamping” iconic images can all create a unique perception of a product. Think outside the box. Remember standard catalogue shots are a dime a dozen. Above all, with every shoot you have a chance to create something unique, something with real impact. Go and do it. Raise your game, so that the rest of us have to!
So go and smash your next product shoot! And finally, if you want any more tips or to discuss your next creative project, the team here at Kinetic would love to see you for a coffee and a natter.