By Thierry Rossignol - PhotoSoc 20/21 Training Manager
Despite sometimes being seen as a stale form of photography, product photography remains an incredibly creative and artistic way to capture the beauty of our surrounding world.
Here I’ll teach you in 5 steps how you can dive in this genre and push your own skills further.
Okay, the first step is to find the product you want to shoot, this will be your subject. Don’t feel like you absolutely have to go out and buy a new shiny thing for this. Start by shooting the things you already have. The good news is it can literally be anything: a beauty product, a pair of glasses, a water bottle, a watch, I really mean anything!
Once you’ve chosen your subject the next step is to think of the overall mood you think corresponds well to your subject. Let’s take a sports water bottle for instance, it might be a feel of refreshment paired with physical intensity and speed. Or if it’s a bookmark (yes i really did mean any product!) the mood might be centred around a bookworm feel and a dark academia aesthetic.
After this you’ll need to plan out how this mood will look like in practice. The best thing for this is to create a mood-board. To do so just look up photos online that share the same mood as your planned photo. Then write down some of your favourite elements of these shots (specific props, backgrounds, angles,...). This will help you find additional inspiration but of course feel free to add in your own original elements.
Bonus tip: sketch out your ideal shots so that it’s that much easier to compose
The next step is gathering what you need. Thanks to your mood-board and sketch you should have a pretty good idea now of all the props and background(s) that you want in your shot. When it comes to this step, prioritise using things you already have (just like for your subject), don't feel like you need to go out and buy a bunch of new things you might never use again. The more serious you get about product photography the more it’ll make sense to invest in it, but if you’re only just testing the waters for now might as well keep your money.
Now the fun really begins, it’s time to compose your shot! This is probably the most important step so take as long as you need to. Play around with different compositions, different angles, go crazy! The good thing with product photography is that it’s just you so you can do whatever you want. Generally for a good composition you want to place your product in the dead centre or at least a spot that’ll easily and quickly drag your viewer’s attention. Take advantage of leading lines if you can as these are very effective at guiding the viewer’s eye. When it comes to props, their sole purpose is to compliment and highlight the subject, not divert attention from it. The same goes for the background you use.
Example: Let’s take a hypothetical example here. You want to shoot your sports water bottle. We’ve already covered the mood you want to give it above. So to accomplish this you can use props that fit this sports feel such as running shoes, a sports ball, a sports watch, that kind of thing. Additionally you can add some water drops in the foreground and on the bottle to show that feeling of freshness. As a background, why not just go to the closest sports field and shoot there? You can even get some people in the background running or playing football. As long as they’re not in focus this can compliment your subject really nicely. And best of all you didn’t have to go out and buy anything!