ONE PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY TIP TO RULE THEM ALL | ONE CLICHÉ THAT NEVER GETS OLD
Product photography is one of the most challenging photographic disciplines. As is the case with many other genres, the creative aspect is essential, however, undeniably product photography is the most technical and detail oriented. Thankfully, that’s where I shine, I’m a bit of a photography geek and am very meticulous by nature. There are many skills I would say a good product photographer needs and today I’ll be covering one of the most important.
IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTES FOR A PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHER
The four most important attributes of a still life photographer are; creativity, adaptability, resourcefulness, and attention to detail. Creativity goes without saying. All photographers require a healthy does of creativity to allow them to produce distinct, unique and interesting work.
Adaptability and resourcefulness go hand in hand. Shoots don’t go to plan, clients change their mind, products present surprising challenges, gear breaks down (rarely but it can happen), studios lack a piece of kit that you “need”, and so on. Adaptability and resourcefulness will come naturally with time and experience but they are key attributes of any professional photographer.
Attention to detail is the skill/attribute I want to focus on today. Still life photographers must have an excellent eye for detail. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve noticed an issue with an image and the client says “wow, I’d never have noticed that!”. Let’s go through a couple scenarios to help you fully appreciate the importance of this.
Firstly, you’re shooting a simple image for the purpose of e-commerce; let’s say a watch on a white background. You’ve got to get through a fair few images in one day, as is usually the case with e-commerce photography, but the images still need to be of a very high quality. After all, this will be the main image a customer will see on a brands website. In addition, you’ve got nowhere to hide; it’s a product on a white background, every mistake will be glaringly obvious. As a result, every element of that watch needs to look good; from the crown, to the strap, to the hands, everything.
E-COMMERCE VS ADVERTISING PHOTOGRAPHY
You may be beginning to understand the level of attention to detail required in still life photography. Our second example takes things to a whole other level. Now we’re talking about advertising. With e-commerce, images are generally going to be seen small and will have relatively small sums of money invested in them. In other words, your client won’t be spending lots of money advertising that image.
With advertising photography, your images could have huge sums of money spent on them; magazines, billboards, online, bus adverts, in store, everywhere and anywhere. Not only that, but they could be blown up to gigantic proportions. I was recently walking past a well-known shop which was being renovated. Over the entire front of the shop was a massive image of a watch, easily 20 feet high. The most minute details of that image were blown up for everyone to see. Any mistake in the photography or retouching would be on show for thousands to see.
With still life photography of that level, it is absolutely necessary to focus on the most minute of details. The texture on the watch face, the diamonds, the metal surrounding the diamonds, the date, the exposure of bright areas. Honestly, it can go on seemingly forever.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR EYE
As a beginner to still life photography, you probably won’t have the same attention to detail as someone more experienced. So how do you attain it? I must admit, I’ve not thought about it until now, but I have a little system in place for checking images. Firstly, I look at the big picture and assess each element individually; composition, lighting, colour, contrast, the image as a whole. Once I’m pleased with these elements, I begin to assess the details of a scene; the watch face, strap, background elements. Finally, I move onto the micro elements; the hands, the surfaces, and so on.
It’s the same with most things, if you look at a problem, without breaking it up into pieces, it can be overwhelming. Looking at an image and trying to find errors can be oddly difficult. Look systematically through your images and I guarantee you’ll find a lot that’s wrong. Sorry. Thankfully, by employing a more systematic, analytical approach, we can ensure that every element of an image receives our attention and scrutiny.
NOT EVERY PHOTO IS FOR ADVERTISING
There is certainly a case to be made for taking this too far. You could debate every element of an image on set and wind up wasting far too much time. Attention to detail is important but you must apply the appropriate amount to each job. For example, if you’re doing some simple still life photography for e-commerce purposes, it would be impractical to spend hours and hours debating, photographing and retouching each image. Some clients will want the ultimate in quality/attention to be given to every single image but the majority of the time a balance has to be struck between time and budget. Always keep that in mind.
I created this image using only one light so I could demonstrate how powerful compositing is as a technique. I created two tutorials to go along with this, part II was released yesterday; link in my bio. #stilllife #productphotography #commercialphotographer #advertisingphotography #watch #ferre #stilllifephotographer #newpost #rggspotlight #profoto #famousbtsmag #behindthescenes #bts #watchphotography #watchphotographer
ONE PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY TIP TO RULE THEM ALL – SUMMARY
This hasn’t really been the one product photography tip I had intended, but I like the title. Attention to detail is vital, is it the most important thing to consider on a shoot? Probably not. I could definitely make a strong argument for creativity. That said, I feel attention to detail in product photography is vital to success, especially when working at the highest levels. You may be able to get away with letting some details slide when you’re working with a small budget and a tight time frame. On the other hand, if your producing commercial advertising content of the highest-calibre, then that’s where this extreme attention detail becomes absolutely necessary.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this, make sure you let me know in the comments below and tell me what else you’d like to learn about. Check out my YouTube channel where you’ll find lots educational content from me, find it here.