product photography | part one

My Spring/Summer Project list has several whoppers on it. Among them is a pressing need for product photography. Jenny GG Photography was gracious enough to shoot my initial pictures, but as the business grows with additional designs and press inquiries so does my need for more photos.
Since I can ask a pal for only so many favors, I started researching how I might be able to create professional looking photos with my own point-and-shoot digital camera and a limited budget. To lend some structure to my research, and to help others get a jump start on this kind of project, I decided to write a three part series on product photography which will follow me as I learn, execute, learn some more and execute again.

As this is a journey, I can only hope for a good ending. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

part one | styling your photos

There are two types of product photos - alone or with props. These are also referred to as the hero shot and the styled shot respectively. A hero shot is clinical. What you see is what you get. A styled shot puts the product in context.

It can be a challenge figuring out how to style your products and rightfully so because it is a profession all on its own - Art Direction.

After reading this resource I started searching for inspiration by flipping through catalogs, clicking through on-line shops and reading blogs. Not the least of these was the vast photo database that is Flickr.

I created a list of hero shots that I wanted to take and brainstormed ideas for styled shots. Then I whipped out my camera to take a few concept photos to make sure my ideas were feasible or would look good. Here are a few test shots. (If you'd like to compare these with my past photos, you can visit my website and online boutique.)

After this exercise, I have walked away with several objectives:
1. Focus on my hero shots to showcase my portfolio of Trading Cards
2. Ensure this approach is easy enough to recreate numerous times
3. Group similar themed cards together for a few photos
4. Select a handful of Trading Cards and style each several different ways

My next step is to take all of these pictures. Part two of this series will discuss creating an in-home "studio" and will showcase my favorite product photos.


Allesen said...

Hi Chris,

Interesting article. It'll make me look at advertising differently going forward. Did you have any take aways about working with props?

Chris Guillot said...

Thanks, Allesen. I'm sure I will have an ah-ha moment with more valuable insights in the upcoming weeks but in the meantime I do have a few practical words of advice.

1. Try to avoid paying full price for props. Instead search your house, dollar stores, consignment shops and garage sales. You could also ask a friend to borrow that special something that has caught your eye.

2. Play with proportion. For this product, a similarly sized object can prop the cards up (literally) while a large object can serve as a back drop.