by Warren Lutz – Contributing Writer
With all the advancements in photo technology in recent years, one might think that getting high-quality product shots would be a breeze. After all, your product just has to sit there, right? And yet, remarkably, product photo shoots often take hours. Why?
The short answer is that there’s a huge difference between taking a photo and making a photo.
To explain what we mean, let’s take a look at the elements that go into a successful product shoot:
Since your products will be shot in extreme close-up, they need to look absolutely perfect. Whatever you sell—whether it’s TVs, bikes or dishware, or computer hardware – may not need makeup but will definitely need to be super, super clean. At the studio, great care is taken to ensure the product is free of any imperfections, such as a scratches or fingerprints. Shirts, for example, may need an hour or more of ironing in order to look just right.
Long before the shoot, however, time must also be spent in consultation with the photographer so that he or she can create a plan. The photographer will take into account all the different items and possible combinations of items that will be needed, along with stuff that no one but the photographer is likely to consider—like an iron for that shirt!
The better the tools, the better the product. Any good professional photography studio will have made capital investments in all the latest and best tools, everything from lights, tripods, backdrops, tables, lighting meters, white balance cards, fans, extension cords, battery packs, and, of course, cameras, lenses, remote shutter cords and data cards.
During the shoot, many adjustments will be made to these tools to achieve the best effect. For example, under certain conditions, it may be best to use very high lighting, in which case the photographer will need ladders—and either he or an assistant will be climbing those ladders during the shoot to make lighting changes.
Simply put, lighting is everything. Most photography studios are equipped with multiple lights of difference sizes and purposes. Umbrella lights and spotlights are often used in combination with diffusion filters and lighting gels, in addition to flash and strobe lights.
Lights may need to be positioned and repositioned especially if your product has any chrome or other high-gloss or reflective surfaces. Regardless of the type f product, lighting is constantly measured and adjusted during the shoot to create the perfect composition and “temperature” of the shot.
It’s not over when the shutter clicks. Editing is probably the most critical step in product photography, where the raw image that was captured in the absolute best conditions is refined even further to create a product image so lifelike and appealing, your customers will almost believe that they can reach into their computer screen and touch it.
The proper editing of product photos requires the expertise of trained technicians who have logged thousands of hours using software and other tools to fine tune an image to perfection.
While this sounds like an incredibly complicated, lengthy and expensive process, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. A great marketing vendor with project managers that are experienced in managing photo projects are adept at keeping budgets and deadlines within a client’s parameters while ensuring every care is taken to produce amazing results.
If you’re still thinking of shooting images yourself, keep in mind that the purpose of a product photo is to give the potential customer the next best thing to examining the product in person. Imagine your prospect comparing your product to a competitor’s. All things being equal, the better photo is more likely to win the sale.
Companies that are serious about their products are also serious about how they look. If you are too, a great shot is usually worth the wait.