product advertising merchandise photography photo techniques, close-up photography, still life, advertising, setups
all photos and content copyright Paul Smyres 1999-2003
Contents  all photos, text, style and content copyright Paul Smyres, 1999-2003.  All rights reserved.

Living Being Media
Photographing merchandise
This page is part of the Living Pictures online photo magazine
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Virtually all tangible products require a good picture in order to sell online or through the mail.
The idea is to display a product's best features to their best advantage. 
However, y
ou must create a genuine representation or customers  may be very disappointed.  
An enormous amount of money and time goes into photographing merchandise.
Follow this series of pages to learn how it's done.  Scroll down the pages
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See our other pages on macro photography    Still life    Photo setup   Ebay Photography
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How to photograph merchandise
click on the samples for a larger view    -----    scroll down to see more

Before photographing a product, you should spend time thinking about how you want to present it. 
What kind of emotional response do you want to get from a prospective buyer?
Beyond that, you need to consider the following:

Item's size, texture, and surface material.
Reflective surfaces must be carefully lit.
Do you need to capture small details?
Will any other items be in the photo, such as related products or props ?
What color background is appropriate?


The atmosphere surrounding a product is often very important.
In many cases, it's what triggers a sale.
That's why a lot of effort is put into creating a "set", or even expensive location shoots.
Roll the mouse over the photo for more tips.

Cognac bottles.   Nice environmental shot.

very simple.   Would also look great with teapot and saucer

has a slight glow, intentionally.  looks new and exciting.

not quite enough light.  A light background would look better.

"Catolog shots"

 in many cases, all you need is a simple photo.  The product, alone,
with good lighting.   Bounced lighting and a neutral background.
soft background and wood creates a warm effect a lighter background would be better here. A contrasting background highlights the product nice detail.  A white background would also be good.
Close ups 

sometimes details are very important.  In that case you usually need a lens extender
or bellows for extreme close-ups.    Soft lighting, sometimes at a sharp, or low angle, is best.
nice details jewelry -- depth of field is tricky at this close range label detail, high contrast close-up.  Light from the side an unusual angle and cropping gets attention
Grouping, and associated products  makes the image stronger.
commplementary items give a product image integrity items on a shelf  -- sometimes it's necessary to show a wide selection of similar items.

there's a whole science to it and a package often sells the item.
However, a good photograph is necessary to sell the "package".
slight shadowing as opposed to flat and bright light brings an emotional element to bear

Photo note-cards
for sale

product photography
Communicating value

expensive items must be carefully photographed to show their true worth.
Often it's best to have a high contrast ratio.   Some customers have poor eyesight,
or they look at the advertisement in poor lighting conditions.

texture is enhanced by side lighting.  Natural light is often the best.

genuine silk pillow - shows the sheen.   Good descriptions must accompany the photo.

perfumes, about packaging and an emotional appeal

carefully placed light makes this clock glow


Large items

if an item is large, or part of a set, it's better to have 2 or more photos.
Some should display details.


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