15 Product Photography Ideas to Stand Out From the Competition

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The old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is true, but it’s also the only information shoppers get when looking at your product, so it needs to be good.

Don’t rely on boring shots and forget about creativity! If you want people talking (and buying) listen up: we have some creative ideas that will get consumers’ attention in an instant.

Product photography ideas to stand out include using models, creating scenes, manipulating the photo, using lightboxes, and using shadows in creative ways. Also try playing around with various angles or add props to enhance your product’s appeal. 

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most creative and effective methods you can utilize in your next product photography shoot to keep ahead of the competition. Never again will you struggle to capture consumers attention!

What Is Product Photography?

Product photography is an industry of its own, with the main goal being to make a product seem appealing and alluring.

However there are many tricks that can be employed in order to take photos which will appeal more specifically or broadly. There’s also not just one way of taking these photographs- different techniques produce vastly differing results depending on what you’re looking for out of them!

Product photography focuses mainly on making products look aesthetically pleasing enough so as to prompt consumers purchase it quickly; this isn’t always easy considering how distinct each demographic may find certain aspects of your photo – some people might prefer bright colors while others like dark tones etcetera.

The best thing about product photography? It’s endless creativity opportunities: from special effects such as multiple exposures, to props and backgrounds – the possibilities are endless.

Why Is Product Photography Important?

When you buy a product online, there’s always that fear of getting something different than pictured. In fact, 1 in 5 products bought are returned because the item looked then it did on its website page.

There is some worry when shopping for items through various websites as to whether or not they will be what was promised by the seller and if one would even receive their purchase at all – these fears may also stem from no guarantee which site provides quality goods versus those with cheaply made merchandise.

Online shopping has made buying anything from clothing to electronics easier and faster but with this convenience comes a challenge: accurately representing products so they look as good or better in reality versus how they do on their website picture.

Keeping track of customer expectations while trying to boost sales can be tricky for companies who want everyone happy–as well as those customers themselves!

In the past, consumers could physically inspect products and judge them for themselves. But nowadays, they’re bombarded with ads everywhere they look that make it difficult to stand out quickly without risking being considered ineffective or worse—duped.

Offline customers can still see a product before paying for it in person; but online shoppers are at the mercy of companies who want their advertising dollars more than anything else–so if you’re attractive but not accurate (think clickbait), then you run the risk of hurting sales among your faithful followers as well as potential new ones because people become annoyed when things don’t match up to what is advertised so vividly.

Setting accurate expectations with photos is crucial for product photography to succeed as an advertising method, but accuracy doesn’t matter if it’s boring. In today’s world, a glance is all it takes for a potential customer to form a first impression, and how a photo stands out compared to others determines whether that impression is good or bad.

In the end, great product photography can be what makes or breaks online sales, so why settle for good when you can make your photos great?

15 Creative Product Photography Ideas To Stand Out

Photo by Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash

It’s time for action. You know the drill – we have to make our customers want what they can’t refuse, while managing their expectations and not letting them get buyer’s remorse! To do this successfully there are some things you should keep in mind: 

Use Macro Shots

Macro shots are a special ‘extreme close-up’ type of shot used to evoke the viewer’s senses. No doubt you’ve seen these types of shots used to advertise food and evoke hunger, but they’re also great for tapping into deeply held memories.

In fact, close-up shots also evoke a sense of ownership for your product as well.

For example, close shots of musical instruments can tap into nostalgia held by those who have played or currently play instruments. 

This works for just about anything because it shows unique aspects of the product that may not be easily visible in full-size photos. Macro shots are a great tool to initially capture attention, but they’re not a good way to accurately represent products. 

Macro shots are a very specific way to connect with a viewer, but they don’t give a sense of scale. These shots are best used alongside full-sized pictures of products because people also need lots of factual information about products to make the best possible informed decisions.

Show Models Having A Good Time

Models are an awesome way to show customers how products look in relation to people. They also allow people to visualize how they would look with the product. This is most popular for clothing and fashion accessories but can be very effective for nearly any product.

People want to imagine themselves with the product, and how products are used. Accurately and attractively showing models with the product lets them place themselves into their mental image of the picture.

Fashion shows gorgeous models with happy smiles, which subconsciously tells you that you would be happy too, if only you buy that product. Makeup uses this technique often to great success.

After all, what are products but items that people use?

Make a Scene With Props

Scenes are a great way to sell an experience rather than just a product. People want to know what tangible benefits products will provide and how they will change their lives, and scenes help evoke that in a single frame.

Done effectively, a scene can sell an experience or lifestyle without a single word.

Don’t show a desk, show what that desk could be – a tranquil, beautiful home office. Don’t take a picture of a beer, show people having fun while drinking that beer.

A party scene would be effective for selling alcoholic beverages, but it takes a lot of planning and personnel, which may be unfeasible to put together for a single shot.

If that’s not viable, props and settings are the next best thing. For instance, beaches make great scenes, even without models. Product photos on beaches give a sense of relaxation, fun, and even adventure by using props like a parasol, a beach ball, or a sandcastle.  

Combined with proper lighting and experimentation with angles, props can tell a story just as effectively as photos with people might.

For some products, it may even be more appropriate to photograph them without people depending on the exact type of mood you’re trying to convey.

Use Smoke and Fog To Build Atmosphere

Smoke and fog are simple tools that can instantly give an air of mystery to a product, and they can be easily added at a low cost by using Atmosphere in a Can (Amazon) or a fog machine.

Smoke can be hard to get just right from actual combustion sources, but it can also be easily added in digital photography software or by using a nicotine-free Electronic Vape. Fog is easier to control with a fog machine and gives a different type of effect.

Dense, swirling clouds of fog can be used in a series of photos to unveil products, making it seem as though you’re uncovering them from a mysterious and faraway place. On the other end, faint smoke or fog can set a mood of anticipation, something film producers know very well.

In concert with other techniques, smoke and fog can be used to create specific atmospheres that help customers associate products with certain feelings – anticipation, mystery, and more.

Colored Backgrounds Influence Mood

Research has shown that colors can influence and even change moods. Using colored backgrounds is a quick and easy way to help people create positive associations with a product. 

Blue, for example, is psychologically calming and puts people at ease. A photo of your product posed against a blue background subconsciously signals to the customer that the product will add relaxation to their lives – something many people are looking for.

If you’re designing something new like a product with limited branding opportunities then it might be wise to think about using color as your marketing tool!

Using colored backgrounds will help build positive associations by stimulating these emotional responses which could lead potential buyers down the road towards purchasing your product just because they liked how certain colors made them feel before hand.

Take Advantage of Shadows

Shadows can be used naturally or artificially to create depth and highlight certain aspects of a product. Sunlight creates a different and warmer shadow effect compared to fluorescent lighting, and props can completely change the effect of any given picture. 

Experiment with different types of lighting and positions to find what works best to highlight the unique visual attributes of your product.

Manipulate the Photo

Thanks to technological advances, photo manipulation can be used with products to cleverly present products’ core offerings. For example, if your product interfaces with technology, find a way to state that without words in the photo. 

Editing can be a hard skill set to develop, but it’s well worth the potential benefits you can reap. Experienced photo editors can completely change photos in ways that highlight your product and what it can offer.

If in doubt or strapped for time, there are lots of skilled photo editors that can be hired on a freelance basis.

Use Product Variations

If your product has multiple variants, don’t only use one – use them all together to make your images appear more grand.

Doing so helps highlight that each variant offers different benefits and that the customer should be encouraged to try them all, or just find the perfect one for them. 

Colors can be used with each product to give it a different ‘feel,’ which in turn, gives a wider lens of attraction. Not everyone likes the same colors evenly, but using multiple colors together can create unique effects not possible with single colors.

Play With Angles

By default, people have preferences in how to take pictures. We like using eye level because it’s more in line with our physical perspective and shows us how we would see the product in real life. 

However, one of the ways that makes a photo great is by showing your subject (product) from an angle that people aren’t use to seeing.

Experimenting with different types of angles gives pictures different viewing experiences. For instance, top-down photos of products on flat surfaces can be a nice-looking way to force customers to pay attention to the product rather than distracting backgrounds that can plague other angles.

Knowing how to best take advantage of a product’s aesthetic qualities in concert with camera angles is crucial to crafting useful product photos, and will definitely take your game to the next level.

Grab Attention With ‘Action’ Photos

Have you ever seen those pictures of items falling moments before or as they break? How about photos of liquids spilling or being poured?

They can be very tricky to stage and get just right, but the result is well worth it. ‘Action’ photos are a creative way of snatching a viewer’s attention and getting them subconsciously interesting in wanting to see what happens.

The effect is flashy, but not necessarily useful in representing a product, so these shouldn’t be the only pictures customers have to look at.

As with other attention-grabbing techniques, these photos should be alongside other unique photos that set accurate expectations for potential buyers.

Use Reflections

Using mirrors or highly reflective surfaces such as plexiglass can be an easy way to make shots look dynamic and elegant without cluttering up the photo with superfluous objects.

To make the most of reflective surfaces, use very strong lighting and experiment to find the optimal angles for your purposes.

A word of caution is that using lots of mirrors together can make viewers confused if not done in an artful manner. It can be very easy to focus on the mirrors and lose sight of what they’re supposed to provide to the product’s image.

White/Black Backgrounds Provide Consistency

There’s a reason white backgrounds are the standard for many product photos: they provide a consistent background and keep the photo free of distractions, providing a clean and eye-appealing look at the product. 

A white background that tastefully utilizes shadows makes a product appear as if it is floating off the surface and gives the same effect as the ‘Action’ shot.

A white background can make products look elegant and high-end by making them stand out against an empty space or being able to take advantage of how bright they are when there isn’t much color nearby competing for attention while still allowing their true colors to shine through without distractions from backgrounds on either side vying for our eyes’ focus.

Alternatively, a product can be placed against a black backdrop to make it stand out even more.

This is also great for products that have vibrant colors and want them to really pop on an otherwise uncluttered background. The downside of this technique is the difficulty in getting proper lighting without distorting or washing out some parts of the product.

It may not be the flashiest trick, but you can rarely go wrong with having at least one photo of your product against a white background.

Imprints

Creating imprints with materials like sand can be a creative and playful way to show off unique aspects of your product, including unique features and iconic logos.

Displayed aside the product itself, imprints provide a creative contrast that tells a visual story. Other products such as mugs can be professionally ordered with pre-existing imprints of logos and other pictures as needed.

Broken Products

Photos of broken objects, whether completely or partially broken, is an offbeat way to elicit interest and even pity for products – particularly your competitors.

In fact, having your product surrounded by other, broken, objects implies that it is better than the others and casts it in a “heroic” light.

This technique isn’t favored by all photographers, but it can be suitable for some products. This is very popular when it comes to alcohol products, and it’s frequently combined with the ‘right before’ trick to great effect.

Make Your Product Float

For products that you want to have a little more visual interest, you can use hooks or wire to make them float within the scene to give it the illusion of action.

In some other cases where small objects, like jewelry, aren’t able to stand on their own, you can use anti-toppling wax (Amazon) to prop them up.

Keep in mind, when manipulating the product in this way, it may be necessary to add a disclaimer stating the product does not include all the items in the photo or perform as shown, for example.

Other Product Photography Tips

You’ve got to be creative with product photography in order for your business to stand out. Sure, you can take these ideas and run with them but you likely will have limited success if you miss the details.

Here are 4 more product photography tips that are considered best practices:

Provide Scale Perspective

Sometimes it can be hard to tell exactly how large a product is when looking at a picture, but using common, everyday objects that people are very familiar with as guides can help customers more easily imagine the size and shape of products.

For example, small objects can be measured against a penny or ruler. You can get creative with larger objects, but using household objects anyone can instantly see and then know the products’ size in relation is key.

Color Correct for Accurate Representation

For a variety of reasons – primarily lighting – photos may render products off-color. If viewers order a product and it turns out to be a different color than advertised in photos, they’ll be more apt to return it and not make more purchases.

An easy way to correct colors and more accurately reflect the product’s physical appearance is to use a tool like the X-Rite Color Passport, which lets you create custom color profiles for Photoshop/Lightroom based on the different lighting conditions you’ll encounter.

Show Multiple Viewpoints

Some products have atypical or unique shapes, and taking multiple photos with different viewpoints can be a great way to help consumers visualize how the actual product would look like. Showing the products in the hands of a person can be another useful way for people to imagine odd shapes.

Know and Appeal to Your Audience

Who is this product for? If you can answer that, you have more tools at your disposal to better advertise it. 

You would be surprised at how many of our clients have no idea who they are trying to market to. One of the most common answers to this questions in our questionnaire is “Everyone,” which is not an effective strategy.

For example, a product marketed for millennial women will require a different appeal than a product designed for retirement-aged men. 

Always consider what evocative imagery, props, angles, and lighting adds to your photo to better appeal to your core demographic.

Final Thoughts

While it can be overwhelming to compete with thousands of other established brands, utilizing the techniques outlined in this post are sure to help you notice an immediate difference in sales. 

Being versatile and willing to better appeal to your audience will shine through in your photos, and therefore sales.

You can’t go wrong with versatility and taking the time to learn what your audience wants!

Benjamin

Benjamin

Hi, I'm Benjamin, Digital Media Strategist and product photographer for Skyline FBA.I have been involved in content creation for over 10 years and love helping people develop strategies to grow their business. My wife and I are Product Photographers that are experienced in Amazon FBA, eCommerce, Lifestyle, and Advertising photography.

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