Like all photographic disciplines, product photography is a blend of skill, experience, creativity and having an eye for the finished image even in the first stages of planning a shot list.
At Splento, we thought it would be helpful to take a look at a range of different product photo styles and staging to inspire, assist and encourage you when you come to organise your next product photoshoot.
Here, we’ve taken just one product – sweets – as a focus for this study so that the emphasis is on the photography and not on a range of multiple products, as this more often reflects the real-world challenges of product photography. Many businesses manufacture or market a limited range of products, and if all the photographs look identical, then the images can fail to grab customer attention after they have viewed the first dozen or so.
You can follow this link for more understanding of how quality product photographs make a difference.
So here are some great examples of product photography for sweets (we admit – we did allow biscuits as well) which we know you’ll enjoy looking through and hope you find some useful suggestions.
1. The appeal of context
Rather than just the product itself – some sweets can be pictured in scenes. It immediately connects with your customer and they start to imagine the idea of ‘relaxing with a coffee and doughnut’, instead of seeing the product alone without context.
2. Demonstrate the process
Fresh ingredients look…fresh! Almost like a before and after shot, a quick display of what goes into a sweet really does shout the ‘fresh’ message more than anything else. Look at this photo for just a few moments and you can start to smell the ginger!
3. Come closer
You don’t always need the complete picture. Experiment with close-ups for an attractive, bold statement. This is simply a portion of chocolate – yet the image is so good, it doesn’t need any dressing up – and invites a closer look. You can almost taste this one!
4. Whichever way you slice it
When there is not so much to work with, slicing or cutting to present a different view can give you more options. Rather than showing this as a whole, by playing with the dimension and angles and showing the inside layers, this petit-four is suddenly transformed into a mini piece of art.
5. Focus on the focus
When you have limited items to photograph and perhaps not much going on, try playing with distance and experiment with the depth of field in the photo. Keep the focus only on the main object and the second (here, a cup) becomes a great background. Much more creative and makes a simple object pop!
Don’t be afraid to add some extra interest to the photo. Here, the subject is clearly the chocolate, but the raspberries add a dash of colour and definitely increase the interest. There’s more going on here and it all helps to keep the eye involved – that makes for an appealing photo and makes your product more appealing too.
7. Add some height
Height is not the first feature that comes to mind with sweets – but it does add appeal. As with many of these ideas, it’s about keeping the eye busy and challenging what is expected. If it engages the eye and the brain, then the photo is a success; it holds attention. And the longer you look, the more you start to imagine the flavours and textures.
8. Use flourish
When you are photographing a product, stand back and take a good look first. Does it need anything extra to lift it, visually? A box of macarons suddenly becomes a gift suggestion, and the photo gains dimension and interest!
9. Try a flatlay
All flatlay photos usually need two other additions to work well – a background and some accessories. As long as you have those, they can work with many different product presentations. They show something a little unexpected and hint at a more going on outside of the image.
10. Action shots
For some products, action can transform a photo. Sometimes a creativity challenge, as is this case. An image of someone eating sweets is not such an attractive proposition. Solution? Throw them in the air! Simple, but effective.
11. The odd one (stands) out
If your product is small (as these are) and you want to include several, then one staging rule is to place them in odd numbers, not even. An even number suggests completeness, and the attention of the eye moves on. Having an odd number of items in a photo keeps the brain engaged longer as it will be looking for the ‘missing’ item. Repeated tests demonstrate that odd numbers in images hold attention far longer for this simple reason.
12. Highlight a single colour
You don’t always need to display every colour option in a group shot. Depending on your product, staging multiple items of one colour together can make a great impact visually. Here, the pastel shades of these macarons work beautifully with the out-of-focus background complementing the colour of the filling.
13. Highlight all the colours
To completely contradict the last photo, here we display macarons with a wide range of colours. This is a great example that demonstrates how flexible you can be with your product photography. However, the colours have been chosen with care and work together; don’t just throw random colours into your images; colour clashing won’t help you.
14. Tell a story
Photos can tell stories – even photos of sweets! This is not a gingerbread man (or even a candy stick) – it’s a story about Christmas and all the feelings that the season evokes. This image is about the setting as much as it is about the product.
15. Make a mess
Have some fun and make a mess! This image is so much more interesting than a photo of a single gummy bear. These types of shot can work very well with small products and this is a great alternative to the close-up.
16. Unexpected staging
When staging a photo, think outside the box a little. Even if this is not how you usually see them, how much more interesting is presentation like this? Although sweets are eaten, this is a product photograph; remember that you are aiming for visual appeal above all else. Keep asking yourself what works best for the eye as you try out different presentations.
17. Reference pop culture
If it’s appropriate to your product, set it in a context that references pop culture or any current trend. This may limit the length of time that you can use the photo, but some references stay around for years. This photo of two jellybeans gives a subtle nod to The Matrix films and will appeal to fans, but the image works anyway, regardless of whether the viewer understands the reference or not.
18. Show the packaging
If your product comes in attractive packaging, then be sure to show this; it increases customer confidence and adds weight to the perception of your product as a quality item. Here are the macarons again, this time in a box. Packaging shots can also show information if there is prominent text (or a company logo) or, as in this case, an idea of quantity.
19. Take a New Perspective
Stand back and take a fresh look at your goods – these sweets have been sorted into colours (rainbow shades) and the product photo taken from an unusual perspective. Most of the sweets are out of focus, but that doesn’t matter, as the green ones give you all the visual information you need to identify the product, and the rest of the image clearly shows the colour range.
20. Use spaced repetition
Spaced repetition is another visually satisfying approach, as it introduces an element of symmetry into the photo. This example of sweets is the complete opposite to the ‘make a mess’ gummy bear photo above.
21. Handy shots
This is a different kind of action shot to the one we saw earlier. Having a hand holding your product shows the scale and possible use of it. For sweets (and many food shots) the ‘reaching hand’ works even better – it implies that the food is irresistible and so good that people simply can’t leave them alone!
22. Alternate context
Marshmallows are for eating, right? Yes – but they can also be toasted first or dropped into a coffee or hot chocolate! Many of your goods have ‘other uses’ and a great idea is to showcase one or two of these in your product photos. They serve as suggestions to your customers who will see your product as even more desirable than they did before. If you encourage previous customers to send you photos of your product ‘in use’ then you can use those to market as well (with appropriate permissions, of course). Some companies have webpages dedicated to customer snaps – they are an amazing review tool.
23. Have fun!
Have some fun with your photography. How about some strutting cola bottles out for a walk to perk up a product picture? While you are in a creative mood, and if it’s appropriate for your product, take a few fun photographs.
Remember – we did our best to (mostly) restrict ourselves to sweets – but these shooting tips are all adaptable!
And the real advantage is that with many of them you can mix and match – using two or three of them in one image. Have a look back through all these photos now and see how many you can spot that use multiple styles!
Not all these product photography techniques will work with all products, of course. Choose wisely. However, most will work for most products, albeit with a little adaptation.
For more great tips on product photography, read the article 6 different styles of product photography.
Did you know that with correct planning, arranging a photoshoot is still possible, even during the ongoing lockdown?
To take the headache out of product photography, and to get the best results for your blog, book a professional with experience and with a great product portfolio already established.
Splento has experienced professionals who specialise in product photography, for a fixed hourly rate – just £99 – which includes retouching and editing.