The problem with product photography is that it’s a bit like riding a unicycle. It looks easy, until you find that you can’t even get as far as falling off because you can’t get on in the first place. In fact product photography is even worse than this, because many people think that not only is it easy, they’re actually good at it. There’s no physical falling off involved which would otherwise tell you that your skills fall fairly short of the ideal, except that of course there is a falling off involved – a falling off of the number of sales you’re likely to get.
Photographing products for sale seems easy. After all, all that’s needed is the product, and something to photograph it with. Digital cameras are now not only highly sophisticated, but pretty affordable too. This gives people the misunderstanding that the process of advertising photography is easy, but in effect it’s actually about as effective as trying to ride a unicycle with stabilisers, and still falling off.
For example, let’s take a cold bottle of beer. What could be easier to photograph than a nice cold beer? You have the beer in the fridge, you take it out, and you start photographing it. Of course, you’ll need some pretty good lighting set up otherwise the whole thing will look flat, dim and dull. But then the moment you point the bright lights at the cold beer you find that the beer starts warming up.
You imagine that it would look good if you could recreate the sort of look professional advertising photographers achieve, with ice trickling down the side of the beer. You get some ice cubes, mash them up, and drip them down the side of the beer. Within seconds, they’re all melted, and puddle around the bottom of the bottle, leaving you with the chance to occasionally take one photograph if you’re lucky. Of course, what you won’t know is that real product photographers don’t actually use ice. They use something called ice powder, which is a gelatine based substance which, when mixed with water, creates a clear, slushy sort of mixture which looks like ice, but doesn’t melt. It also sticks very well to surfaces, making it ideal for photographing anything that’s supposed to look cold, like your beer bottles, or a cold can of drink.
There are so many other tricks and tips to product photography, which effectively means that almost nothing you see in professional product images is real. But if you don’t realise this, and you don’t realise what the techniques are that are used by professional photographers then you’ll always end up with images that are sub standard, and about as impressive as a unicycle with stabilisers, or a tightrope that’s sitting on the floor.
Of course, the reason why many people choose to take their own photographs is because many of the leading advertising photography studios charge very high prices. But just because some of the more prominent studios make it clear that they’re happy to price small businesses out of the equation, that doesn’t mean to say that all studios feel the same way. In fact there are many highly professional advertising photography studios which offer professional grade photographs which incorporate all of the tricks of the trade needed to create an image that sells, yet for a price that’s incredibly competitive .
In fact prices under 10 are perfectly possible to find, meaning that you could have a professional product photograph that’s likely to grab attention for all the right reasons, and help promote your product successfully, for about the same price as a small round of drinks. Now that’s something worth cracking open a beer for.