15 Creative Product Photography Ideas

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using reflections for photographing products

Product photography is an interesting and lucrative field for any photographer, but it’s also competitive. To be among the best, you’ll need innovative, creative product photography ideas and a few helpful product photography tips. Using our product photography tips will help you get images of products that will capture their features and captivate your audience.

If you’re a product photographer, you want to try to get images of the product that not only highlight its features, you want to do that in a creative way that will capture the consumer’s attention. But, before we talk about the different creative ideas for product photography, let’s start with the basics. 

What is Product Photography?

Simply put, product photography is a branch of commercial photography, which is done to advertise products or services. There are a number of different ways to shoot products, including, among others, on a white background, in lifestyle shots, on a table, in motion, or while being packaged.

Creative Product Photography Ideas

In today’s highly competitive world of product photography, it helps to do something different and innovative. You want to photograph your product in a way that is different from what everyone else is doing.

So, how do you do that? Well, here are 15 product photography ideas that will take any image from ho-hum to wow!

1. One Second Before

one second before photograph of the product.

This innovative idea is to photograph the product one second before something happens, such as it hits the ground or water or just before something hits it. This can be used to illustrate how durable the product is as well as create an eye-catching image.

2. Smoke

the smoke technique in photography.

This is a great technique in product photography. Smoke adds a dramatic, or even mysterious, look to the product photos. It also makes it seem more alluring. This can easily be done with a Photoshop (or other photo editing program) brush.

3. Floating

Floating and hanging product photography.

By hanging products, you create more of a three dimensional perspective to your product photos, and it can be used to add drama to the image as well. It’s easy to do; just use a rope, wire, or line to hang something, and then remove that from the image using Photoshop.

4. Reflections

using reflections for photographing products.

Using a reflective surface for photographing your product can add a three-dimensional perspective to the image as well as a splash of color. You’ll want to experiment with different angles that can really bring out the reflective properties you want to capture.

This technique can help you to capture really dramatic and artistic images with reflections that your audience will love.

5. Product Series

displaying products series and groups together.

Grouping products together is one of those product photography ideas that can create a number of effects. It can make the product appear ‘zoomed in’, or it can allow the intended customers to compare related products.

Potential customers can see the products together, which will help them to understand the size and shape differences as well as how they work together. It can also persuade them to buy the whole package.

6. Dynamic Symmetry

For this technique, you’ll need to use different angles, and you can put the product together with props like leaves or other items that create a nice dynamic symmetrical design in the product photos. Doing so will allow you to capture great details and accentuate the product’s best features. The one thing you need to be aware of, however, is that you have to be careful not to misrepresent the product.

7. Humor

adding humor to your product photos.

If you can use humor effectively, it will go far to capture the customer’s attention. It’s a great way to accentuate the features of your product and relate to your audience, particularly if they’re younger.

You have to be careful that you don’t use anything that would be offensive, but many photographers choose something neutral, like animals or drawings that they place with the product. Using those ideas, you can create funny product photos that everyone will appreciate.

8. Color

creating imaginative product photos by adding colors.

There are many product photography ideas that help create imaginative product photos, but using color to accentuate the product is one of the best. Highlighting the color of the product, and contrasting it with an appropriate background color can make the product appear more fashionable. And, it can help capture your audience’s attention.

It can also make for some stunning product photos. You should always remember that you don’t want to draw attention away from the product, but if you’re using the color of the product itself to catch the viewer’s eye, you can’t go wrong.

9. Imprints

This is a great idea for product photos. Photographers use a variety of materials like sand, clay, snow, or even lipstick to create a product imprint. It’s innovative, and you can highlight certain product features like the logo or even the color. This is a creative idea that yields photos that will definitely grab the customer’s attention.

10. The Human Touch

adding a human touch to your photos.

Here we’re talking about using some element of the human body, like hands or arms in your photos in order to accentuate the product or how it is used. This can give the image a more mysterious element or a more utilitarian element.

For example, you can use this technique to show how the product is used, or you can make it appear as though a hand is coming out of nowhere to grab the product. There are a number of creative ways you can use this idea to produce great product photos.

11. Product Absorption

Product absorption

This is a great way to get incredible product photos. This technique makes it appear as though the product is being absorbed in something that helps to highlight the product. You might, for example, have the product being absorbed by sand or water.

Alternatively, you can use other materials or even designs to make it appear as though the product is being absorbed by the background. You can also make it look like the product is emerging out of the background.

12. Broken Product

Broken product creative photo idea for food images.

This is one of those product photography ideas that work for specific products, and it can evoke interest or provoke pity. It can work well with a certain type of product, like, for example,  potato chips or cookies. The broken crumbs can stimulate the viewer’s appetite, both for food and a great image.

13. Models

highlighting product features through models.

This is a great way to get stunning product photos. Using models can help to highlight specific product features. This is especially true for a product that is worn such as clothing, eyeglasses, or even jewelry. And the model can generate creative ideas for displaying the product.

14. Surrealism

surrealistic image photography.

A surrealistic image is great for billboard or magazine advertisements. These creative product photography ideas can really draw out certain product features. Typically, this kind of image is taken in the studio using special lighting and sometimes, digital drawing techniques.

15. Motion

using motion to create stunning product photos.

In product photography, motion is a great way to create stunning photos. Motion can be effectively used to highlight certain products, like cars, for example. These kinds of photos often invoke youthful or fashionable concepts as they show off the product capabilities. Additionally, motion really makes the image pop!

These 15 creative product photography ideas can help you take your product photography to the next level. But, you might be wondering what it takes to get such photos, what kind of photography equipment you might need.  Let’s look at the basics.

What Equipment and Tools Do You Need for Product Photography?

You want to get innovative, original, and creative images, but you don’t actually need a lot off photography equipment to do that. There are some basic needs, but once you have the most important pieces of photography equipment, you’ll find that a little imagination along with a few good photography products and a few tips will take you a long way. Here are the basics of what you need. 

Camera

While costly systems have great features, it isn’t really necessary for product photography. You can start with any camera that you have including your smartphone. But, a good, inexpensive, and excellent camera for product photography is the Canon PowerShot SX620 Digital Camera. It’s inexpensive ($336), and it produces images with bright, warm colors displaying a great level of saturation. The images also show a great level of product detail.

Lens

The goal of product photography is to showcase a product. A standard lens offers the least amount of image distortion, so you can accurately capture your products. There are many good options, but the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L lens is a great option. It’s lightweight, capable of focusing close up, and captures sharp photos even in low light situations. 

Tripod

For most types of photography, a tripod is a must. In the case of product photography, you’re going to want to set your camera to a very small aperture. That will allow you to have the most depth of field possible for your camera, which gets you close to the product. That will define the area of sharp focus, but because you’re using a smaller aperture (large f/stop number, such as f/8), you’ll need a slower shutter speed to allow more light in. That means you won’t be able to hold the camera steady with your hands. You’ll need a tripod, but luckily they’re not very expensive. There are many available for under $30.

White Sweep

A sweep is a photo studio box with a light. It’s easy to use. You arrange the product and your props in the box, and start shooting. As photography equipment goes, a light box table is not very expensive, and they make it much easier to photograph your product with a white background.

Most also come with different colored backdrops so that you can switch out the white background for a different color as well. It’s a small investment for a product that will make your life much easier.

black and white image of product photographer at work.

White/Black Bounce Cards

Bounce cards are great photography lighting assets. They are light reflectors that you use to direct the light wherever needed. You can make these from foam board in both black and white. The white can be used to brighten up dark areas, and the black foam boards are used to deepen the shadows. You can create exactly the desired light you want by positioning both black and white bounce cards around the product. You can buy foam board at the drugstore or online. It’s inexpensive, and these are great tools that every photographer needs.

Table

You need a good table to set up your product scenes. It should be big enough to hold whatever props you might need to accentuate the products, 24-27 inches should do, and you want to make sure you have a light colored table top. White is best, but if not, a white table cloth should do the job.

Tape

This can come in handy for several reasons. It can help with your sweep, and it can also be used to help secure product props. You can also use clamps to secure various props and the product itself in a sturdier way.

Photo Editing Software

A software for editing photos is one of the most important tool for any kind of photographer. For product photography, you can use it to create certain effects like smoke, and you can use it to remove lines for floating products or change the color saturation, brightness, and contrast. It’s one of the indispensable tools for photographers.

Most photographers prefer Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. They’re the most common software packages for post processing any kind of photograph, and if you’re considering photography as a profession, you’ll be glad you invested in these kinds of products.

13 Essential Product Photography Tips

How do they make products look so good in expensive commercials? With these product photography tips and tricks, you can make products look great on a budget!

Check them out, and let us know which ones you think are most useful as you start out!

1. Distinguish Between Lifestyle and Studio Shots

Lifestyle shots are the ones with external elements that make your product look desirable by association. Studio shots are meant to cleanly capture the product to showcase its attributes of the product. Lifestyle images don’t need to have perfectly legible labels, but studio shots should be focused on details.

photographer taking pictures of  products in a studio.

2. Light it Up

If you don’t have a kit for lighting product shoots, don’t worry, you can build your own setup pretty easily. You’ll need four lighting sources.

Two will be used to light the background (point them from either side of the product at the wall behind) and prevent the product from blending into the background.

The other two are pointed at the product: one from the front and one from above, pointing at the top of the product, toward the wall to eliminate shadows.

3. Watch Out for Hot Spots

If you’re using artificial lighting, make sure to diffuse the light so you don’t have to try and edit out hot spots in post-production. It’s well worth the additional setup!

4. Make it Seamless

Higher-end photography studios have curved walls where the wall morphs into the floor, so the photography doesn’t have a horizon line. With a large roll of white paper, you can fake this effect. Just tape one side of the paper to the wall and one to the floor to create a “ramp” and remove that horizon line!

chair with a white background.

5. Watch Out for Reflections

If the product you are shooting is at all reflective, be sure you’re aware of what will be reflected. Either re-position the item to remove the reflection or plan to remove it in post.

We don’t recommend trying to do too much editing in a post, though, because it may not work the way you hope. On the plus side, you also can use this to your advantage to include a clever ad to your image.

6. Be Conscious of the Background

The focus of the image may not be exactly on the product, but the product shouldn’t fade into the background. If the background or setting is interesting, you may want to shorten your depth of field to make sure you get the interest without the distraction.

photographing cosmetic products featuring a beautiful model.

7. Consider Your Color Story

Is the product intended to be calming and soothing? What kind of props or setting would emphasize that? Think about what the product is intended to do and who it is intended for, and be sure your props, background, and color story all support that messaging.

8. Watch Out for Conflicting Colors

Once you’ve established your color story, be on the lookout for elements that might disrupt it. Think about this on two levels: the messages the colors send and also the harmony of the colors in the shot. Some colors just clash, even if they’re both technically in your color story.

9. It’s Okay to Go with Your Gut!

Start with these tips, and don’t be afraid to try new and different approaches. Once you know the rules, you can start breaking them. And sometimes, the best images are the ones that break the rules.

10. Choose the Right Color Scheme

There are a number of considerations when thinking about appropriate colors to accompany the product. Among the most important tips, however, is that you don’t want to take the attention away from the product. That’s why it’s best to stick with neutral colors. 

photographer taking photos of products.

11. Apply the Rule of Thirds

Imagine there are two horizontal and two vertical lines equally spaced that are dividing up the shot into thirds from right to left and top to bottom. You’ll want to position the product’s most important elements along these lines or where they cross. That creates a great composition for the photograph.

12. Use Different Angles

You have to be careful with the angles because you can distort the product. But you can get some innovative shots by doing things like hanging the product or using props to position it. Then, you can take images from underneath or above the product. You can also use eye-level shots to highlight the best features.

13. Pick the Right Room

The room in which you take your photos is very important. It’s ideal to have a room where you can put your table right next to a window. The window can be a great source of natural light. And, you can vary the location of the table to change the quality and distribution of the light.

If you’re closer to the window, you’ll get a softer light with dark, softer shadows. If you move the table further away from the window, you’ll get a more even light and the shadows will be lighter, but sharper.

Final Thoughts

These simple tips and ideas like adding smoke or the right color for the background can make your product stand out from the rest, and it can help you make a name for yourself in product photography.

By using these creative ideas and tips for shooting your product, combined with using the right camera settings, you can capture images that will help you build your reputation and sell the products you’ve photographed. And, you’ll find that as you use these innovative techniques, it will stimulate your imagination for trying new and creative product photography ideas.

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Catherine Gaither is a professional photographer and bioarchaeologist. She has traveled the world photographing archaeological sites and artifacts, and studying human physical remains. She has written numerous professional publications. She continues to work as a forensic consultant and author.
Catherine Gaither is a professional photographer and bioarchaeologist. She has traveled the world photographing archaeological sites and artifacts, and studying human physical remains. She has written numerous professional publications. She continues to work as a forensic consultant and author.
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  1. Enjoyed all the ideas on creative photography. It’s not just easy to be creative. Only who have a creative mind, could create this kinds of photographs that eye-catching as well as mind blowing. Besides, following some techniques we can also create this kinds of photos that defers ours from others pictures.

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