Visual Content Marketing

Your guide to planning a successful product photography shoot

Post by
Chrizelle Monique Sta. Cruz
Your guide to planning a successful product photography shoot

Eye-catching product imagery is vital for every retail brand, especially in ecommerce where it is often the first impression a prospective buyer will have.

Product images serve a variety of purposes such as being placed on brand websites, populating product listings on ecommerce sites, used for digital marketing and be shared on social media profiles.

Great product imagery can convey to your customers how the product looks and feels, demonstrate use, and add meaningful lifestyle context. Communicating the positive attributes of your product through visual formats helps empower your audience to feel confident in their purchasing decisions.

However, to reap the benefits of the selling power of product photography you need proper planning and briefing of your product shoot to ensure its success.

With our experience in the visual content space, we'll give you a step-by-step guide on how to plan a successful product photography shoot for your brand and improve the outcome of your marketing efforts.

Start by developing a clear concept

Concepts are rough drafts of a “big idea” for your product photos. Like any other great idea, developing a concept for product photography is important. Think about how you want customers to perceive your brand and what you'd like to communicate with them about your products.

Asking yourself these questions can help you when creating concepts:

Take the time to understand your brand and brainstorm what you want your audience to think or feel about it. When you’ve already come up with a concept, you can start planning and researching the elements you want to include in your final product photo.

Styled product photography with lifestyle context
In-situ photography showing how a product is used

Gather visual references

Creating a mood board or sourcing reference imagery is the best way to keep visual notes about the colour scheme, mood, and theme that you'd like to achieve. It can also help you determine the appropriate style and aesthetic that will appeal to your audience.

Creating a mood board gives you an efficient way to come up with a vision and define a product shoot concept without losing sight of the bigger picture, ensuring a smooth photoshoot process.

Using Pinterest as a research tool for photoshoot moodboards

Luckily finding references for your brand photoshoot is now easier than ever! We've used our expertise in visual content to curate a selection of inspirational images that you can use for your next creative brief. Check out our guide to our carefully curated Pinterest boards to see if there's one there that will help you get started.

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Visual elements to consider

There are many different components to consider within each visual and it's important to be able to define how you want each characteristic to look. Taking the time to identify your preference for each element gives your photographer a clear visual direction for your desired aesthetic.

Lighting

Consider the overall light and mood in an image and also the shadows.

An overall image can be light or dark, as can shadows. Shadows can also have hard clearly defined edges or be soft and understated. Do you want high key lighting for your image to achieve a bright scene? Or do you want to add drama with backlighting?

Bright, backlit photo
Darker toned, moodier image

Colours

Articulate which types of colours you would like, or not like, to see.

This ranges from individual colour preferences such as pops of blue, or pink, to schemes such as brights or pastels. Do you prefer bold colours or a neutral or subdued palette? Your colour selection helps incorporate your branding and maintain a consistent aesthetic in your images.

Pops of colour contrasting on a dark background
Bright block colour backdrop with vibrant props

Composition

Define the placement of objects or elements within the frame.

Are you looking for a natural arrangement of objects or a geometric pattern? Would you like to draw attention to your product using negative space or have the frame filled?

Being able to specify your visual preferences in detail can give your photographer a clearer picture of your expected outcome and reduce the risk of potential reshoots.

Full frame composition with product as the hero
Composition with negative space

Crafting the perfect brief

It is important that you curate the right information to effectively communicate what you are trying to achieve with your brand photoshoot. We've read and written literally thousands of creative briefs so we know a thing or two about how to construct it in a way that will be easy for your photographer to understand. Here are our top tips.

Be concise about what you are trying to achieve

Too much detail can often have an adverse effect and means items may get overlooked. Describe your visual goals in a simple and concise format presenting the most important points. Then you can organise them into logical topics such as:

Clearly define your brand do's and don'ts

Your brand guidelines are the overarching details of how you want to see your product depicted in the photos. Consider it the 'must know' information and only include the most important information. This is for details such as your specific branding colours, and competitors colours to avoid. Mention things like age restrictions, how to use your item correctly and if there are any specific items you do or don't want to see included.

Source great reference imagery

You can describe exactly what you want to see in words but the clearest way to communicate what you would like to see is visual. Providing a mood board is the most effective way to ensure the photographer can understand the aesthetic you are trying to achieve.

You don't have to find references that show the exact outcome you are after, after all, you want to create something unique for your brand! We recommend sourcing a selection of images that outline your expectations for each element, for example, one image showing your preferred composition type and another to depict the lighting you'd like to achieve.

Don't feel like you have to be ultra-specific

Sometimes the best results come from allowing your creative partners a little freedom to interpret the brief. Communicate your ideas but make sure you don't discount the photographer's experience and artistic vision. Achieving the best photos is often a collaborative process, ensure your creative partner understands what the ideal outcome is for your brand and be open to their ideas and suggestions as well.

Allow your photographers to experiment with props they have on hand at the time
Enabling creative expression can result in some unique and interesting outputs for your brand

Final thoughts

Photography is the most effective way to capture your customers' attention and influence their purchasing decisions. When the goal is to communicate and connect with customers a picture is absolutely worth a thousand words.

Achieving quality product images stems from constructing a concise plan and crafting the perfect brief. Effective communication of your brand vision and a collaborative partnership with your photographer will improve the outcome of each shoot.

Having quality, context-rich images will inspire your consumers, engage them in making decisions, and make them feel confident to purchase. Most of all, great product imagery allows you to share your brand's vision and communicate your purpose, earning you more loyal customers who support your brand.

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