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Product Photography Types

by Arianne Foulks

March 2, 2017

I was delighted to be invited to be a guest branding pro for the Brick House Branding course. Lela’s students are a pack of total smarties, and I loved their questions for me. I wanted to share what we talked about regarding product photography types. The question was:

“I currently have pics with a white background, no lifestyle pics. I go back and forth with this a lot. Some websites have just the product with a white background, and others have lifestyle-type pics. I have the option of showing more than one product pic, so I can make the primary white and others lifestyle. Which do you think is best? I also think about places like Pinterest – if I could pin lifestyle product pics, I think I might attract more attention. Thank you!”

This isn’t a case where one or the other is the best choice. Having both is the best of both worlds, because the two types of photographs accomplish different things. These two types of product photos will aid in your marketing efforts in distinct ways, as well. If you can get both for each of your products, that’s ideal.

What is lifestyle product photography for?

Your lifestyle photos (these are ones that are styled: in a home, on a model, with props) are the ones that help your potential customer imagine having your product in her life. The blanket looks so cozy thrown just so over a couch next to a book and a cup of tea. The jewelry looks so dainty and sweet on your model’s ears. You can almost smell the body scrub when it’s styled with the rosemary sprig and fresh cut lemon.

These types of photos fall under the lifestyle photography category:

  • Tabletop photography – photos of items that fit on a table, with or without lightbox setup
  • Flatlay photography – similar to tabletop, but the photo is taken directly from above
  • Hero shot photography – styled shots of your product to show how it works and let the shopper imagine it in their life
  • Model photography – shots with people; great for demonstrating products that can be worn or showing the size or use of a product

Your lifestyle photos are perfect for Pinterest and other social media platforms, and will look stunning on the cover of (and throughout!) your catalogs and lookbooks.

What is white background photography for?

Your white background photos, while not as evocative, help people understand. They can see all the details, and the natural color. They aren’t distracted by other elements in the frame, and they get a clear picture of your product. You can take these photos from all angles and sides of your product.

If you don’t have any white background photography, you’ll be missing out on features, such as gift guides, where bloggers want to be able to fit your photos together with others in a collage, or magazine editors want to show just the product on white.

Hiring a product photographer

Photography is one of those things that seems simpler than it is. I’m reminded of that every time I pick up my phone and try to take a bright, interesting photo for Instagram. If you’re not already a skilled photographer, let me beg you to outsource this extremely important task. Amateur photos are like a ball and chain for your business—you can head towards where you’re going, but the path is going to be a long, hard struggle.

Your product photography is a key piece of your marketing strategy. It’s not secret that professional photography helps you sell more and makes your business look professional. When you hire a professional photographer, you end up with photos that can be used throughout the life of your business.

I have two great recommendations for your product photography today!

Hire a lifestyle product photographer

For lifestyle shots, consider Jen on the Aeolidia team. She has an amazing eye for design, is a talented prop stylist, and we’re consistently wowed by her work. Here are some of my favorite shots she’s done for our clients:

MAFU styled product photography © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia.
MAFU styled product photography © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia.
Handcrafted HoneyBee, product photography hero shot
Handcrafted HoneyBee product photography hero shot © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia
Luxury bath and body logo and packaging photography © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia
Luxury bath and body logo and packaging photography © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia
Product Photography Types; here is an example of model photography for Cushy Cove.
Cushy Cove model photography © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia
Living Well Spending Less hero photography © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia
Living Well Spending Less hero photography © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

See Jen’s Aeolidia portfolio here.

Hire us for lifestyle photos

To hire Jen for hero shots, model shots, and styled lifestyle shots, contact us.

Hire a white background product photographer

For your white background photos, we’ve begun recommending Products On White photography and Soona. We met POW through Stacia Guzzo of Handcrafted HoneyBee, who hired them to do all the white background shots on her new Aeolidia-designed site (she only has glowing feedback, and aren’t they gorgeous) and other clients of ours have worked with Soona:

product photography on a white background
product photography on a white background
product photography on a white background
product photography on a white background

Hire Products On White

To hire Products On White photography, follow my referral link to their site.

Now, sell, sell, sell, with your beautiful new product photos!

Do you have any product photography questions or comments? Please share in the comments below!

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