Excellent product photography is crucial for any brand wanting to promote its goods in a positive light. From e-commerce shots to images of artwork or Instagram content, your products need to put their best sides on display if they’re going to capture the attention of capricious consumers.
But even the most stunning product photos will lack impact without the emotive qualities of good storytelling. Storytelling is an ancient practice that draws on universal experiences and emotions to impart a message—and that’s exactly what great product photography should do.
All of the most successful products in the world have been marketed, with storytelling at the helm.
Want to do the same with your product photography?
Learn more about the relationship between product photography and storytelling, as well as some expert-approved tips on how to effectively tell a story through an image.
How Does Storytelling Intertwine with Product and Brand Photography?
Historically, the concept of storytelling has been more closely linked to traditional fine art practices than marketing strategies. But once people realized that storytelling can come in many different shapes and forms, it started becoming an indispensable tool for brands seeking to impart meaning to their products.
Storytelling in branding doesn’t equate to fairytales and fables. It’s more about using emotion, memory, and aspiration to connect with your consumer.
When you use these attributes to enhance the desirability of a product, it becomes a lot more powerful. For example, if you were selling bakeware, you could incorporate the universal storyline of baking cookies with family during the holidays, or making a birthday cake for your first child.
Linking products to positive memories or experiences is a powerful way to connect with consumers and showcase the full potential of what you’re trying to sell.
When it comes to photography, you have a visual tool with which to aid these associations in a tangible and immersive way. By using the right lighting, angles, props, and editing programs, you can weave an entire storyline with a single image.
How to Tell a Story with Product Photography
Photographers have been using cameras to capture special moments in time since they were first invented in 1839. But the equipment we have access to today is vastly more sophisticated, allowing photographers to create even more unique and impactful images.
Product photography is all about showing off a product in a positive light and making it look as desirable as possible. These tips can help you incorporate the emotions of storytelling into product shots to create more compelling, brand-adjacent images.
1. Understand the brand personality, purpose, and tone
Before you can start curating a plan for your product shoots, make sure to get a full, comprehensive brief on what the brand is trying to achieve.
Understanding the overarching purpose and tone of a brand is key to driving a storyline behind products. Once you know what emotions and experiences the brand is trying to draw on, you can have a better grasp of what direction to take the shoot in.
2. Steer clear of repetition
It’s good to have variety in a product shoot. Each product can get captured from a variety of different angles to showcase the full extent of its desirability and usefulness. Plus, it makes items more sellable.
Repetition is both visually and conceptually dull and may discourage consumers from taking an interest. That said, be wary of too much variety. A little bit of consistency can also help. Striking the balance between these two extremes is best.
3. Hook viewers in with the first image
Consumers’ attention spans are shrinking all the time, and that can make it hard to connect with them at a moment’s glance. But you’ll have a much higher chance of grabbing their attention with a strong, unique product image that stands apart from the crowd.
While it’s important to offer a selection of different angles for each product, the first one should always be the strongest, most impactful one. Make it unmissable.
4. Shoot lots of photos, select options carefully
When it comes to product photography, more is more. Instead of calling it a day after a few dozen shots, take as many as possible during your available time frame. It might seem excessive, but you’ll be grateful for the wide variety of options to choose from.
Once you have a fully stocked library of images to browse through, you can choose to edit only the best shots in the batch. This ensures a much higher likelihood of compelling, high-quality product images that suit the current trends.
5. Always keep the mood in mind
The mood is very important for photography, especially when it comes to product shoots. From the other end of a screen, consumers may struggle to make a connection with items that appear too cold or sterile. Remember to utilize lighting and composition to their full potential.
For example, if you’re selling sports products, use lighting that feels fresh and invigorating. Try to fabricate the environment or experience of using the product through the tools you have available to you. Color, lighting, and aspect ratio can drastically alter the look and feel of an image.
6. Invest in high-quality editing software
Great editing software is essential for producing high-quality images. Not only will the right software mean you get to fix up any blemishes or lighting mistakes post-shoot, but it can also allow you to enhance the storytelling aspect of your products.
There are some atmospheric elements you can only add in post-production, such as saturation or shadow contrast. These small adjustments can have a major impact on the product shoot outcome.
Let Your Photographs Tell a Story
Photography is an amazing creative medium that can be used in a variety of different ways. Product and branding photography may not be as glamorous as fine-art photography. However, professional product photography is a rewarding career, and it’s a skill you can use to promote products you’re genuinely passionate about.
Learning how to use storytelling as a tool for improved product photography is essential for anyone operating in this field. With these tips, anyone can create beautiful and compelling product shots.