Commercial product shoot, bags and coats pt2
Following on from part 1.
The photographer should never forget that product images, are about making the items look good and presentable to potential customers. They are to show customers what they want to see and create interest that leads to sales.
Lets say a customer walks into a shop (in this example a bag or garment shop) they would first get an overall feeling from the shop. With products they would feel the material, look at all sides and at the lining, they may try it on, swing it, all the time evaluating the product physically and emotionally.
Online e-commerce with regards to products doesn’t have this type of physical connection. As such we have to show images in such a way as to create trust and confidence for the customer.. Showing them the views and details they would want to see in a good, attractive and compelling way.
The rules of first impression remain and need to be planned with the client regarding their images.
The importance of good-looking product images is only going to gain in importance as the levels of overall presentations online continue to increase. Photographers need to always keep this in mind while also avoiding the trap of misrepresenting while doing this process (over processing, incorrect color tones etc).
FINAL LOOK Planning
In the initial conversation with your client the discussion of promotional images should have been raised. Which products to use in a promotional campaign, the desired end look required. Do they want to use a model, what about images showing the items in use, on location? All these areas, including final crop factors, image negative space; composites, text overlays, media type (slider/banner/print/feature) etc should be discussed and clear.
the client may not know
Sometimes the client doesn’t really know what they want in regards to there promotional images.
Smaller companies may not have designers or marketing staff etc. As a commercial photographer, in circumstances like this I would give advice and show example images and different styles. Show them current trends; and what you the photographer think would work with their specific product style etc.
Be aware that small and especially new companies might be a bit overwhelmed with the shear amount of areas they have to cover and think about while building their business. (Patience, guidance and understanding should be shown by the photographer in this area).
Once the above information has been gained the photographer can start to plan the shots in the most efficient and economical way.
Lighting the products
Lighting is a hard one to describe (this subject could easily take up a number of blogs). Most of you will know it depends on the product being shot and the wants of the client with regard to above mentioned product presentation. From what the client would like, the photographer will start thinking about, soft light, hard light, on-white shots, promotional shots, gels, action, interaction, models, location/studio shots etc to create what the clients wants.
Don’t expect the client to know or want to know what you need to do in creating the look they want. They are hiring you to make what they want happen. Don’t bog your client down with too much detail here.
Extra considerations pre-shoot
I forgot to mention in part one. One of the most useful pieces of equipment when dealing with fabrics of any kind are steamers.
I use a hand steamer for small items like canvas bags to remove wrinkles, and a larger steamer for clothing.
While not all fabrics need this extra treatment it is still one of the most used items I have in my studio. I would recommend a high wattage model, the speed and pressure of the steam in important.
Post-production for product images
This blog is not about the basics of product post-production but rather to highlight special considerations you may need to think about while working this type of image.
Vertical and horizontal alignment
What we don’t want to do is to make an item like a canvas bag look perfect. But we do want it to look in proportion and balanced. The main way I achieve this is with the Adaptive wide-angle filter found in Photoshop. General dimensions, leather straps, buckles and handles are corrected to achieve a good balance but not artificial look.
“Tip” Holding down the “shift” key while drawing out the alignment lines allows for true vertical and horizontal alignment.
I also at times, carefully use the Liquefy tool. Care is needed with this tool as over use distorts the weave on fabrics, esp heavy weave like canvas. Generally I only use it on minor specific corrections not global.
Distortion can be very apparent if used incorrectly.
Better results depending on what you want to do and the specific product might be achieved by other methods like perspective warp tool.
After a bit of experience working these product images you will learn which tools to use. Many times i use a combination of all 3 methods. This depends on the level of the image quality needed as decided by the client. Many product images may not need this extra treatment, this is primarily for garments and bags.
Finishing the images
Another area that the photographer has to think about is final image conversion. Some clients may not understand the process or importance of converting an image for web.
Without going into too much detail, clients should be informed about this. Image size is important here, as most of the time the processed images will want to be loaded directly onto the client’s site on delivery.
Standard on-white images they are often a square crop. You just need the size as specified by the clients website to process the conversion and deliver.
Promotional images also require this treatment if going online. They also would want to have the sizes needed for each intended use online. Examples of this would be Banner or slider crops, feature crop, page title crops etc. The clients website should have this size information for the different areas visible.
With promotional images I usually load them onto an online “private” proofing page that is password protected.
This page is only available to the client and allows for them to view their images and to bring up any changes that might be needed. Once the amendments are done the images are delivered to the client using a company to client delivery system.
Make sure you (the photographer) have detailed the copyright and licensing with the client. Gathered all relevant information and bulk attach all within the image meta data.
I also supply a copy of any model release if models were used to the client, but keep the original. This is important in commercial photography. Model releases are needed for commercial usage, protecting the client, photographer and the model.
Hopefully you found this short blog of interest and wish you good business.
Pt 1 of Commercial bags / Coat product shooting can be found here;