Photos that sell

Following on from Sunday’s post on interiors, and also my recent travails in Food photography I wanted to touch briefly on product photography today. It’s something I’ll come back to in more detail at a later date, this is just to get you started;

Product photography is an area of photography that some people love and some people hate. If you enjoy paying attention to details and are a perfectionist with your work then this might be an avenue for you – particularly if you are happy working by yourself rather than with other people.


Product photography is critical to people who sell things because a visual image is often the first thing a potential customer sees, and this can make the difference between choosing to read on in more detail or skipping on to another product.


Because these shots are often used on posters, billboards and the like, attention to detail is critical. Every part of the object must be well lit and well exposed, there should be no distracting reflections or hot spots, everything in the frame must be there for a reason. You also need to think (or be briefed) about whether text is going to be added to your shot, if so you need to leave enough space. Whether the shot be used in landscape or portrait orientation is another crucial factor. Do you want to shoot the product in context – i.e. a saw being used in a workshop, or is the client looking for a simple clean background (often white) to feature the product in catalogue.

Or have you got free reign to get properly creative?  This was my response to a challenge I was set on the Flickr Group Get Pushed a few years ago;

Beer O clock

But it’s not just businesses that benefit hugely from decent products. How often have you looked on eBay for something and click on a photo only to find a blurry, dark horrible picture. Perhaps one that’s rotated 90 degrees too?  Doesn’t that put you off?  This is an absolutely genuine photography book for sale on eBay a couple of years ago that I had to get a screen grab of;

Prod 1

Actually – as an aside – deliberately looking for items with a poor picture is often a way of getting a bargain on eBay precisely because so many other potential bidders will skip over the image.

Here are a few more shots that could be used as product photos. This was shot in a small pub in Winchester – the light from the window was fantastic.


Yes, another beer shot! Spent a while trying to get a nice background, in the end I covered a baking tray in tin foil which gave a nice specular reflective backing.


Photographing glass is perhaps the most difficult aspect of product photography. If you’re interested in trying it, I highly recommend Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting as a reference. It looks a little expensive in the context of current eBay and Amazon cheap books but is really worth it.

Here is a link to an interview with Luke Ayers – Professional Product Photographer on the excellent Phoblographer web site.

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