Photography marketing

7 common mistakes in product photography (and how to avoid them)

As you become more advanced in photography, you might start thinking about ways to monetize your art. Fortunately, there are several ways to do this. client work is one of the most common initial routes.

Many client projects involve taking photos of products, such as headphones and sneakers. You might think your job is just to point your camera at the object and send the images, but the reality is a little different.

As a product photographer, you will likely make several mistakes when you first start out. We’ll cover seven of the most common mistakes below so you know what to avoid.

1. Not confirming the types of photos your client wants

During your career as a freelance creative, you will almost certainly come across some difficult clients. However, many negative experiences often stem from poor communication. You may think you are the best photographer, but you still need to confirm with the client to find out what they are looking for.

Depending on the business or campaign, your client may want a simple shot with the product alone. But in other cases, they might want a fashion shoot with a model wearing their watch, shirt, or whatever they’re advertising.

Before getting your gear ready and heading to your shoot, always check with the client to make sure you’re on the same page. This way you are more likely to satisfy them.


2. Ignore natural and artificial lighting

Photo of a person holding a ring light

Lighting is the most crucial aspect of photography; you don’t have a picture whatsoever without it. But while many photographers are good at taking natural lighting into account, sometimes we can forget that artificial lighting can have a huge impact on how our images look.

Before taking photos of the product, think about the conditions in which you want to shoot. Is the item more likely to be used indoors or outdoors? Did your client ask for something whimsical, for example, or are they looking for a bright and airy photo?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can consider other lighting accessories you might need. Ring lights are popular among photographers, but you can also use neon lights.

3. Focus on composition but ignore colors

Except for lighting, composition is the most crucial aspect that makes a good photo. You should think about how you can make a product interesting, taking into account concepts such as the rule of thirds. However, many photographers, especially beginners, overlook the importance of colors.

Before photographing the product, study the colors you are going to photograph and think about how they can work together harmoniously. Adobe Color is a useful tool to show you which shades cooperate and don’t cooperate.

You can also edit colors in post-production to increase saturation, hue, etc. As long as you make the images look a bit realistic and meet the needs of your customers, you have a little wiggle room here.

If you successfully use color theories, you can surprise your client with the quality of the images, and they won’t even know why.

4. Ignore the most impressive product features


Familiarizing yourself with the main subject will make your job much easier when embarking on any genre of photography. Before you start capturing the product, you should take some time to learn more about the item and its most notable features.

Think about what sets this product apart from its competition. Does it have cool buttons? Or maybe it’s made of a unique material. Try to capture a series of shots and highlight what makes the product interesting. This way, your photos will stand out and your client will have an easier time marketing your images.

5. Overcomplicating photos

Overcomplicating images is a common problem for many photographers across multiple genres, but it’s especially true for product photography. Adding too much to your image distracts the viewer’s eyes from what they were supposed to be looking for and dilutes the message you wanted to communicate.

When taking photos of products – or anything, for that matter – you should always ask what you don’t want in the image before figuring out what to do. Ideally, you should have one main focal point (two at most).

Keeping your images simple will make it much easier to share the message you’re trying to convey.

6. Not considering where the client will use your photos

photo of a phone displaying an Instagram feed

These days, many businesses need to have an online presence across multiple platforms. In addition to their websites, companies market themselves through display ads and a wide range of social media platforms.

Each marketing channel your client uses or might use in the future will require different image styles and dimensions. For example, a landscape photographed on a company’s website may not look so sharp if they post it to their Instagram account.

Before photographing the product, ask your client where they plan to use the images. At the very least, provide images that will work for these platforms; if you want to go beyond that, film some extras that they can use on new channels in the future.

7. Ignoring Compression

Photo of a 50mm lens in hand

In product photography, you need to choose your lens carefully. The equipment you use can dramatically change the way your photos look, and different lenses will compress your photos in different ways.

The goal you choose is not necessarily good or bad; photographing a model wearing the product will have different requirements than capturing the item alone. An 85mm lens will probably work fine in the first scenario, but maybe not so much for the second.

If you don’t have the equipment you need, you can always find a place to rent it. Alternatively, you can choose from several used photography websites to save some money on your purchase.

There are many things to consider during a product photoshoot

If you want to get paid to take pictures, product photography is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. However, capturing images of customer deals is often trickier than most people realize – and if you don’t deliver, you risk being overlooked by that company for future projects.

With a little planning beforehand, you can ensure that your product photo shoot goes smoothly and successfully. Think about lighting and keep your images simple while focusing on the main features of the product that help it stand out.

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