Updated: Aug 18, 2020
When I work with product-based brands, there are six essential categories of photos I recommend! Having photos from each category not only gives your brand variety, but it also creates a full 360° picture of what it means to be a part of your brand because we know a brand is so much more than just it’s products. And of course, the variety makes it easier for you when it comes to time pick content for different marketing materials like the website, social media, print materials, signage, etc.
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These are photos of the product styled with additional related props. For example, a great way to visually show what your product is made of is with flavor/scent profiles. Often these are done with stylish yet simple backgrounds or textured tabletops to add some character without being distracting. Also, note that flatlays aren’t always done looking down, they can be for different angles! This style is perfect for highlighting the product by surrounding it with related elements.
The photo above shows the product (lemon scones) as the hero while creating a cooking vibe with related baking ingredients and utensils. Visually putting these elements together helps your customer to draw conclusions on your product as well as create a strong connection to your brand.
Now to add a human touch to your brand! Showing the product in use (usually by using a model) gives customers a better understanding of the product and makes your brand more relatable. People relate to other people. These photos can vary from just a single hand being in the photo to a whole model with the product small in their hands. The point is to marry the two and give your customers an idea of what it’s like to use your product. Including a model can also help you to show off who your target audience is. If your product is geared more toward females, then use female models to get that point across.
The photo above shows the ideal target audience using the product (soap bar) in action. In the previous category, the product was the hero, but here, the model is. You can still see the product, but it’s more about the whole scene rather than just the product.
How do you want your customer to feel? This is such an important question to consider because although your product is terrific, people buy products that make them feel something. What is it that your product is providing them? How does your product make their lives better? Those are the kind of emotions you want to show in your brand photography. The product doesn’t have to be in every shot! Sometimes, it’s just about the mood your brand creates.
The photo above shows a model living life and having fun on an adventure. The shoot was for a supplements company, and although the product isn’t in the shot, just by looking at the photo, you think “she’s having a blast and feels great because she took her supplements today!’ You get the idea!
Enough with the models, we want to see you! Transparency is so important these days, and people love to see the creators and the behind-the-scenes of the brands they purchase from. Again this adds another layer into your relationship. Especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs, you are your business, and your customers want to get to know you! Show them how you make the product they know and love. Show them your smiling face and tell them how you got started in this business. Your story and personality are just as important!
The photo above is from a virtual photoshoot series during COVID, and although that’s not the traditional style of photography, you’ll notice that it’s a behind-the-scenes shoot! The owner of the cookie shop is going through all the steps to make her delicious treats.
I would never recommend doing a photoshoot just to get background photos, not necessary. However, during a regular photoshoot, it’s so easy to snap a few fun and on-brand background photos. “Background photos” probably isn’t a technical term, but what I mean is a set of simple photos, usually with no product or model. Some examples could be close-ups of different textures or wide-open landscape shots. These are perfect for website backgrounds and accent images. You can easily place text and logos over them while still adding some color and texture. Sometimes you can get away with using stock photos for these, but that’s not as cool!
The photo above is just a close-up of a plant, but it works great for a yoga instructor’s website who has a natural tone color scheme.
If you’ve ever shopped online, you’ve seen these kinds of photos everywhere. They are your basic, studio, white background photos, usually with just the product. For things like clothing and accessories, you may see a model as well. You can have some fun with this category, but it’s mainly about showing exactly what the product is. Shows the customers exactly what they are going to get when they order online.
The photo above is a sample of an e-commerce photo for sandals. There are also photos of that same shoe without the model to again show different angles with no distractions to get a clear picture of the product.
There you have it, the six essential categories of brand photography you need to have. Having a handful of photos from each category gives you so much freedom and flexibility when creating marketing materials. It also adds a little more spice and variety to your brand. Not every photo should just be a close-up of the product, nor should you completely exclude the product from your photos. It’s all about balance and giving your customers a 360° picture of what it means to be a part of your brand! You love every part of your brand, show your customers why they should too.
Next time you are checking out another company’s social pages or website, take note of the kind of photos they use, and you’ll start to recognize these categories out in the wild!
Have questions or would like to brainstorm some ideas for your brand? Send me an email at email@example.com, and I’d love to help!