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Lights, Camera, Action: Essential Elements of Professional Product Catalogue Pictures

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For years companies have used catalogs as a way to present and showcase their products. For many companies, catalogs are the primary medium used in the presentation of their products, and in recent years the online catalog has catapulted into the center of consumer shopping. An extremely vital element of catalog merchandising and marketing is product photography, which is granted a fresh life online through photograph manipulation and animations. Although most people will probably not give much consideration to all of the photographic dynamics that are incorporated into the catalog presentation – it should not be underestimated.

The photo in the catalog provides the visual imagery necessary for the consumer to connect with the product. It is an immensely powerful branding mechanism. The apprehension of this important fact makes it imperative for the catalog photography to present your product in a manner that will be appealing to the consumer. There are some basic steps that you can implement that will help improve the photographic dynamic of your catalog presentation.

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No matter what your product may be – food, apparel, or books – there is a way to photograph it to increase its appeal.

Lighting is Key

Most photographers will tell you that proper lighting is a key element in producing a great photograph. The lack of proper lighting can produce a non-professional looking photo – creating a situation in which the product appears inferior.  Be careful of shadows and reflections, as well as effects on the color of the product.

You are looking for the lighting composition that gives the best sense of life to your product. If you have never worked with a particular product, experiment with the lighting to find what works best.

Photo Masking

The background used in photographing products has the potential to provide greater image detail. Stay away from busy or highly detailed backgrounds as they tend to draw attention away from the product. Clear or white backgrounds work great with most products because of their neutrality. Another possibility would be to switch your camera to aperture mode in order to produce greater background depth, this can enhance the overall view of the image while causing the product to standout on the page.

Photo masking is a useful option for creating the best background.  This editing tool allows you to manipulate parts of the photograph, such as the background, to change focus, color, or even to eliminate elements.  Such masking brings the product to the central focus without distractions, even after the photograph is taken.  Experimenting with photo masking helps to create the best product photo possible.

The Right Equipment

Although technology has come a long way and phone cameras are capable of producing some impressive photos, you will want to use professional equipment. This extends beyond the use of a professional grade camera. Quality lighting, staging areas, and software are essential to producing professional photos. One straightforward option is an all-in-one professional equipment and software system that allows you to take high quality photos quickly and easily. An automatic photo masking feature allows this kind of equipment to be particularly time saving. Many business capitalizing on e-commerce photography have effectively used such systems.

When shooting close-ups, it is best to use a macro lens, which is designed to allow you to get a much closer shot than a normal lens.  Using focus stacking, a process of focusing four photographs at different points and then stacking them together, you can create a perfectly focused photograph full of depth.

Composition is Major

Obtaining ideal composition – the manner in which the product is arranged or positioned – is extremely important. You want to grab the consumer’s attention. Using the “rule of thirds principle” will help you create a more balanced shot. Simply divide your image into a total of nine squares of equal proportion. Next, place your product at one of the four points at which lines intersect. Most modern cameras have an LCD setting which will allow you to accomplish this.

Post Editing

The photography is not over after the image has been shot. There is a lot that can be done post-shot. Post shot editing will allow you to enhance some details that could not be addressed during the shoot. According to Picture Correct, there are numerous post editing software programs, such as Photoshop or all-in-one solutions that include the photographing equipment and the needed software, that will allow you to enhance the final image.

These tips should provide a great starting point for you to create some great catalog images, making your product more appealing to readers.

Mathilde Chenel is a marketing photographer. She enjoys blogging about effective presentation and design.

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