Product Photography 101 for Marketing Directors

Planning for a product photography shoot may seem fairly obvious: Select the objects to be photographed. Hire a professional photographer to take the photos. Use in ad campaigns. It seems rather straightforward and easy.

As a result, because it ‘seems’ so easy, a lack of planning is the typical modis operandi and results in dull, uninspiring photos. To capitalize on the investment of time and money you’ll put into a product photo shoot, however, consider the following questions before scheduling your shoot.

Who needs to be included?

Many times, you may be so focused on your company’s products being showcased that you miss the opportunity for capturing unique and compelling images. Particularly with complex machinery or equipment, photos can avoid being boring and uninspired by including experts in the planning stages of the shoot.

Enlisting the advice of your product experts (think of your product managers or people who use your product everyday) during the planning stages or during the shoot itself may provide insight into the correct usage or special features of the product, resulting in informative and engaging photos.

Another way to use the experts or power users is to feature them in the product shoot to add a bit of humanity and depth to the product story. Consider the product inventor, sales representatives, or avid users.

Shiny Metallic Product Shots

Steels and Parts

What props will be needed?

Are there additional props that will help showcase your product? Ensure that they are available during the photo shoot to prevent frustration and delays on the day of the shoot. Arrange for delivery and scheduling of ‘live’ props such as animals or individuals in advance. Collect any props and transport them to the photo shoot prior to the shoot.




Where will the photos be used?

Knowing the intended usage of the photos will assist your photographer in planning the shoot. Will the photos be used for a website, or a catalog? Printed ad slicks? Are you developing an annual report or trade show handout?

Each type of photo has its own set of requirements and best-practices that can affect the shoot. Discuss where the photos will be showcased with your photographer during the photo shoot planning session.

When is the product available?

Are there limitations to when the items can be photographed? Does the photo shoot need to be scheduled after hours to accommodate employees or a manufacturing cycle with an assembly line? Can the products be transported to our studio for the shoot? Arranging for a clean environment on-location or scheduling the shoot in-studio requires pre-planning.

Why are you taking the photos?

Particularly with product shots, there are two main photo categories: functional and inspirational. The use of a storyboard may help define the purpose of each shot, and provide guidance for the style and tone of the images.

Functional shoots demonstrate what a product is designed to do, while inspirational shoots give the viewer insight into what they can do with (or because of) the product. Defining the purpose of the shoot ahead of time through the use of storyboards may help keep the shoot focused and profitable.


How long is a product shoot?

Plan on scheduling an entire day for the product shoot. This will allow your photography team enough time to shoot your products with a variety of angles, lighting and props to maximize your images. Even if your product shoot doesn’t include live models, the shoot will most likely take longer than you expect. Plan accordingly and allot a full day to the shoot.

Product shoots is a vital part of your company’s marketing. A professional photographer can give you the assistance you need to craft visually interesting and compelling images.

Product photography professionals

We’ve shot hundreds of products and have it down to a science. Contact Donna Santos Studio Photo + Video for your product photography needs and to discuss what the possibilities are to showcase your products in the best light.