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Photography 102: Fundamentals of Photo Composition

By on June 16, 2015 in Business Tips with 0 Comments

In our previous post, Photography 101, we discussed the various options available to use as the camera of choice for your product photography. A good photograph increases the perceived value of the product for your customer, and can be the key decision factor for making a purchase.

Many sellers are hiring professional photographers to shoot their products. However, there are a number of small sellers and companies that try to save costs by taking the photos themselves. This post is for the benefit of novice photographers who are struggling to produce high-quality product images from their homes and offices.

Photography is an art as well as a science. While a good camera and lens makes a large difference, the photographs could still turn out flawed if the photographer is using the wrong technique or does not know how to use the various camera features. But before we get to the features, it is important to ensure that all external elements necessary for the shoot are considered and concentrated upon. For today, we will discuss basic tips to improve overall photo composition.

Lighting: It is important to use soft,gentle and even lighting. Natural light works wonderfully. You can either place the photography set-up near a large window which allows ample amount of light to enter, or you can take your products and shoot it outdoors. It is best to shoot early morning or in the evenings. Never shoot in bright, glaring light or under direct sunlight since such light causes rough shadows and harsh effects.

Background:Try to ensure that the product is placed in an environment which is aligned with what you are selling, but not taking away the focus. For example,if you are selling a book, it is possible to place the book near a pen, against a gentle soft background. However, to place it on a bed, or in the midst of clothes, takes away the focus from the product. Make the frame elements appealing by only allowing the product, and artistic accessories to be a part of the photograph.(Below is an image which shows how bad backgrounds can affect your product representation. Notice how the the earrings are set against a patterned background. It takes away the focus from the earrings and makes the whole photograph look messy and distorted.)

earringsCluttered Background

Depth:Depth of field refers to the range of distance which appears relatively sharp. For product photography, it is best to focus your depth to field on the product itself by having a narrow depth of field. A narrow depth of field would only include sharp images of your focus, which is the product, whereas a wide depth of field provides equal focus to all elements and is better to use for photographing landscapes, skylines,etc.(Below is an image taken with a narrow depth of field.  Notice how the focus is solely on the bird, giving a pleasing visual appeal. To achieve narrow depth on field,one can use large aperture.More about apertures in the following posts)

Old parrotNarrow Field of Depth

Balance: There are various techniques and rules to ensure that the photograph is well balanced and visually appealing. Try not to make the image tilted, or heavy on one side.Follow rules such as the rule of third, or the golden ratio (lots of information available online! Just visit Google) to put in place a well balanced photograph.

Thus, composition is the art of arranging the various elements involved in the photograph to ensure maximum visual appeal and focus on the subject. Attaining a good composition for a product photograph would consist of various factors such as what elements are maintained or added to the background,where the product is placed, what angle the photograph is taken from, etc. It’s all about the perfect balance, which is learned by practice.


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