A niche can be described as a strength. Creatively, strengths stem from the views, interests and personality of the person behind the art. In order to discover your niche in product photography, we can start by taking a deeper look at YOU behind the lens.
Photo via the Craftsy class Commercial Photography: Taking Product Photos That Sell
Seeking to understand the things you enjoy shooting and the aspects of photography that really inspire you can help guide you to the type of product you should pursue, including your product photography niche. Identifying things you are drawn to visually will help you to identify your interests and, therefore, your strengths.
How to find your niche in the wide-world of product photography.
Tip #1: Find the elements in photographs you are drawn to
Ask yourself these questions to help pinpoint what inspires you:
- What is it that makes you smile about a picture when you are editing it?
- What do you find most interesting in a picture?
- What do you notice first when you look at the images of others?
Tip #2: Focus closely on what you specifically like about composition
Do you tend to shoot a certain composition? If so, what is it about that composition that you like?
- Crisp colors
- Soft light
- Shallow depth of field
And the list could go on forever. Maybe you already have a style, and you know exactly what you like and don’t like. I challenge you to write down the elements you are drawn to because there may be more use and variety of products that can be applied to your inspirations (and something you thrive in) than you’d think.
Tip #3: Find products that highlight what you’re drawn to.
This is where you can really get creative. In all product photography, you are going to be faced with the challenges of proportion, depth of field and lighting. But, depending on the product, goal, company and audience, the amount and style of those elements can vary widely.
For example, before reading this article you might have said “I would not enjoy department footwear photography. Shoes do not inspire me.” However, say the elements that compel you most are varying angles, precision and proportion, and you pay special attention to details like this because you are drawn to them. You could be the perfect eye to capture those department store shoes accurately. Plus, you'll do it in a non-distracting way that allows the customers to focus on the design and structure of the product they’re looking at. You can call that a niche! And get called back again too.
Example of just two different angles needed to show the product in it’s full detail
Tip #4: Know your audience.
The goal in product photography is to make your product look desirable to the market audience. Who the audience is and how to make the product look it’s best will vary based on the company and the product – and therefore shooting style will vary as well!
Once you have identified what elements in photographs you are drawn to and what kind of product has that character quality, you can start to look even deeper into style and how that plays such a huge part in product photography.
Tip #5: Branding is more important in product photography than one great product shot.
The overall look of a company speaks a lot higher than each individual product shot. If you are hired to add to a brand that has already been developed, it is really important for you to notice the style and elements that the previous photographer has implemented and mimic them.
It takes true talent, and speaks to your professionalism, when you can identify and copy those elements, even though you might have gone a different direction personally had you been given the choice. However, if your photography and creative eye are part of the brand developing and shaping, you have a huge role in branding not only each individual product but the company as a whole. Two keys to organizing a vision for a brand: Knowing your audience (again), and knowing your product.
Tip #6: Always highlight the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.
Creating a quality product shot is done by highlighting the strengths of the product and minimizing attention to the weakness.
For example, say you are shooting a beaded necklace for a jewelry company and the snap detail in the back makes the product look cheaper than the intricate beaded design in the front. A quality image that causes the product to look it’s BEST and look most desirable to it’s customers, in this equation, could be to add a little depth of field and angle to the shot of the necklace that highlights the front detail and blurs out and minimizes the back detail.
Depending on the company and brand, that is a completely valid problem solving approach to product photography that sells.
Example of using shallow depth of field to highlight the detail strengths and minimize the detail weaknesses.
Another way to highlight the strengths of a product in food photography is focusing on an a glamours, photogenic object. My favorite example of this is emphasizing the texture of melted cheese. What is really going to push the viewer to feel through a picture of a cheeseburger? Warm, melting cheese!
Through understanding the marking in product photography and how to translate the product message visually, you can truly find your niche and what you are really inspired by! Just like any good image, there’s more to product photography than meets the eye.
Once you find your niche, you're ready to learn the business and techniques of product photography that will send your career soaring. Check out the Craftsy class Commercial Photography: Taking Photos That Sell to discover the essential know-how for a stellar portfolio that showcases your talent and wins clients.