How to find product photography ideas, collect your favorite photos in a visual source binder and analyze those images to understand the looks you love and develop a distinctive photo style for your own brand.
Developing a distinct style that you use consistently through all of your product photography allows you to create a cohesive set of high-quality images designed for your target audience.
When you establish a defined style, it will be easier to:
As you experiment and explore product photography ideas, you'll start to see what works and what doesn't work for your product and your brand.
But that process can take a lot of time.
To help you develop your photography style and skills faster, we'll look at:
I recently finished a product photography course. For one of the assignments my teacher asked everyone in the class to create a visual source binder. It was an immensely useful project.
A visual source binder is a collection of product photography ideas. It's a great way to develop your own style.
It can take any form you like. It can be an actual physical binder, or a secret Pinterest board. Use whatever system works best for you.
Visual source binders aren't just for product photography. You could collect other types of photos if you were trying to develop your style in a different photography niche. For our purposes, we're going to stick with product photography.
Creating a visual source binder is simple, and I really enjoyed the process. Over a few weeks:
Over time, an impression of what works and what doesn't will start to emerge. You'll get a sense of the look you want to represent your brand whether you need photos for your online store or social media promos.
You can find a huge range of product photography styles, from complex setups using models in outdoor action shots, to simple photos taken with a light box product photography setup.
As a beginner photographer, you should focus on less complex arrangements to set yourself up for success.
You might enjoy looking at some images by professional product photographers who use more advanced techniques. They can give you plenty of creative ideas and show you what is possible. But save yourself a lot of frustration, and don't try to emulate these photos if you're a beginner.
Luckily, photos using simple setups are perfectly suited to craft photography.
If you check out enough images of the product you sell, you'll start to see patterns emerge. You'll get ideas about the types of photos, arrangements, and different ways of styling props to show your product.
For example, if you make handmade soap and you look at a lot of product photos of handmade soap, you'll notice a lot of photos:
You won't find a lot of photos showing wet soap with bubbles. Photographing something as elusive and reflective as bubbles is a more advanced skill which, thankfully, you won't have to master!
Seek out product photos from companies that have an aesthetic similar to the style you might like to use to represent your own brand. As you collect and study their images, you'll consider how they achieve the look and how you could interpret that look for your own product.
Imagine, again, you're looking for product photography ideas for your handmade soap. You like the use of fresh ingredients and the composition in the image shown above. But maybe the saturated blue and green color scheme doesn't work for your brand. You want a more neutral look.
You don't need to limit yourself to handmade soap photos for inspiration. You can seek out examples elsewhere, like in the photo of handmade tableware below.
Here's where I've had good success finding inspiring DIY product photography ideas.
Etsy is a great starting point for handmade product photography ideas. Most of the images here are taken by the maker (not a professional photographer) using a simple home product photography setup a beginner could reproduce.
Start by browsing the site in your own product's category, but have a look at other types of products for photo inspiration as well.
As you collect images for your visual source binder, you'll begin to see that handmade product photography has a certain aesthetic. Etsy is a great place to get a sense of that aesthetic.
You'll find lots of creative product photography ideas on Instagram. They won't all be handmade items, but they can still provide plenty of inspiration.
To get you started, here are a few hashtags to search:
As you type any of these hashtags into Instagram's search bar, you'll get more suggestions. Some of the suggested searches can help you find more good product photography ideas.
The book, The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos, by Heidi Adnum is an excellent resource for learning creative ways to photograph handmade items.
Along with plenty of clear instructions for photographing specific types of crafts, the book has loads of beautiful sample photos with notes about the DSLR camera settings used to take each image.
When I was creating my own visual source binder, I checked out the websites, Etsy shops, or Instagram accounts belonging to the craft artists credited in the book and found plenty of inspiration.
The Craftsy course, Product Photography at Home , also features plenty of excellent craft photography examples.
It's a great class specifically created for beginner craft photographers.
I also explored and found plenty of inspiration on the websites, Etsy shops, or Instagram accounts belonging to the craft artists featured in this course when I was making my visual source binder.
I thought I'd share some of my favorite product photography ideas that I've found in my own searches. You can find them on my Product Photography Ideas and Inspiration board on Pinterest.
You'll learn more and develop your own style faster if you actively analyze the images you're collecting.
As you find and save photos that interest you, determine the elements that were used to make each image compelling or distinctive and write it all down.
I've created a list of questions (below) you can ask yourself to better understand a photo you love.
It's a long list.
You don't have to answer every one of these questions for every photo you collect.
Some images will stand out because of their use of different color, others will use lighting you love. Note the characteristics and that are most important in your images.
A single dramatic effect or several small details can make a product photo look great!
After you've collected several photos and some favorites have emerged, you can analyze those images in greater detail if you like.
Before you read the next two sections:
If you read the next questions about design elements and composition and feel a bit lost because you're not familiar with some of the terms, don't worry!
Have a look at my photography composition tips for beginners. You'll find more detailed descriptions for all of those terms on that page.
Over time, as you analyze your images, you'll start to see patterns and develop a better understanding of what you like and don't like. You'll probably find yourself coming back to a few similar styles that you love and that feel right for your own products.
Your answers to the questions will help you understand exactly what you like in a product photo.
You won't be limited to thinking, "I love that photo." You'll be able to say you like product photos that create a specific kind of impression, and you'll know how those looks are created.
With that knowledge in place, you'll be ready to develop a distinctive look for you own company's product photos.
As you find product photography styles you like and learn what goes into creating that style, the next step is to experiment with your own photos.
Get out your photography equipment, and apply some of the techniques you love to your own product photos.
Be prepared to experiment. You may discover some techniques you loved in your collection of inspiration images don't work as well with your own products. Others will be perfect.
You didn't do all of this work to discover a distinctive photography style for your brand just to get sloppy in the implementation.
As you determine exactly how you want to photograph products, document it.
Create a product photography style guide that describes exactly what you do and don't do in your product photos. It will help you plan and set up for photo sessions more efficiently and maintain consistency over many photo sessions to create a cohesive brand image.