Packshot Photography - The Real Cost Of Doing It Yourself

By: William Penworthy


Packshot photography is deceptively difficult to achieve properly, and pack shot photographers can easily be ignored by small business owners who believe that any old product image will do. Whilst it would certainly be true to say that anyone can take a photograph of a product, it takes a good deal more to take a photograph which will help sell the product. Too many ‘home brew’ packshots tend to do the product or business a disservice. Whoever said that there is no such thing as bad publicity obviously didn’t see some of the in-house publicity shots taken by many businesses!

Packshots that are created professionally are those images which usually have a completely plain white background, with no shadows, reflections or edges to detract from the product itself. This in itself is very hard to achieve without the help of a professional pack shot photography studio, since it invariably requires a properly designed infinity cove - a curved wall which allows products to be placed so that the background appears to continue to infinity. This allows the product to stand out very clearly and professionally, and is ideal for use in catalogues, magazines, fliers, brochures and on the web.

But another issue to consider is that of lighting. Quite plainly using a standard camera flash or office lighting will not do the product justice at all. For one thing fluorescent lighting tends to add a blue or green hue to most subjects, and in some cases this can really detract from the original vibrancy or appeal of the product. Reflections are another problem, with either too many or too few making the product either seem flat, plain and dull, or so shiny it’s almost impossible to see properly. A professional packshot photographer will be able to get just the right lighting rig set up so that your product is illuminated in such a way that its original colour is not just reproduced faithfully, but enhanced to positive effect. Shadows, tonal subtleties and reflections are all captured so that the final product image is at least as realistic and clear as the original.

Many packshot images need to be clipped, and the better studios are able to offer a number of post production image manipulation services, including image clipping. By using image clipping you will be able to obtain images of your products which have been cut out away from the background, enabling them to be pasted over alternative backgrounds, helping them to blend seamlessly with your advertising, web page or promotional literature styles. This clipping is a fine art, and can often involve a very lengthy process of digitally cutting around even the tiniest corner or edge of your product image. Done professionally the result looks crisp and clean; done by the rest of us the image looks more like something you’d glue into a scrap book if you were in a hurry.

Once you have a professionally created pack shot you will be able to use it in a whole host of different ways. Perhaps you have a website business, or sell your products through online stores or services. By incorporating your packshots into these pages you will instantly be able to portray a professional appearance and approach which suggests to customers that you are serious about providing an excellent service. An in-house photograph will suggest that you have cut corners and done things ‘on the cheap’, which will often suggest to potential customers that you may cut corners elsewhere too, such as with packaging, after sales support and perhaps even the quality or genuine nature of the products. With so many online businesses vying for attention it often takes very little to discourage a potential sale, and there will always be heaps of alternative suppliers available. Standing out and making the right impression at the very start is essential in today’s highly competitive and increasingly image driven world of retail.

For many businesses the idea of packshot photography for their website, brochures, leaflets, posters or other promotional material tends to imply high costs. Yet the truth is that obtaining professional, custom made packshot images of your products need not be expensive - and certainly not nearly as expensive as losing a vast proportion of your sales through poor visual promotion and publicity. When you consider that it is possible to have pack shot photographs of your products created for around the same price as a return bus ticket to the next town, it not only makes sense to use professional pack shot photographers to provide their wealth of experience in packshot photography, it makes no sense not to. Unless you enjoy quiet days with little to do and no noisy telephone to answer.

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