Poor product photography: why make yourself look bad?

Yesterday I talked about the need to produce good material for the trade press, if you want to stand any chance of getting some coverage. It’s understandable that as magazines have got smaller and the chances of being featured reduce, companies have allocated less budget to their press activity. But it’s a false economy: when the competition gets greater, you need to spend more to compete, not less. Either that, or just retire gracefully.

One area where genuinely misjudged economies have been made over the past 20 years is in product photography. It’s a strange feature of 21st century life that we’re going backwards in so much, from the time taken to fly across the Atlantic to the audio quality of music we listen to. A trade magazine from 1993 would feature dozens of photos of industrial products which were inventively staged, well lit and professionally shot. Judging from what I see published in 2013, today’s editors must despair at the sheer awfulness of the stuff they’re sent.

And this is doubly baffling, because product photography has wider use than ever before. My heart leaps when a company using us to make product videos provides a great set of photos to work with (like this one). Product pages on your website look great if there’s a photo which can be run the full width of the page, proudly, rather than hidden away because the product was thrown on a desk and photographed with an iPhone.

Sure, a session with a decent product photographer isn’t cheap. But it’s a lot better value than, for example, throwing money at advertising in places where the response isn’t being measured.

Discussion

  1. Adrian Maguire

    Spot on Chris. I fear it is only going to get worse before it gets better. Though some clients appreciate that a professional photographer uses more than just equipment to produce a great picture, many are seduced by the relative low cost of decent cameras and the DIY approach.

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