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The art of product & lifestyle photography

Inspire wedding and portrait photography clients to buy photo books and albums with stunning product photography. This blog post explains how to capture your product’s handcrafted features, and style the scene for maximum effect.

A well considered and captured photograph can mean the difference between someone looking at your website or having them sail right by. You’ve only got a split second to grab their attention, so in this blog post we ask Michelle and Hemi Phillips from Patina Photo how to shoot lifestyle and product photos that make people stop and want to look again.

Who is Patina Photo + Video?

We are creatives from New Zealand who travel the island capturing all the feels of wedding celebrations. Michelle is a self-confessed animal lover who is not too cool to squeal whenever she sees a cute dog in a raincoat, and Hemi is a planning and creative wizard with a weakness for cake.

Adventure Together | http://patina.photo

 

What are your top photo styling tips?

Style with things that make sense to you and your client. Ask yourself, how would your client experience their album? We imagined that our clients would look at it snuggled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a blanket, so we styled our shoot with those props. When the shots involve people, keep the posing nice and natural, like you’ve just stumbled upon them.

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Don’t get caught out with the uncanny valley affect though! If the scene is too clean it looks a bit sterile. Imagine if someone sat down to look at their album then got up suddenly to answer the door, what would the scene look like? Would there be a cup of tea? Glasses or a phone next to the album on a coffee table? Would they have left it open or closed? Would it be sitting on a shelf or on top of a blanket? Having these elements helps your client imagine having their own album in their own home.

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Any tips on how to keep the pages open?

We love how the Flush Mount Albums sit perfectly flat – it makes life easy – but sometimes we like to add a bit of space between the pages to make them look as though they’re being opened. To create the effect we wedge a small item like a pen, USB stick or a ball of paper or Blu-Tack between the pages, ensuring it’s hidden from view.  It’s a great way to show off the thick pages and add some depth to the scene.

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Editor’s Note: If you’re shooting a photobook with lighter weight paper, you can lightly press down on the gutter to get the pages to sit flatter momentarily while you snap, or you can use objects like a big bulldog clip to slip under the cover to prop the book on an angle for something a little different.

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Editor’s Note: Another favourite trick when shooting a cover rather than spreads, is to sit something under the book or album to raise it off the table and create a shadow underneath – so it looks like it’s floating. We just use whatever we have to hand but a stack of post it notes is great as you can easily adjust the height. Just make sure they’re smaller than the cover and remain invisible.

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What are the best lighting conditions?

Light is everything, so take your time to find a corner with beautiful light. Rearrange the furniture if you need to bring it closer to a big window, and turn off the room light so you aren’t mixing colour temperatures. If you have limited options in your house or office, and you’re looking for more variations, ask a friend if you can shoot at their place.

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What camera settings do you use?

Our camera settings vary but for pulled-back shots of the full album, we usually use a narrow aperture (f4-f5.6) paired with a wide lens (35-24mm) to give maximum detail.

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For close-ups of the paper or cover textures or to highlight the sharp edges or fine craftsmanship, we usually use a narrower lens (50-85mm) and a wider aperture (~f2) to give more depth and draw the viewer’s attention in.

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What are the best angles or perspectives?

We are always trying to look out for new perspectives and angles but we often come back to angles that capture the experience from the client’s point of view (POV) such as over the shoulder as a person turns the pages of an album. This helps your client feel connected to the product, and helps them imagine owning an album of their own. It also makes a killer gif for your social feed!

 

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Any tips on content for social posts?

It’s easy to overthink social media posts. Just think about it as a casual conversation or “a transfer of enthusiasm.” Just say what gets you excited about printed products, outline the benefits they offer, and show them your favourite cover materials and other finishing options. If you love the leather because it’s super durable and ages well, or the large text embossing because it personalised the book, show that and sell that to them. Just don’t be super salesy.

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Any other hot tips?

Do your planning and make a shot-list. Think about all the questions your clients ask and what they most want to see and shoot that! And make sure you grab a mixture of landscape and portrait orientation shots, with plenty of space around the edges of the book or album, so you can crop in for different uses on social feeds, your website or in printed collateral.

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Download and use Patina’s promo images

We hope this inspires you to produce some new products shots, and entice your wedding or portrait photography clients to buy photo books and albums.  In the meantime, Michelle and Hemi have kindly allowed us to share their fabulous images with you so you can use them in your digital and print promotions. Download them from Momento Pro’s Promotional Content and don’t miss the .psd files that you can drop your own photos into.

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