Gina and I decided to shoot a test set for this article. We used the camera of the Nokia Lumina 920 smartphone to do it. The 16:9 screen format of smartphones, laptops and widescreen monitors presents a new set of possibilities. This article was written to introduce those possibilities to you.
What is right about the first picture?
The first thing that strikes us when we look at this first picture is that the iron (our main subject) is not in the exact center of the frame, which is what the human brain would expect. But by offsetting the iron slightly to the right the eyes of the viewer are guided directly to the iron itself. This is reinforced by the 16:9 format by providing more optical space and depth to the picture. This optical space is optimally arranged in the photo through the additional elements (furs, branches, log, laundry pins, ivy branch, etc.) carefully and purposefully placed one behind the other to create more visual depth. The iron’s position relative to the bottom and the top of the frame is essential here. Just like the framing of a “passe-partouts” the space between the product and the top frame is marginally smaller than the space between the product and the bottom frame. Something else to appreciate is that the arrangement of the iron and all the elements in the photograph tell a short story, a story that the observer’s brain describes on its own to build up a positive feeling towards the product. A product that tells a story through a picture will always be more exciting for the potential buyer than a lifeless object.
Find the mistake.
We have intentionally photographed the same arrangement the wrong way. What is wrong with it? To begin with the iron, which is our main subject, is cut off at the top. In this construction the viewer cannot capture the iron at glance on a computer monitor because the eyes keep jumping back and forth between the handle and the metal plate of the iron. This creates a feeling of discomfort, and discomfort is not the ideal feeling to create if our idea is to offer our product for sale. Many people make the mistake of photographing their products too closely with the intention to show the product’s detail but the result is not a beautiful picture. Such pictures have no depth or narrative and, like this example, the end result is just the picture of an old rusty iron.
A picture that speaks for itself.
After my description and comments about the two photographs presented above, it is not really necessary in my opinion to elaborate too much on this third image. This picture shows a close photograph of a rusty iron on a workbench. If you intend to operate an online shop selling vintage items pleases ask yourself which picture is most likely to lead to a sale.
Gina and I hope this article will give you an idea or two for your own product photography.