It is widely known that the good presentation of a product is the key to its market success. This explains the importance of packaging that will make it possible to display the product prominently on the shop shelf among other, often similar, products. The attention of the customer may be caught by the unusual shape of the packaging, its material, colour, as well as the photo placed on it. It is not ordinary photography, but a packshot – product photography, which, apart from packaging design, is our passion in Tango.
While looking at product photos on packaging, on company websites or in Internet shops, as well as in the papers, catalogues or leaflets, we rarely realise how much work went into taking them. In order to expose what is the best in the product, we devote a lot of time not only to the session itself, but also to the graphic processing of its photos. What makes a good packshot? We will not reveal all the tricks of the trade, but we will gladly describe some of the most interesting procedures that determine the strength of product photography.
What is a packshot?
Packshots are photos of a separated object on a uniform and even background, representing the same product without any arrangement of the surrounding. It seems then that they are ordinary and very easy to take. Nothing could be further from the truth – preparing such photos involves much reflection and adoption of the right approach that will make it possible to expose the best of the given product.
Taking a memorable product photo requires the skilful use of chiaroscuro, which helps to expose the shape of the product, the proper setting of the lighting, which will expose only the good characteristics of the photographed product, and an arrangement of the object so as to make it possible to tell as much as possible about it through only one photo.
How to make a packshot?
A good packshot should first of all underline the main characteristics of the product. If we take a photo of a food product, we want to underline its delicious taste. In the case of water or any other liquid, we try to emphasise that it is wet. What counts in ice cream is the freezing effect. In jewellery, it is its glow and elegance that we want to expose. The first thing that we do, before the photo session starts, is to think about the characteristics of the product. Next, we decide how to present them. They may be represented in various ways. While some of them do not trigger any emotions, others immediately incite the interest of customer. One example is water, which looks much more interestingly when „in motion”, e.g. while splashing, than static in a glass.
Apart from properly positioning the product, we use various additional tricks that help to expose the nature of the objects being photographed. Sometimes, we make use of pins, toothpicks, adhesive tape, or even plasticine, which help us, for instance, to manage unruly salami slices on a pizza. Cobwebs, snow or dew in a spray constitute other tricks used by our photographers to make work at a photoshoot location easier.
Although packshot photos seem very easy to take for the average customer, they require the skilful use of chiaroscuro, which helps to expose the shape of the product, the proper setting of the lightning, which will expose only the good characteristics of the photographed product, and such an arrangement of the object so as to tell as much as possible about it through only one photo.
Photo editing, or emphasising the advantages of the product
A photo session is followed by post-production. It is an equally important stage of work on photographs, which allows for enhancing the effect achieved during the session. Moreover, photo editing is supposed to underline the main characteristics of the product represented on our packshot. Objects represented using professional graphic design software are cleared of dust particles, wrinkles and scratches. Their sharpness is enhanced. They are polished, and efforts are made to improve their colour saturation. In post-production, all auxiliary accessories used for the photo session, such as the aforementioned pins or adhesive tape, are removed from the photo.
Importantly, photo editing does not consist of distorting reality or manipulating viewers, but of increasing the aesthetic dimension of the photography. A good packshot does not falsify reality, but helps to expose something exceptional even in an average product. Post-production, in turn, reinforces this effect. It is thus important to keep balance in photo editing. This requires experienced and highly skilled photographers, thanks to whom colours will be vivid and saturated, but will not differ from the real colours, while the shapes and dimensions of the product will be natural, not caricatural. Thanks to good editing, a photo underlines the value of the product.
A photo studio with … a kitchen
Tango is eager to use packshot photos. What makes our agency unique is our own graphic studio, in which we may hold such a session at any time. It is particularly useful for the most demanding type of product photography – photos of food products, which we take the most frequently. We are proud of our studio, which is really well-equipped: apart from typical photographic equipment and various types of backgrounds and professional software, it also has a kitchen, which makes it possible to prepare dishes for a photo session on the spot. We are glad to invite cooks into our kitchen, who conjure up extraordinary dishes from our customers’ products.
A stove, a microwave, a sink, a refrigerator, and kitchen accessories – they are probably not the items of equipment that immediately spring to mind in the context of a photo-studio, but they are necessary in cooperation with the food industry, in which most of our customers operate. Such photos are particularly challenging for us because they often have to capture products that quickly lose their initial appearance, such as ice cream or pizza taken straight from the oven. Showing their freshness on photos is a task that gives us a lot of satisfaction. We are not afraid of fashion sessions and packshots of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. We are eager to work on every product, trying to unlock its potential and present it in the most interesting way possible. We are glad that customers entrust us with building such an important element of their image. We are looking forward to new challenges!