Looking for some creative product photography?
You’re probably here for one of two reasons, you need some creative product photos or you want ideas to take your own.
You don’t want product photos that are “okay,” you want them to be jaw-dropping, eye-catching, and wallet-opening!
This article is your go-to guide for achieving exactly that. Keep reading for …
Table of Contents:
- Twist on One-Second Before Shots
- Beyond Smoke: Capturing Mist & Fog
- Freeze The Motion With Style
- Include The Human Element
- Emphasize the Product’s Color
- Surreal Compositions
- Use Associations: Make Them Think
- Try Lifestyle Shots, But With A Quirk
- Layer Up With Textures
- Dynamic Symmetry
- Let Humor Take The Front Seat
- Imprints and Shadows: Leave a Mark
- Product Asbsorption: Blend It In
- Zoom In: Make Small Features Stand Out
- Show Ingredients or Components Creatively
- • Creative Props
Creative Product Photography Ideas
A Twist on One-Second-Before Shots
Almost every article on creative photography ideas starts with the one second before shot.
This is when you capture the split second before a splash or a fall.
But to be really creative, how about adding a twist?
Create a mini-storyboard sequence.
Show the setup, the ‘one-second-before,’ and the dramatic aftermath.
Why settle for a regular product photo when you can tell a short story?
A creative product photography example of the one second before shot.
Beyond Smoke: Capturing Mist and Fog
Adding smoke to a product photo is another popular creative idea.
So why not turn that on it’s head and try mist or fog?
A perfume bottle emerging from a soft cloud can give your product that enigmatic vibe.
Lights cutting through smoke behind a can of Guiness Draught Stout.
Freeze the Motion with Style
Ever tried freezing the motion of water or glitter around your product?
To do this you will need a high shutter speed and a flash to strobe the action and freeze it in place.
Why not do this with a unique twist—like using colored water or metallic confetti to add extra sparkle.
Creative product photo example of freeze motion – stopping time to catch water droplets with a flash.
Include the Human Element, But Make It Art
The human element is a hand, or foot, just a part of the body in the shot.
In the freeze motion example above, is a great example of adding the human element to a product photo.
While these type of creative human element images are popular, if I know you, and I don’t but I’m guessing … you want even more creative images!
So, instead of just a hand or face, how about using silhouettes or partial reflections to add a touch of humanity to your photos?
It’s mysterious, intriguing, and adds an extra layer of story.
Emphasize the Product’s Color with a Monochrome Background
Go monochrome on the background but keep the product in full color.
This not only makes your product pop but also adds a stylish, modern aesthetic to your photos.
A monochrome background doesn’t have to be black and white – mine is, but it doesn’t have to be!
Surreal Compositions: Unleash Your Inner Dali
Why stick to reality when you can bend it?
Create surreal setups that makes people question what they’re seeing. It’s a double-take guaranteed.
Turning this pour shot on its side gives a surreal feel!
Use Associations: Make Them Think
Place your product in a setting that evokes a strong association or feeling—like putting a travel pillow in a miniature airplane set or a skincare product in a spa-like setting made of mini tiles and candles.
Try Lifestyle Shots, But With a Quirk
Lifestyle shots are great, but make them memorable.
Place your product in unexpected lifestyle settings that make people smile—or better yet, share it on social media.
Layer Up with Textures
Who says backgrounds have to be flat?
Use multiple layers of textured materials, like fabrics, paper, or even leaves, to add depth and interest.
Using leaves, blocks, torn paper and extra textures to add interest and create depth in product photos.
Dynamic Symmetry: Balance Meets Chaos
Play with lines and geometric shapes to create dynamic symmetry.
It’s all about achieving a balanced yet chaotic visual effect that keeps eyes glued to the product.
Let Humor Take the Front Seat
How about adding some funny elements that relate to your product?
Humor creates a strong emotional connection and people are more likely to share funny images.
Imprints and Shadows: Leave a Mark
Use your product to cast unique shadows or to leave imprints on soft surfaces like sand or dough.
It’s like saying, “Yes, I was here.”
Creative shadows can be cast by items in the photo, or to create interesting shade and light areas across an image.
Product Absorption: Blend It In
Ordinarily, you want the product to stand out in a product photo, but this totally flies in the face of convention.
Make your product blend in with the background, only to reveal itself through patterns or shapes.
It’s a hide-and-seek game that viewers will love to play.
Zoom In: Make Small Features Stand Out
Got a product with intricate details?
Go for extreme close-ups to reveal those hidden gems.
But remember, keep it sharp and in focus!
Show Ingredients or Components in a Creative Way
If you’re photographing something that’s made up of various parts or ingredients, disassemble it!
Display all the components around the main product for an eye-catching “exploded view.”
Creative Product Photography Ideas at Home
DIY Textured Backgrounds: The Flour Moon Surface
You don’t need to go into a studio to create a lunar surface.
Get some flour and a baking sheet, smooth it out for a blank canvas, or add some “craters” for that authentic moon-like surface.
Perfect for showcasing small objects with an out-of-this-world theme!
The Magic of Household Props: Light Through a Colander
You’ve probably never looked at a colander and thought, “This would make a great photography tool.”
But guess what? It does!
Shine light through a colander and the holes will cast fascinating light patterns onto your product or background.
It’s a simple yet effective hack that gives your shots a professional look.
For this futuristic shot I used a drip pan from my kitchen to
pass red light through – and included it in the background.
You can see the lighting effect on the edge of the card box.
DIY Bokeh with Christmas Lights
Bokeh isn’t just for romantic shots; it can add an eye catching touch to your product photography too.
Wrap some Christmas lights around your product or place them in the background.
Use a low f-stop like 2.4 or 2.8 for a shallow depth of field. Then focus sharply on your product.
The result? The lights blur creating a beautiful bokeh that makes your product pop!
For this shot I used battery powered led fairy lights behind the bottles to create the bokeh.
Use Transparent Objects for a Prism Effect
Get a transparent object like a glass or a crystal and place it near your product.
Shoot light through it to create a beautiful prism effect that add some visual magic to your product photos.
This is great for jewelry or other reflective products.
Shooting light through glass can create interesting shadows
and even prism effects for your creative product photos.
Mirrors for More Than Just Reflections
Grab a mirror from your home. Large or small, a pocket mirror would even work.
Use it in your photography to duplicate or dissect your product.
You can also add depth by reflecting other elements in the setting.
This isn’t just about straight on reflections; you should get creative with angles to make it intriguing.
Three examples of creative product photos using mirrors.
Make Your Own Shadows with Crafty Cutouts
Cut shapes out of cardboard and place them between your light and your product.
Congratulations, you’ve now got dramatic, custom shadows that will add a layer of complexity to your image.
DIY Lightbox: Just a Cardboard Box and Some Paper
Sometimes you want that perfect, seamless background and now you can get it.
Create your own lightbox using a cardboard box and some white paper.
It’s cheap, effective, and excellent for products that need to shine without background distractions.
Be sure to be careful though. Hot lights can set paper and cardboard on fire if they are too close.
Food Coloring as a Creative Element
Adding a drop of food coloring to water can bring a vibrant splash of color to your product photography.
Imagine the aesthetic of a clear perfume bottle with a swirling cloud of color around it.
It’s a really easy trick that can deliver beautiful images.
Clothes Iron Steam for a Smoky Effect
Don’t have a smoke machine? No problem.
Your clothes iron or steamer can simulate the effect.
Use the steam function to create a smoky, hazy background.
That will add lots of atmosphere and depth to your product shots.
Creative Product Photography in Studio
Crafting an Atmosphere
There is no doubt a product photography studio offers you advantages.
You can control every element, down to the airflow.
Crafting the perfect atmosphere can make or break a product photo.
Temperature, humidity, and even scents can subtly influence the final outcome.
Use Professional Lighting Tricks
A masterclass in lighting can do wonders.
From spotlight focus to dramatic shadow play, studio lighting adds layers to your composition.
Natural light just can’t compete with a photographer that understands lighting.
It takes time and patience to learn professional photography lighting.
A small change to a light set up can have a big impact and I highly recommend a lighting masterclass if you want to take product photos.
It doesn’t have to be a product lighting course either.
Although Photigy has excellent product photo masterclasses – I took some but I am not affiliated with them in any other way.
The Fishing Line Trick
Want to make your product look like it’s floating in mid-air?
Get out that fishing line and let the levitation games begin.
It is easy to erase the line in most any photo editing program.
Light painting offers a dramatic flair to product photography.
With a slow shutter speed and a small flashlight or even your smartphone’s screen, you can “paint” details, highlights, or even abstract forms in a darkened scene.
Just open the shutter, move the light around your subject, and boom! Instant art!
Note: Use a tripod to keep your camera stable.
Jello Lens Filter
Color filters can be expensive, but you can DIY it when budget is a problem.
Cut a small square from colored Jello packaging and tape it “gently” over your lens.
This gives your product photos a color cast, which ideal for creating a particular mood or style.
Water Droplet Lens
Create a dreamlike quality by placing a few drops of water on a clear piece of plastic or glass and hold it in front of your lens.
The water droplets will act as mini lenses, creating interesting distortions and bokeh effects in your background.
Make use of optical illusions.
By changing the distance and angles between objects in your frame, you can make items look larger, smaller, farther, or closer than they actually are.
This is a great technique for emphasizing features on smaller products!
DIY Light Streaks
Ever seen a photo where car tail lights are streaking through the picture?
That is from using a long exposure, leaving the shutter open for a longer time to catch the movement.
Why not use a long exposure setting and a moving light source like a flashlight or LED strip to create light streaks in your product photos?
While this has elements of light painting, it is an effect of it’s own and I felt it deserved a section to explain.
Light streaks can generate a dynamic, futuristic vibe that grabs attention.
The Sandwich Bag Trick
An oldie but a goodie! Secure a clear sandwich bag around your lens, with the open end sticking out.
This adds a soft, dreamy vignette to your photos.
For an extra punch, you can rub some colored chalk or pastel on the bag to provide a pop of color to the haze.
This technique involves detaching the lens from your camera and holding it very close to the camera body.
The detachment allows for light leaks and a natural tilt-shift effect.
Lens whacking adds an ethereal, vintage feel to your photos, but it will require practice, so don’t get discouraged.
Quick Creative Photography Tips
Use Tacky Putty
Struggling to keep props in place?
Tacky putty can be a lifesaver.
Place a small amount under your props to secure them exactly where you want them.
It’s especially useful for objects that have a tendency to roll or shift.
Watch this short video to see tacky putty in action – putty edited out of final image.
Makeup Sponges as Shims
A flat angle isn’t always the best angle, so use makeup sponges as makeshift shims to tilt or elevate your products.
They’re soft, adjustable, and can be easily hidden behind other props.
Unusual Items as Props
Consider using geometric shapes or miniature figurines as props.
These add a creative and abstract frame to your product, making it stand out.
Props That Tell a Story
Why use a prop if it doesn’t add to the photo’s narrative?
Choose props that tell a story or create a context for your product.
It’s not just about the product; it’s about the world it lives in.
Photo Props With Screwed Up Dimensions
You can find all kinds of weird props if you look around.
Miniature shopping carts are an example of an item we see all the time morphed to a miniature.
Likewise, you can find huge buttons that are usually small scale.
These screwed up dimensions add a element of the absurb and draw attention.
Creative Backgrounds for Product Photography
Some colors just naturally look good together and you can use that to your advantage.
A complementary background can make your product visually pop off the page!
Use a color wheel to help you find the proper colors.
DIY Paper Craft Backgrounds
Feeling crafty? Paper isn’t just for preschoolers.
Fold, cut, and craft your way into creating an orginal background for your product shots.
Some product photographers even use designs cut out by a Cricut Cutting Machine* to create unique shapes.
* – That is an affiliate link for Cricuts on Amazon. It costs you nothing extra, but if you buy I would get a small affiliate fee.
One day as I was strolling through a JoAnn’s Fabric looking for background ideas, I found scrapbooking paper on sale.
These were books of 12″ x 12″ designed paper, everything from watercolor looks to pastels, grunge to vintage looks.
One book would give you a slew of possibilities for unqiue photo backgrounds for smaller products.
And speaking of being in a fabric store, you can use fabric to create creative backgrounds for your product photos.
Fabric can be laid flat, bunched up, swirled or laid over other items to create a base for your shot.
It can also easily be taped up to act as a backdrop.
The best part, it doesn’t need to be purchased!
I seen photographers photograph products on their sweaters, shirts, pants, and, well, you name it, you can use it.
(Just make sure the clothes are clean!)
Creative Product Photography From Start to Finish
Before you pull out your camera and set up your product, you need to make a plan.
You wouldn’t bake a cake without a recipe, would you?
The same goes for your product photography.
Sketch your ideas, choose your props, and plan your lighting in advance.
This way, you will know what you are doing before you start clicking away.
Before You Shoot
Once your plan is in place, make sure to gather everything you will need for the shoot.
Have it organized as best you can and keep things tidy so everything is easy to find when needed.
If you are creating a special background, do it before you shoot.
The goal is to make things easy so once you begin you can concentrate on the images instead of having to go find something to create the shot.
During The Photoshoot
Once you capture a shot as you saw it in your mind before the shoot, try some variations.
Play with moving lights, props and changing camera angles.
Get creative, after all, we are going for creative photos!
Sometimes the best shots are the ones you end up playing with and trying new things.
Clicking the photo is only half the battle.
Now it is time to unleash the power of editing software to add the finishing touches.
One of the best in my opinion is Photoshop, I use it for almost every image I deliver.
Editing takes time, but as you learn it gets faster and easier. It is a skill worth developing.
Creative Product Photography Brief: Your Roadmap to Success
A creative brief in product photography is the foundational document that outlines everything for the photoshoot.
It lists the objectives, target audience, visual style, and logistical details of the project.
Think of it as a project blueprint; and it’s not just a guideline for the photographer either.
A creative brief is a point of reference that the client, marketing team, and anyone else involved can refer to.
What’s Included in a Creative Brief?
A comprehensive creative brief might include the following information:
- Project Overview: A summary of what the project entails, the products to be photographed, and the intended use of the images (e.g., e-commerce, social media, print ads).
- Objectives: Clearly defined goals that the project aims to achieve, like increasing product awareness or capturing the brand’s feel.
- Target Audience: Description of the demographic you’re trying to reach, including age, gender, lifestyle, and shopping habits.
- Tone and Style: The emotional vibe and visual look you’re going for—be it minimalistic, vibrant, moody, or whimsical.
- Deliverables: A list of specific outputs required, such as the number and format of the photographs, any post-processing needs, and delivery timelines.
- Budget and Resources: Details on available funds, equipment, props, and personnel.
- Constraints and Limitations: Any challenges or restrictions like tight deadlines, budget limits, or product availability.
- Competitor Analysis: An optional but useful section that discusses how competitors approach their product photography, giving you insights on what to do—or not to do.
- Legal and Compliance: Information on copyrights, trademarks, and any other legalities to consider.
How to Use the Creative Brief
- Initial Consultation: During your initial client or team meeting, go over the elements that will be included in the brief to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Drafting: After gathering all the necessary information, assemble your creative brief. This could be a collaborative effort or done solely by one designated person.
- Review and Approval: The brief should be reviewed by all stakeholders and approved before work begins.
- Reference Point: Throughout the project, refer back to the brief to ensure you’re meeting objectives and staying on track. It serves as a touchstone for decision-making and conflict resolution.
- Final Evaluation: Once the project is complete, revisit the brief to assess whether all objectives were met and what lessons can be learned for future projects.
Having a well-constructed creative brief gives you the foundation for a successful product photography shoot.
It makes sure that everyone involved knows what’s what—who’s doing what, why they’re doing it, and what the end goal is.
So, while it might feel like a chore to set up, the payoffs in clarity and efficiency are worth it.
Examples of Creative Product Photography to Inspire You
As if the examples throughout the article aren’t enough, here are a few extra examples to help inspire you!
Creative Product Photography FAQ’s
What is Creative Product Photography?
Creative product photography goes beyond standard shots to incorporate artistic elements, techniques, and props that make the product not just seen, but also felt.
How Do You Take Creative Product Photography?
Start with planning your shot, choosing unique angles and props, and don’t forget the post-production work. Creativity isn’t a one-step process.
What Does a Creative Photographer Do?
A creative photographer pushes boundaries, experiments with different techniques, and isn’t afraid to break a few rules to create stunning visuals.
What is Creative Style Photography?
Creative style photography uses unconventional methods, artistic elements, and bold choices to make the photos stand out from the usual fare.
What is the Definition of a Creative Product?
A creative product is something that is both novel and functional. It’s not just unique; it serves a purpose too.
What is Considered a Creative Product?
Anything that adds a new twist to a familiar concept or solves a problem in an unconventional way can be considered a creative product.
There you have it!
A treasure trove of ideas, hacks, and tips to inspire your creativity for amazing product photography.
This took a lot of time and effort to put together, so if you got something out of it, do me a solid and share it on social media or bulletin boards for others to see.
Really want to thank me, follow me on Instagram at @tcproductphotos.
Now there is only question left is, what are you waiting for?
Go unleash your creative genius!
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Just fill out the form below for a short consultation call where we can discuss your project and asset needs.
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