90% of this image is lit by the Christmas lights and candles, meaning the image remains true to the environment where the product would be used. This helps tell the story of the product, and place it in within a context.
1. Creating a Story
The initial part of the story is created in the mind’s eye of the consumer when they look at your product photos, which are one of your most important sales tools. Look at things from your customer’s point of view: they can’t physically see your product in front of them, they can’t feel it, turn it or touch it.
So the primary goal of the photo is to accurately describe the product and convey the tangible elements of the product. Your photos also communicate the feel of the product: for instance, does it have a smooth or coarse texture? Is it glossy or matte?
This also applies to products created by surface pattern designers and greetings card designers. To your mind the product is more about the artwork, and not the card or product itself, but the customer wants to the see the whole; they want to see special finishes and the texture of the card for example.
The secondary goal of the photo is to place the product within a context, to help your customer visualise your product in its natural environment, and to promote a lifestyle promise associated with your brand.
Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, you need to decide how you want to place the image and therefore what type of photo you need.
Depth of Field
Two of the most important aspects in telling a visual story are light and depth of field.
The depth of field or softness of focus has a profound effect on a photo. It changes the feeling of the overall image and what is evoked by the image. It is also used to place emphasis on certain items within the frame. A camera lens can only focus on a single point, with a resulting area of sharpness that stretches in front of and behind this focus point, and this is what creates depth of field.
A shallow depth of field is primarily used in product photography to blur the items in the foreground and background. This helps to concentrate the viewer on your product, and not the props. An image with a broad depth of field, is sharp throughout the depth of the image. These images can accurately describe all the details, surface textures and reflections of the product and the overall scene.
Where there are multiple products in the image, it’s usually better to use a broader depth of field so that the majority of the product, or at least the design upon the product, is in focus.