Cosmetic product photography is in demand as more small businesses enter the e-commerce space. Each line and product demands a unique eye and vision - which you can achieve by truly stepping into the mind of the consumer.
In this article, we’ll be covering the process of a cosmetic product shoot, what gear you’ll need, and some of the top tips in the field to make your shots stand out.
What Gear Do I Need?
There is a variety of gear that you should consider bringing to your cosmetic photoshoot. Ensuring that you are well-prepared will instill a sense of confidence in you as the artist and show your clients that you are qualified (and talented!).
Some of the gear that every photographer should consider bringing are:
- A camera
- Zoom lenses (preferably f/2.8) or prime lenses (f/1.8 or wider)
- A sturdy tripod
- A table
- Various photography backdrops
- Light sources (all kinds)
- White foam board
- Small boxes and other elements to style your products
It is important not to assume that clients will have anything on-site, so it is important to be prepared. Some of the most basic elements, such as lighting or solid color background can make a difference in your creative shot.
What To Do Before You Start Shooting
Basic elements, such as the cleanliness and manipulation of light can make your product shot stand out. Because of this, it is important to not simply jump into shooting.
Instead, consider taking the time to prepare the products and background elements for the most impactful shot yet.
Here are some of the main things to consider before your shot:
Are my products clean?
While this may seem obvious, and your products may not have any clearly visible blemishes, this can be a common problem in a product shot.
You will likely experiment with positioning and lighting - which can cause renewed focus on unavoidable environmental additions, such as dust or fingerprints.
These can ruin a shot, so it is crucial to ensure that your product is cleaned. You can also travel with a small set of cleaning supplies to quickly erase any problematic dust or leftover residue.
Are my lenses clean?
The cleaning process should also extend to your lens. While lens caps and cases are protective, dust can still sneak in and compromise the composition of your shot.
To avoid any blemishes, give your lens a quick wipe with lens tissue, cleaning cloth, or blower. Use small circular motions, and avoid harsh back-and-forth wiping. This can help protect your lens from scratches from any dust that rests on the surface.
Evaluate Your Natural Light
Lighting can dictate the mood and overall style of your shot. If you are shooting on-site in a new location, be sure to build in time to evaluate your natural light sources.
If you are outdoors, evaluate ways to create shade so that the light is not overpowering in the shot. If there is no natural light available, you can artificially create a natural glow by using one to two continuous lights, and a reflector to bounce it back onto the subject of your shot.
Tip #1: Simplicity is Key
Your product composition can be simple - after all, this can let the product shine on its own! For this look, consider using only one or two props (if any!) and sticking to neutral or solid colored backgrounds.
With less stylized elements to maintain and compose, you can truly let the product shine through with different variations of lighting and position. This exudes a very modern and minimalist look in your shot.
Tip #2: Match Product Colors
Product colors can dictate the mood of the shoot. For a cohesive and sleek shot, consider matching the product colors for a monochromatic look.
This can show a moodier side to the shoot, and create artistic dissonance behind the natural softer or brighter looks that we so often see in cosmetic marketing.
Tip #3: Mix It Up
Sometimes, random is best! The look of controlled or organized, artistic “chaos” can bring complexity to your shot. This strategy works especially well if you have multiple products being showcased in a single shot.
You can play with other different additions, such as plants or papers, to add more levels of intricacy while preserving the focus on the main subject - the products.
Tip #4: Use a Different Style
If you’re working with a new product line or arrival, consider composing the shot with some different, more striking elements. You can still infuse a difference while preserving the general style guidelines for the brand.
Easily do this by lighting adjustments, product arrangements, or lesser-used elements in the shot. Something as simple as an angle or perspective shift can provide a new breath of ingenuity into your shot.
Tip #5: Change Your Background
Don’t limit your creative prowess to the studio around you. If you aren’t feeling inspired with your pre-created backgrounds, go outside! Shoot in nature, shoot in the city, shoot in unconventional spaces.
This can be especially useful if your product is more industrial-themed, trendy, or mod-chic. You can capture an irreplaceable sense of modernity and creativity when you push the limits with your background. Boring shoots no more - no backdrop needed.
Tip #6: Manipulate Your Light
You can create a beautiful shot by simply altering your light. While standard overhead light is common in product shots, you can achieve stunning results by taking advantage of natural light where it is available.
Αlso, create the effect of natural light in a studio setting by taking two standard lights and using a reflector to bounce the glow back onto your subject. As with any lighting change, new shadows or glare can appear. It is important to consider that as you are likely to encounter glass or metallic products in your next cosmetic shoot.
Tip #7: Enjoy Those Angles
Cosmetic products provide a unique opportunity to use angles in your composition. Many of the popular manufactured product and packaging shapes go far beyond the normal box, expanding into an array of geometric shapes including octagons, triangles, and cylinders.
You can play with angles and elements that enhance them, like your lighting and shadows. This can help draw the eye to certain elements of the composition and enhance your shot.
How to Have an Amazing Cosmetic Shoot
Your cosmetic shoot is an opportunity to hone your skills and showcase your expertise as an artist. Cosmetics provide unique opportunities to capture different angles and styles in each shot.
When working on your cosmetic shoot, you can incorporate several different techniques to take your shot to the next level. Consider incorporating different stylized elements, such as background, props, lighting maneuvers, and variety in composition to create a well-rounded and comprehensive portfolio of shots.