If you want to succeed in the fast-moving world of advertising photography, your first need to understand exactly what it is and what sets it apart from commercial and product photography. Take a moment to think of the best adverts you’ve seen recently — the stand out images are more than pack shots or pictures of sultry models draped across the product, aren’t they?
So what makes a good advertising image?
It’s critical to remember when taking a photograph for an advertisement that the subject of your picture is not the product but the benefit that derives from owning the product. Most advertising shots naturally feature the product that is being sold but by no means all. Furthermore, advertising images are certainly not confined to still life and pack shots; you could be taking pictures on any scale, from a panoramic landscape for a travel pitch to a coffee bean or an eyelash coated in mascara. So even within advertising photography, professional photographers tend to develop an area in which they specialise.
Tips and techniques for a great advertising shot
- Discuss the brief in detail with your client. You may be given very exact instructions regarding the image required but if they are at all vague in any area, ask questions.
- Make sure you know the target audience for the advertisement and the benefit the client is trying to sell.
- Look at how your client’s rivals advertise their products and identify the differences between them — their USPs.
- Compose your image to have maximum impact — make the visual message clear.
- Ask your client for the copy they propose to use in the advert. The picture and the copy must work together rather than against each other.
- Take care to produce the best technical image possible — it needs to catch the target’s eye and it needs to be appealing, or they will just turn the page.
- Keep abreast of technical innovations and trends in advertising. The worst thing you can do is turn in a piece of work that simply looks dated.
- When it comes to the actual shoot, make sure your equipment is up to the job and that you are working in an appropriate setting—advertising demands the highest technical quality of any form of photography.
- Plan ahead to ensure you have suitable models that are appropriately dressed and perfectly groomed, and that you have all the props you might need for the picture.
- Take your time in Understanding advertising photography to create the perfect image; this is especially important in advertising photography.
The glossy ads you see in magazines for sports cars and handbags are taken by photographers at the very top of their profession. These are people with superbly creative minds and years of experience. However, every business needs to advertise and market its products and services, so even if you’re just starting out as a photographer and you want to break into advertising, there will be opportunities. The budgets may be low and the shoots less than glamorous but if you can produce a persuasive image, you will have your foot on the first rung of the ladder. Then it’s up to you how high you climb.