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product photography / advertising photography - what is the difference?

Have you been thinking about commissioning photography for your brochure, website or publicity material?

Have you also thought about which type of photography you really need?

Throughout this website we have mentioned two types of commercial photography - product photography and advertising photography - what is the difference?

Product Photography

This type of commercial photography is used to illustrate the detail and general look of a product, whether it is a piece of engineering, or a fashion garment.

Since the digital revolution there has been a tendency for some businesses to think that as they have someone in the company who owns a digital camera, how difficult can it be to photograph an item on a table or a desk with a bit of ambient light shining on it?

The answer is - not difficult at all if you are happy with a less than flattering image of your product and inevitably your company.

digital montage image

Photography for an ecommerce website or a catalogue is the only visual reference your customer will have of your product, (no matter how comprehensive your description). It is vital that your photographs are clear and as informative as possible.

We employ techniques such as shadow eliminating 360 degree lighting, cut out floating images and multiple image montaging to show different views of the same item.

Advertising Photography

This type of commercial photography is often used to illustrate a mood or an atmosphere to spark a reaction in the customer. This is achieved by connotation, surroundings, situation and lighting etc.

product photograph of a coffe table atmospheric lifestyle photograph of a coffee table

Shown here is the same coffee table photographed as a clear, uncluttered product shot and again as an atmospheric advertising image.

product photograph of a model in black nighty

Catalogue photography of clothing will show as much detail as possible, its texture, shape, outline and detailing.

An advertising image of the same garment will depict it in an aspirational situation with the model looking happy, sexy or whatever mood is appropriate.

It is to subliminally convey the idea of 'buy me and you will feel and look this good'.

lifestyle photograph of model lying on a bed in black nighty

Many companies often use both types of photography. For example, on a website or in a catalogue the product photography is used to show the customer what they will be buying, and the editorial photography is used to decorate the website or catalogue and show how the product can be used.