How to Use the Body in Product Photography
Lets say that a company wants to advertise their new line of perfume, so the photographer can show the bottle of the perfume by itself.
However, it is more appealing to a consumer to see an image of the perfume being used on a sensual lady's neck, therefore the consumer assumes that this perfume will make the opposite sex more interested and be more attracted to this area of the body simply because one placed a bit of fragrance on it.
Same thing goes will all products that are meant to be next to the skin. A foot lotion manufacturer will seek the same effect even thought many will not see a foot as sensual in any way nor would most anyone look upon a human elbow the same way.
Nevertheless the image intends on doing just that ; making the foot seem very healthy and even attractive.
Product manufacturers have been looking for all sorts of new ways of connecting their products to a want, need or desire and product photographers have been in the fore front of this technique.
Makeup, jewelry and perfume producers as well as many others are keen to the need to show sensual body parts in order to make the consumer think that if they use this or that product their feet, their hands, the neck, cleavage or any other part of a human body will be that much more attractive thus the photographer tries to capture images that make the connection.
The photographer goes a long way to carefully place and arrange all the elements for a shoot in just the right spots, sues clever lighting to accentuate this look and even uses other techniques to enhance the look of the product itself regardless of what this products happens to be.
Think about this for a moment; what does an image of a foot, a neck, or any other body part does to incite you to buy a product or in any way "tells" you that the product will change the way that you already look and feel? Really nothing but it is a clever way of not only demonstrating to you the best place to use the product but of how the manufacturer intends is to be used.
People are attracted to pretty sights and we seem to always associate a pretty sight with a possible change on ourselves if we use something meant for it. We see ourselves as the product suggest.
Remember the old Marlboro cigarette commercials which featured a manly looking cowboy with the brand in his hands or lips? The company wanted to associate its brand with manliness and being rough, yet a gentlemen at the same time.
This advertising camping went on for years and produced the desired effects. Marlboro cigarettes were overwhelmingly bought and used by men and rarely by women.
Everything is about appeal and how to present beautiful images of body parts that first capture the look and second keep the look focused on the ad then by association the consumer associated this beautiful look with whatever product it was used with.
This is often called brand positioning.
Shampoo manufactures always use beautiful models in their commercials and they always have great hair.
So you therefore are led to think that if you use their shampoo your hair will be just as beautiful and perhaps in the back of your mind you will somehow believe that you will look like the model.
It doesn't take a great deal of effort to achieve the look if you have the experience but the photographer must make sure that the images are of the best technical quality and light, filters, lens and poses make all of this happen.
Pose your model in the most desirable way that will allow you to clearly capture the body part that you want to isolate.
Arrange the product so that it clearly visible to your audience, test the light to ensure that it highlights the product well with no harsh spots and take your shots then.
Remember to isolate the body part but it is sometimes helpful to incorporate just so much of the rest of the body that it is apparent what part of the body it is.
Although abstract shots are good for this technique to effectively work and connect the product to the senses showing just enough to make an identification is better than either showing too much or too little.
Keep in mind that the product is the focus so the light must be emphasized on it and the body assumes a secondary role. It cannot take so much space in the frame as to overwhelm the main point of focus; the product.
Using body parts does not always mean that it is for a product. It can often be used in sending a message about a cause. Religious organizations and non profits use them all the time.
Knowing what you need to do and actually achieving the look are two different matters all together.
Assuming that you are a technical perfectionist and you have all of the specs in order getting the right look takes creativity and a certain photographic savvy.
The best method for understanding what looks work and which do not is usually achieved by looking at quite a few samples produced by the most experienced product photographers.
Paying attention to how they work the light, how they pose the models, how they crop for effect and what they do not include in their shots are all good points to emulate.
This does not mean copying the same shots that you see, but it is a good starting point of reference.
Did you find this technique interesting?
If you are doing this project for your own satisfaction or to build up your portfolio then the job is done once you finish your shoot.
If however you intend to sell your images or convince an advertiser that you can do their product photography, then build a list of potential commercial clients and submit samples of your images after obtaining their submission guidelines.
This is one good way to break into the business and since advertisers are always looking for freshness they may offer you a job at first but you better come through or risk never getting another offer again.
It may be worth it to start with local advertisers and move up from there once you have some actual samples that can serve to highlight your commercial work.