Mastering the Art of Beauty & Cosmetic Still Life Photography

Mastering the Art of Beauty & Cosmetic Still Life Photography 900 900 Studio Concept S.r.l.

Still-Life photography, or product photography, is an essential part of marketing in the cosmetic field. The main task is to create an impactful image, making the most out of the setting, playing with lights, colors, and shadows. The professional shots, with a sophisticated and refined charm, come from a compulsive attention to detail that’s why they are able to immediately capture the attention of a potential client and arouse interest in a few seconds.

Still-Life photography requires commitment, dedication, preparation, and experience, which is why it cannot be entrusted to any professional or novice, but to an expert in the study of framing and lighting. The shots must be planned by choosing the right setting, perspective, combinations, light, and colors, with an eye to post-production, i.e. the finalization of the shoot before delivery to the client. We believe in the power of the image, so we offer various photographic sets to best communicate the value and mood of your brand.

We at Studio Concept srl have been working for more than 20 years in the beauty and cosmetic world, and we have carried out thousands of communication and product photography projects in collaboration with the most famous cosmetic brands. For this, we have all the tools available to help to better communicate your product and your brand, also for the realization of perfect still-life product photography. In the following paragraphs, we will provide you with all the useful technical information and advice for taking your first product photography.

What does still life photography mean, and what is it for?

Still life photography derives from the pictorial technique that portrays inanimate objects, in Italian it takes the name of still life since painters used to shoot fruit and vegetables. To get an idea, you can look for the ‘Basket of Fruit’ painted by Caravaggio, which is the most famous still-life work in the world.

Seemingly as painting, still-life photography deals with capturing inanimate objects. This technique is more complex and less immediate than others; in fact, the subjects portrayed will be arranged in a shot assembled taking care of every detail. To better understand the difference between still life and other shots, just think that to photograph a person, an animal, or a landscape, just point and shoot, applying all the necessary techniques, and the subject will be ready to immortalize.

In still-life photography, on the other hand, it will be required to create the set from scratch: as in the painting by Caravaggio, for example, arrange the fruit in the basket so that it is pleasing to the eye.
In the professional field, still-life photography strives to make the products aimed at the sale captivating, whether they are phones, cups, or chicken wings.

In creating an advertisement, the still-life will have to convey a message, as well as present the product at its best.

When preparing to portray a still-life for commercial purposes, you will have to plan the shot, thinking about how the product can best be sold.

More generally, when shooting still life, you have to decide whether to shoot the object alone or insert it in a context, keep in mind everything that will appear in your photo, such as backgrounds, subjects, and how lights and shadows are distributed: all the shots will have to be studied and calculated beforehand if you want to get a good result.

Contact us for your modernization and photo updating works of cosmetic products for e-commerce or catalogs.

How to photograph cosmetic products:

Still-Life photography must meet specific criteria. Unless the customer requests the background in a different color, we usually use white, preferring a non-pure shade because it would reflect too much light. Mirror reflections must be eliminated as much as possible or, in any case, limited, especially when the cosmetic bottles are made of glass or glossy. To control the effect, we use a curtain of light or lighten and darken panels.

To create impactful shots, we photograph cosmetics by choosing soft lighting that doesn’t generate excessive shadows. The product must in any case be reflected in the background to give an idea of consistency and physicality, otherwise, it would end up giving the impression of something unnatural.

The rules are certainly important, but still-life photography, especially for cosmetics, always also has an artistic dimension linked to the taste of the photographer and the client. For example, on metal packaging, it is possible to achieve the chrome effect in many ways, and every photographer has their techniques and equipment. It is essential that the final image is harmonious and that it makes the most of the product and its details. In many cases, the photographic technique and retouching are so advanced that the photo of the final product is more beautiful than the real product.

Furthermore, to obtain perfect images, we ask the customer for new products, preferably still packaged, to prevent even the smallest sign of wear or scratch from being visible in the shot.

Many times, especially for the launch of new products, the final samples of the product are not yet available, but customers need to present the product to the sales network or have to include it in a catalog. In this case, we work by reconstructing the definitive product on a photographic level with a mixed technique of photos and renderings, delivering a realistic result, inserting vector graphics on the product, modifying colors and finishes, recreating polishing, heat, reliefs, etc. And all this for both primary and secondary packs. The result is always a lifelike, truthful rendering, both for simple caption photos on a white background and for emotional photos. You can see it here.

What do I need to photograph the packaging?

Professionally photographing cosmetic packaging requires a lot of creativity and good taste, to be associated with a ton of commitment. For quality images, you need to have adequate equipment such as a camera compatible with the raw format, which is essential in order not to incur quality losses when switching to a memory card.

A macro lens, to be clear from 105 mm and with a maximum aperture of 2.8, allows you to obtain close-up, neutral, and background-free shots while remaining at an adequate distance from the object.

Still-Life photography also requires a good tripod, a lighting set consisting of fixed light lamps, flashes, reflective and translucent umbrellas but also photographic backgrounds in different fabrics and colors and support surfaces of different sizes.

Product photography, therefore, is ill-suited to the concept of “do it yourself”. A mobile phone or a non-professional camera is not capable of producing quality shots, emphasizing the specific properties of a cosmetic.

Studio Concept srl, an agency specialized in Still Life photography, in addition to creating professional images, devotes time to post-production, using sophisticated softwares to improve the appearance of the product, highlighting its physical and compositional characteristics. This is called attention to detail.

Finally, here is a list of all the useful non-essential equipment for a professional still-life photographer:

  • lights and flashes
  • reflective and translucent umbrellas
  • photographic backgrounds in different colors and fabrics
  • tripod
  • support surfaces in different materials

Contact us for your modernization and photo updating works of cosmetic products for e-commerce or catalogs.

Depth of field

The depth of field in still-life photography is usually short, as the lens is close to the subject: for this reason, we always recommend macro lenses. Managing blur is all you need to make a short shot.
Particularly fashionable in the still life field is the Bokey effect, a technique that plans to blur even part of the main subject of the photo and emphasize a single detail.

Lighting in still-life photography

Light is the predominant factor in this kind of photo: it creates more dynamism in the photo and also allows you to convey a message. Artificial light is not essential, even natural light can allow excellent results.
The plays of light serve to illuminate the main subject and detach it from the background. For a great still-life portrait, you need multiple light sources, for example, one illuminating the main subject and one illuminating the background. Even the shadow plays a fundamental role: it can guide the eye towards the point of focus or still hide some mysterious detail. Combining multiple lights allows you to adjust the lighting and achieve the desired effect:

  • the main light is the basis that determines the overall effect of the shot and places the detail you want to capture in the foreground. All other lights will be positioned according to this;
  • side light, usually placed to the side of the camera, emphasizes the shadows, making them more marked and giving the photo more contrast;
  • the light placed behind the subject, called a backlight, moves the shadows toward the lens and is perfect for capturing the shape of the subject;
  • the light from above allows you to highlight the texture of the subject;
  • The light from below is rather unnatural and is appropriate when you want to create a more artistic effect.

Catalog remake for photos of cosmetic products

Specialized in the Beauty & Cosmetics sectors, we at Studio Concept srl, as an agency, have vertical production where photographic production and post-production are one of the many services we offer for the promotion or construction of the image of a cosmetic brand. For our customers, we offer design and graphic creation services for cosmetic lines or packaging, product photography, the creation of product or line folders and catalogs, writing texts, and substantial web developments.

Many companies rely on our team because they have understood that a well-presented cosmetic with attractive packaging, as well as inspiring trust, helps to increase sales. Communicating effectively, and making the most of the visual elements, can make a difference.

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