Lifestyle product photography is a kind of product photography that is aimed to show your product within a styled scene, with/without models, to demonstrate the main purpose of this product and how a potential customer can use it. Want to start taking lifestyle product images like professionals? This guide will give you a complete roadmap of lifestyle product photography tips to get started.
We can distinguish two main types of product photography: product photography on the white background and product lifestyle photography.
So, the traditional product photography on the white background is about a certain object which is photographed on a simple white/black background, in other words, a classical Amazon product photography. The subject is shown from various angles. So, you can see the product from all sides before buying. If you want to take unusual photos on the white background that you can really move, read our 360 product photography guide and start taking photos like pros.
Lifestyle product photography shows the product in real life situations. At the same time, I do not cut and paste it on a white background. This is a scene so that your customers can see the product in more detail. You may try to add a "human" element to get the attention of the client. For example, selling an alarm clock, you can set it on a bedside table and even add a sleeping human to the background. You should use everyday objects to create an authentic environment. There are 4 ways you can take lifestyle product images:
Images of the product that are placed on the table with or without lightbox setup. Usually photographers add special custom or DIY photography props for creative and stylish look.
Looks like a tabletop product photography, but has one feature: the photo is taken from above.
It is a stylized photo of your product that is shown in the conditions of its use. In addition, such photos will add a "wow" effect that will make your item more attractive and stylish.
These are pictures with people. Such photography perfectly demonstrates the items that can be worn and also perfectly shows the size of the product.
So, why is lifestyle photography so popular today? It perfectly tells the "story" of the product and also establishes a visual connection with the clients. It doesn’t only focus on the target audience but also motivates to buy other products you have on the website. Please note that context plays an important role in lifestyle product photos.
Make a detailed product lifestyle photography plan, you need to define the sphere of application of your images. Besides, when you are engaged in the lifestyle photography, get ready to spend much time and effort to arrange the product in the best way possible.
There are Some Questions You Need to Answer:
In my case, I’ve chosen shoe photography. Here’s how their regular product photos in the lightbox look like:
Before you start working, you’d better find and clarify the product styling definition on the web. It’s a great idea to visit some professional marketing websites, where you can find interesting lifestyle photography ideas that will work beneficially for your product. Don’t underestimate the sites of the local companies, which are focused on the customers in your area and use their best e-commerce lifestyle product photography techniques.
Some photographers perceive it as being completely needless to use additional lifestyle product photography props. Though you have to focus solely on the product, accurately chosen props will help convey the story and represent the item in an appealing way. As food photography props you can use a stump plank or acrylic ice cubes, as jewelry photography props you can use an acrylic holder set or fruits. You can also experiment and choose the contrast color of the background that will help single the product out. Take care to prepare diverse types of product photography props beforehand.
Every product photographer, who works in a studio, knows that the best background for such images is purely white. But if you deal with the lifestyle product photography, you’d better choose more typical settings for your product. For example, you can perform shooting in a bathroom, kitchen or any other place in the house.
I think that lifestyle photography requires less equipment than the standard product photography, especially, if you are going to use natural light. Here is the list of the things that I use for my lifestyle product photography.
Powerful photography gear is in the "heart" of the photography, but it can be tricky for beginners. Mind, that you do not need to waste a lot of money on high-tech equipment.
I think that you should not waste time and money on buying an expensive camera with a large set of different lenses. Believe me, you don't need a 24-megapixel DSLR camera to take great photos. As a rule, such equipment is used only for the billboards shots. If it isn’t your style, value your money! For example, I got great pictures using only iPhone 7. (View more about how to take iPhone product photography) The 12 megapixels DSLR camera is enough. You can also get amazing photos, using the latest smartphone model.
What kind of camera do you need if you are reluctant to use a smartphone? I would just start out with whatever you have handy and see what the results are. Also, I would recommend paying attention to excellent Sony Alpha a6000 and Canon EOS Rebel T7i.
Both cameras are not expensive and great for the high resolution product lifestyle photography. It is worth mentioning that the first model is a point and shoot camera, the second one is a DSLR.
Each camera lens is designed for different purposes. If you are not going to photograph the subject from a mile away, do not buy a telephoto lens. Similarly, you do not need to use macro lenses if you sell big products. So, I can recommend Canon EF 50mm f / 1.8 STM, appropriate for a variety of products. This is a cheap and at the same time high-quality lens. In addition, it is an excellent choice for all photographers, who offer professional lifestyle product photography services. Tamron AF 18-200mm F / 3.5-6.3 Di-II VC is another powerful and budgetary lens that I really like. You can hardly find the similar camera with diverse functions at such a price.
Light Reflector / Diffuser
You need it for creating portrait photos, using natural light. It will be difficult to use it without a special stand.
Affordable Light Panels
LED light panels are a great investment, as these devices can regulate temperature and brightness. These features are great for indoor product lifestyle photography. You can also use additional tripods and racks to fix these gear.
I think you will agree that the camera should be stationary if you shoot a stationary object. Why? In such a way you’ll be able to avoid the distortion that occurs during movement. I recommend using a comfortable and lightweight tripod for lifestyle product photography while shooting outdoors. Remember, a tripod must be reliable and stable.
Of course, you do not need to waste money on expensive additional equipment but some light sources may be very useful.
If you really want to learn how to do product lifestyle photography, you need to start from the very basics. First of all, make your product “photo ready”. If you’re going to take jewelry photography, clean all gems and remove dust to look shiny. Prepare it in advance, remove all unnecessary tags, give it a clean and repair, if necessary. If you want the product to look perfect in the photo, try to make it so in a real life. You also need to steam or iron the product, but do it on the day when you plan to organize the shooting.
The secret of the successful product photography companies is the way they perform shooting. Though auto mode attracts lots of beginners, the most skillful and experienced ones understand that it isn’t the best option for the product photography lifestyle. In this case, you need to control everything yourself and set the camera in accordance with the shooting conditions.
Customers always want to see as many details as possible. When they visit your online store, they wish to study product from each angle, so you need to know how to create such shots. Besides, in such a way you will prevent lots of additional questions.
Eye-Level – it is the most typical angle, which is very familiar to all people. Actually, it is the way we see products in real life. That’s why such an angle is very beneficial for the business lifestyle photography and online marketing.
High Angle – the camera is placed slightly above the product and you take photos from this position.
Low Angle – the product is photographed from below, so the buyers will see its lower part.
Bird’s Eye – the product is shown directly from above. Thus, you can concentrate on a particular element, which is one of the most popular product photography techniques.
Slanted – tilt the camera to one side and place the product at an angle. In such a way, you may create the impression of movement, which perfectly suits footwear.
If you understand how to shoot product photography, you are only halfway through to the final result. When your shooting is finished, proceed to picture editing to achieve the perfect look. Your task to enhance the photo, make it look professional but not fake! You need to configure the make parameters, crop and straighten the picture. If you have some doubts on how to represent the product the best way possible, check any product photography tutorial by professional editorial photographers. Actually, you can use the best free photo editors or download paid image editing softwares, but I’ve chosen the most effective and powerful ones to make your photos WOW.
The best photo editing software for professional product photo retouching: color correction, background enhancement/replacement/removal, face/body retouching, creative photo manipulations, etc.
A good photo editing softwares for making deep color correction and remove small blemishes.
GIMP is very similar to Photoshop, but is totally free. The dashboard has a standard tools layout and you will also manage to cope with diverse photo retouching tasks. The only disadvantage is connected with several limited photo retouching functions. Read a full GIMP review to understand the difference between Photoshop and GIMP.
There are some lifestyle photography tips, which you can use to make your pictures look professional.
When you frame the shots while photographing, remember to take several broad photos with empty space. In such a way, it will be possible to add a logo, ads or a brand name to the shot, as well as to realize creative product photography ideas.
Don’t take images too tight or you won’t be able to crop them and straighten. It is advisable to leave some space around the edges. This is especially relevant for the photography for Amazon products, which must be of a fixed size and shape.
Don’t overdo with the props and never include other brands/logos in your photos. You may not only distract the attention from the main product but also get some problems.
This is one of the most effective product photography techniques, which you should master to compose the images professionally.
Not only an artist can use colors as powerful tools, but also a photographer can combine them to achieve astonishing results. If the colors match each other, you will be able to emphasize the product and create an interesting story. Check any lifestyle photography blog or find some tips of the experienced specialists, to see how different colors work together. Actually, each color evokes particular emotions and feelings, so use such an approach to attract the consumers.
Shooting in a full sun is really a bad choice because of harsh light and shadows. Choose morning or early evening, to get natural and soft light.
If you have to work at midday, try to choose some shadowed place. Thus, clouds will function as a diffuser and the light will be much softer. This is especially effective for the summer beauty lifestyle product photography.
Bounce the light and make it less harsh, using a diffuser. So, you’ll be able to shoot in shade and your photos won’t be flat.
Not only the direct sunrays but also the overcast conditions are problematic for the lifestyle product photography. To improve the situation, you’ll need to regulate the aperture, shutter speed, and other parameters. Make the most of what you have.
You may need to lie on the ground to get non-standard shots. So, put on the suitable clothes.
With these lifestyle photography tips, you can create awesome product images even from the first time. They can be used for different products, so experiment as much as you wish.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.