Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Image Critique #4

Todays image was submitted by an on-line retailer that goes by the name WaterRose, who has a shop on Etsy.com, which is a collection of artisans that sell their hand made goods. Product photography is a huge deal for these retailers. When a potential customer cannot pick something up in their hands and hold it, feel it, and examine it, the photograph becomes your main selling point. Typically, a photograph is only selling itself, but in this circumstance, the photograph is responsible for selling what is "in" the photograph.

Here is the image that WaterRose submitted:


The first thing I want to talk about is the background. While I'm not opposed to text as a background for this type of photo, I think I would like it just a little more out of focus so the viewer isn't trying to read it. You really want them concentrating on the product here. I would also slide the book all the way to the top of the frame so:

A. The cuff doesn't break the plane of the edge of the book (think about a portrait and how the nose shouldn't break the plane of the face)


B. There isn't a gap between the top of the book and the edge of the frame, adding another element to the image that is unnecessary.

The image appears to have an overall green caste to it, which in an "art" image, could be intentional, but in a product image, you should be rendering the image as close to reality as you can get it. Maybe this adjusted image is closer, and maybe it's not, but I think it would be.


I feel like the main piece in the image is a bit distorted due to the close proximity of the lens to the subject. For this particular shot, I think I would back up a little bit and use a longer lens to compress the image and reduce the distortion of the cuff.

I would give it (the cuff) just a little more room around the edges, letting it "breathe" and reducing the amount of "tension" created by the amputations. In many circumstances, tension in an image can be a good thing, but when dealing with a product, I'm not sure that it is such a good idea.

You've filled the frame with your product, and that is a very good thing. Nobody will be mistaken as to what you are highlighting here. The lighting is also very nice, and lighting is no easy trick.

Bottom Line: It's a nice job and only needs a few tweaks to be really very good. If you can't adjust the color of your image after the fact, make sure that you are using the proper white balance. If you don't have a longer lens, just back up. Since this is a product shot for the web, it's only going to be 72DPI and fairly small overall, so making a moderate crop to get it to where you want it to be isn't a big deal.

Submissions for critique are always accepted. Attach your image to an email that says "Image Critique" in the subject line and I will get to it. Keep shooting.


Cicada Studio said...

This is a really informative series, Scott. I enjoy it very much.

Garrity Photography said...

I have tried product photography before. It is not easy so I do give kudoes to the person who submitted this image. I do admit that I tried to read the background before I concentrated on the image. Thanks again for your time Scott and the information always makes me think more about my own stuff.

Jeremy Shane said...


I thought when I first looked at the picture before the critique started that this was a decent artistic shot. I was surprised to read that it was a product shot. I could see it as an extra or decorative product shot more than the main picture one would view to purchase the item.

But if it were the main image, I agree seeing all of the piece would be key and I definitely thought the image looked greenish and needed sharpening even when I thought it was just an artistic picture.

Good catch about the writing needing to be more out of focus, you always catch something I would miss. I would have liked to see more of the product in the focal plane though.

Walk in the Woods said...

I've stopped by a few times and thought I should pause this time to say -

I really enjoy your blog! This entry really resonated with me.

Rosalie said...

What a great and useful idea! Although I think I'd be scared to submit mine -- I feel like such an amateur.

jkziel said...

very informative. photos of my products are by far my biggest hurtle!

Start To Finish Supplies said...

There is some great advice here that I am going to take note of. Photography is a real struggle for me and you are right, when you are selling products over the internet, it is all about the photography. Very well written article.

weescreamvintage said...

you are so right. you have to really keep trying to take excellent photographs. i take my critiques seriously.


thats my shop, i had to retake all my photos...or what i had in stock to white.

Darlene Martin said...

great blog scott.