Can Packshot Photography ever be considered interesting?

December 14, 2023

Be warned, this post is probably going to be very boring unless you work in ecommerce. Can Packshot Photography ever be considered interesting? Packshot photography is more of a utilitarian category of photography but that doesn’t mean that it has to be completely bland.

Product photography is very utilitarian in the sense that its job is to sell stock. Product photography can lean into the more creative types of photography with lifestyle shots, flatlays and other visually interesting styles. Pack shots however are very much doing one job – present the product for sale through an ecommerce platform.

The purpose of the packshot is to show the customer what they’re buying. They’re images that will clearly illustrate what will be added to the customer’s basket.

Because of the functional nature of the packshot there is a tendency to be both lazy and safe with the production of these images. Playing it safe is to make sure that the colours are fairly well represented and that the product is sharp and in focus.

Capturing these images ‘safely’ allows for laziness allowing photographers to flood the image with light and deliver against white backgrounds that end up looking a bit 1990s.

Without getting overly technical, packshots are usually photographed with a large f-stop meaning that there’s very little depth of field. There’s a good reason for this – accuracy. When trying to capture the product in its most real form accuracy becomes important.

However, when the human eye looks at something, not everything is in focus. Try it for yourself. Pickup a jar and notice that while you’re focusing on the label in the centre, the edges of the jar aren’t in sharp contrast. You could argue that a little bit of depth or blurring is more accurate.

So maybe there’s room to do things slightly differently with the packshot photography. Add a little depth of field, use a grey background instead of white or maybe even add in some grain to make the images look more tangible.

It’s just a thought. Rather than keep doing things exactly the same as everyone else, it might be time to change things up a little.

Written by Paul Tschornow

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