How To Shoot Lifestyle Product Images That Sell

How To Shoot Lifestyle Product Images That Sell

Product photography is about more than just accurately displaying what an item looks like. The most effective product images tell a compelling lifestyle story that connects with customers on a deeper, more emotional level. When done right, lifestyle photography inspires consumers to imagine themselves using the product, aligning with their aspirations and identity. This elicits a powerful desire to purchase.

Lifestyle product photography requires thoughtfully crafting an image through deliberate artistic choices. From selecting an evocative environment, using natural lighting, adding human elements, incorporating props and applying considered composition and posing, photographs must convey context, personality, narratives and more. 

Here, we’ll explore useful tips and techniques for taking your product shots from generic to exceptional. 

The Art of Visual Storytelling

One of the most powerful elements of compelling lifestyle photography is its ability to tell a captivating visual story. Every element in the image, from the models, setting and styling to props and composition, should work together to convey a narrative that speaks to customers.

Before shooting, conceptualize what storyline you want to come across and how to achieve it. For example, if you’re promoting a new apparel line made from sustainable materials, consider showing a young couple wearing the pieces while hiking or camping in nature. This conveys an eco-friendly, adventurous vibe aligned with the products.

Or for a set of luxury kitchen appliances, photograph a family gathered around a Thanksgiving feast with the tools prominently featured. This taps into nostalgic notions of connection and homemade food. Determine what emotions and associations you want to elicit, then craft every detail to align.

Powerful storytelling helps customers envision your product fitting seamlessly into an aspirational life they want. Photos should feel natural, not staged. Leverage real environments, joyful expressions and thoughtful props to form a believable, tangible narrative.

Add Human Elements

Including models in your lifestyle product photography adds crucial context and interest. People using, interacting with or enjoying your products helps customers envision it as part of their life. Carefully select models that represent your target demographic’s age range, style and identity. 

Shaku, a company specializing in high-end accessories and homeware products, is a great example of how products can be styled in a luxurious way to evoke a feeling of individuality. With attention to detail, their elegant selections are showcased to show how to wear the items. This is deliberate and invites customers to see themselves in the images. 

Incorporate natural expressions and body language to create an authentic vibe, like smiling, laughing or focused concentration — avoid stiff, overly posed modeling. Lifestyle images should feel captured in real moments, not staged. Using a range of models with different ages and ethnicities will also help various customers connect with your products and see themselves reflected. Diversity expands your brand’s appeal and encourages more sales

Make Strategic Use of Props

Complement your products and enhance your lifestyle photos by incorporating thoughtful props into the setting. Props help provide context, convey personality and reinforce the story being told. When selecting props, choose items that make sense within the situational narrative and align with the product itself. If showcasing an outdoor grill, incorporate props like platters of food, cooking tools and outdoor furniture. For a desk organizer, include items like pens, notebooks and coffee mugs.

Aim for one to three complementary props. Too many objects can overwhelm the scene and distract from the hero: the product. The main product should take up the most visual weight and be prominently featured. If props overwhelm the frame, the product gets lost. Thoughtfully chosen props add personality and context that makes the product feel like part of a real lifestyle. This helps consumers imagine the product fitting seamlessly into their own lives.

Choose a Meaningful Location

One of the most important choices in lifestyle photography is selecting an appropriate, evocative location. Don’t just photograph your products against a plain white background in a studio. Instead, shoot them in real, tactile environments that reinforce their context and tell a story.

For example, if you’re shooting cookware, photograph it in an active kitchen, resting on a countertop or hanging above an island. Consider viral brand Our Place, and how they make use of color and kitchen or dining room backgrounds to create a certain atmosphere. Select locations that authentically represent spaces your customers would use the products in.

Location choices should align with the vibe and demographic of your brand. A hip startup selling sustainable goods requires a different location sensibility than a luxury brand of cashmere scarves. Carefully match the setting to product and brand identity.

Focus on Natural Lighting

When photographing lifestyle images, avoid harsh studio lighting and instead seek out soft, natural light. Light from sources like windows, open shade or diffused daylight creates a much softer feel than artificial light.

Position products near large windows for attractive diffused light. Photograph outdoors in a shaded area on an overcast day to utilize soft, even light. Explore angles where the sunlight hits the subject indirectly for luminous lighting. You may also want to incorporate directional lighting from the side to add dimension through highlights and shadows. Play with light and shadows to underscore contours and textures in an interesting way.

You can use reflectors and other tools to redirect existing natural light onto darker areas of a scene. But keep it looking natural, not harsh. Editing can also enhance lighting by adjusting contrast, shadows, highlights and more. But avoid overdoing it. The lighting should still feel realistic. Natural light lends an organic, tangible quality that staged studio lighting lacks. 

The impact of well-crafted lifestyle images that truly connect with customers makes the effort worthwhile. Thoughtfully crafted photographs that tap into aspirations, emotions and narratives have the power to speak to consumers on a deeper level. This captures their attention, resonates with their preferences and styling, and ultimately persuades them to purchase.

Avoid generic product shots isolated on white backgrounds. Instead, capture your products within tangible lifestyle contexts using intentional artistic choices meant to inspire. Develop meaningful narratives, convey brand identity and transport customers into an inspirational vision of their life enhanced by your products. With strategic lifestyle photography that connects on an emotional level, you can craft product images that truly sell.

Read next: How Product Images Influence Seasonal Shopping

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