The first thing you discover about commercial advertising photography is the product, and how fantastic it looks. Successful and effective commercial advertising photographers will be able to create an image which stands out for all the suitable reasons, grabs the attention of the target market and communicates the fitting message nearly instantly.
But whilst it’s easy to admire the look of the product and the skill of the photographer, in most cases commercial advertising images is just not about what you see, however about what you do not see. You might think that when you look at an advertising image what you’re seeing is what the photographer noticed, but that’s invariably not the case.
Of course, we all know that there are tricks of the trade and many people will instantly assume that any image will have been doctored utilizing a graphics software akin to Adobe’s Photoshop, and whilst this may be the case, there’s far more happening than meets the eye. One of the first things to appreciate in commercial advertising is that what you see is almost certainly not quite what you’ll see in case you have been looking at the product yourself in a shop.
Lighting, the surroundings and many little known tricks of the trade all come into play, serving to to create an illusion which doesn’t just look real, it truly looks more real in some cases than it would in real life. For instance, if you have been looking at a television in a shop you then’d probably either see a complete lot of distracting reflections within the screen, or the television can be on and you’d be watching a picture. In a product image though you’re either going to see a screen that does not have any distracting reflections in it, or it will look as though it’s switched on and displaying a picture.
The trouble is that if you take a photograph of a television, either switched on or off, neither consequence will look very realistic. So how do product photographers make their images look like so realistic, whilst still being fully different to how a traditional photograph of a television would look?
With a view to take a photograph of a television switched off commercial advertising photographers will either have a studio which includes a 360 degree backmaterial to remove any doubtlessly distracting reflections, or they will edit the image afterwards, changing the screen with a shaded black rectangle which looks realistic, yet which does not even exist as part of the screen in real life. But how about taking a photograph of a television that is switched on?
If you happen to’ve ever tried this you will know that the outcome will look terrible- very fuzzy and half missing. This is because the camera lens sees what your eyes and brain can’t see – the truth that the image on the screen is only an illusion created by quickly flickering lights. So professional photographers will usually take a screen seize from a computer and then superimpose that onto the photograph of the screen to improve the quality. The final image will look just as you count on it to, despite the fact that you know that that is not how it would really look for those who took a photograph of it.
Efficient commercial advertising photography allows us to be fooled, even after we know that what we’re looking at can’t be real, despite looking very real. The art of illusion and of fooling the eye is a subtle one, because consumers will not be involved in an image which has been clearly doctored, yet will be enticed by an image which they know can’t be utterly real. In case you’re not sure tips on how to achieve the appropriate balance then it’s far safer to go away it within the arms of the experts.
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