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The Pros and Cons of Shooting your Product on a White Background

Shooting products against a pure white background has been a staple of product photography for a long time and it has a lot going for it.

  • It is simple to pull off.
  • It gives a bright open look.
  • White conveys cleanliness and purity which is great for kitchen items, medical equipment etc.
  • Most photographers have a formula for how they like to shoot objects against a white background so they can recreate the same look over and over
  • If your product is small enough you can probably do it yourself with your cell phone.
  • It leaves a lot of space to place text and logos.
  • It easily lends it's self to different crops and blends readily into websites that are mostly white these days.
  • It isolates the object meaning all the attention is given to the product.
  • And here is the big one. When you use it for a catalogue shoot it makes it very easy to compare one item to another.

  • So should you shoot your product on a white background?

    That depends. The big problem with shooting your product against a white background is that as soon as you do it your product becomes a commodity. If your strictly trying to compete on price, or some thing not directly related to your product like free shipping or convenient locations then this isn't an issue.

    The problem with plain white backgrounds is it eliminates the ability to tell a story. It limits the way you can present an item via lighting, props, models etc.

    There is a reason you are never going to see a Ferrari advertisement with one of their cars shot on a pure white background. Ferrari is all about the story, whether it is the legendary racing history, the up scale life style and stature or the incredible engineering. None of that is conveyed by placing their car against a white background. But show it at a race track, with a celebrity or parked in front of a mansion or yacht then your telling a story and adding to the value of the brand. Ferrari has been voted the most iconic brand for decades because they live, eat, sleep, drink and breath this philosophy.

    You know who else knows this? Amazon. Their goal is simple, squeeze every last penny they can out of every sale. You want an upscale image for your product so you can push the margin up? Yeah, no. Upscale means more money which is not what Amazon wants. It doesn't matter to them what product sells as long as it sells on Amazon and they get their slice. So every one shoots on a white background. Every one becomes a commodity which helps squeeze the margin. Don't believe me? Go do a search for watches on Amazon. Just by looking at the add tell me which one is up scale and which one isn't. Once people view you as a commodity you are never going to change that. It will be easier to completely re-brand.

    Don't get me wrong. People can make good money on Amazon and if you have a unique product it can offer a platform for a startup to reach more people than they could on their own. Amazon also has a very fierce grip on online sales making it very difficult to run a successful independent online campaign. That may change as the big online companies have to answer for their abuses to regulators around the world. But in the mean time this is the world we are in.

    So should your next product photography shoot be on studio white? That is a call only you can make. It depends on what your goals are for your product, your brand and your company. But it is some thing you should definitly think about before you commit to your next campaign.

    Conjured Images is a video production and photography company located in beautiful Vancouver British Columbia Canada. We want to help make your next advertising campaign as successful as possible. Use our contact page and lets discuss how we can make that happen.

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