Product photography is graphic design stupid

I am a photographer but I also consider myself an equal part graphic artist. I view myself this way because my Clients use nearly all of my images as part of some graphic layout. Regardless if I am shooting people or merchandise, seldom an image goes by that I do not edit or add some component.  A large part of my photography business is image editing and graphic design.

As a graphic designer producing product photographs, my responsibilities exceed that of a mere photographer.  Indeed, lighting and imaging are very important, but so is preparing the image in a manner that my customer can use.

As a commercial photographer and graphic designer, I speak both languages. Ironically, many in my field speak only one or neither.  This observation extends to students and graduates from post secondary photography schools. I have met enough “photography professionals” lacking these skills to shake my head.

If you are a photographer, not knowing how to use a camera in manual mode or Photoshop is quite sad; you need it to do your job.  The information is out there and it is quite available. 

Considering I taught myself photography and graphic design via YouTube, books and practice, many graduates or “seasoned professional” should be teaching me a thing or two; unfortunately this is seldom the case.  Like many trades, photography and graphic design is not complex, but you need to put in the time to learn it.

If one is to become a commercial product photographer, you need to have a complete and thorough knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite and graphic design. Not having these core skills will undermine your ability to service your customers. 

Photography is and has always been a craft. New technology has simplified the process but it is not mindless yet; you still need to know what you are doing. As businesses and individuals need practical photographs they can use, having graphic design skills is a fundamental ability required to service your customers.   Since many of my colleagues lack this know how, it’s no wonder that many price in desperation and eventually go away.

The product photographs above are composite image created with two or more images. Building an image like this convincingly requires graphic design expertise.

Even images requiring seemingly little editing may feature a vignette or adjusted colour temperature.