QUESTION:
I am speaking with several photographers about setting up product shots for the website, and had a quick question for you. Do you have a sense of how you would expect the product shots to be framed for the website? I will likely go with a white background but am unsure what to tell photographers in terms of whether they should expect to be shooting the product shots as squares, rectangles, etc.

ANSWER:

It is hard to say this early in the process (I’m just starting the logo for this particular website), but here are some general thoughts:

You want your photos to communicate your brand message, just like everything else in your design. But, since this particular brand has several messages (as many brands tend to!), there are a few ways you could go.

Rectangles usually look more sophisticated, which goes with the “keepsake/ luxury” part of your brand. Squares tend to look more hip and modern. So, it depends which way you want to go – either one could work.

In other associations:
Rectangular framing: Fine art, family photos, picture frames, albums, books, magazines
Square: Youth, perfection, balance, needs to be cropped, so that means that additional work was done

So, the framing of the photo is only a small part of the communication. The framing can communicate different things based on what the content of the photo also says.

You could ask the photographer what they think will look best, too – part of that will depend on the product/model styling and posing. Be sure to pick a photographer with experience posing models and styling products to communicate the overall brand message. The easy way to tell if that’s the case up-front is to look at their portfolio; they shouldn’t have a portfolio where all the photos look exactly the same. Then, ask them about the brand or campaign message that they were trying to reinforce through the photos – and how they accomplished that.

And, I do recommend white backgrounds – as long as they’re not too white. Having a little shadow or texture in the background will keep it from looking sterile. Since “cleanness” in that sense isn’t a part of your brand, then having some shading is what I would recommend. It will warm up the photo and make the product/model look like they’re not floating in space.