The first thing you discover about commercial advertising photography is the product, and how fantastic it looks. Profitable and efficient commercial advertising photographers will be able to create an image which stands out for all the correct reasons, grabs the eye of the target market and communicates the proper message virtually instantly.
But whilst it’s easy to admire the look of the product and the skill of the photographer, in most cases commercial advertising pictures is not about what you see, however about what you don’t see. You would possibly think that if you look at an advertising image what you are seeing is what the photographer saw, however that’s invariably not the case.
Of course, all of us know that there are tricks of the trade and many individuals will immediately assume that any image will have been doctored utilizing a graphics device such as Adobe’s Photoshop, and whilst this would be the case, there’s far more going on than meets the eye. One of the first things to understand in commercial advertising is that what you see is sort of actually not quite what you’ll see if you had been looking on the product your self in a shop.
Lighting, the atmosphere and plenty of 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 example, if you happen to have been looking at a television in a shop then you definately’d probably either see an entire lot of distracting reflections within the screen, or the television could be on and you would be watching a picture. In a product image although you’re either going to see a screen that does not have any distracting reflections in it, or it will look as if it’s switched on and displaying a picture.
The trouble is that should you take a photograph of a television, either switched on or off, neither result will look very realistic. So how do product photographers make their images seem like so realistic, whilst still being fully completely 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 features a 360 degree backmaterial to remove any doubtlessly distracting reflections, or they will edit the image afterwards, replacing the screen with a shaded black rectangle which looks realistic, but which doesn’t even exist as part of the screen in real life. However how about taking a photograph of a television that’s switched on?
If you’ve ever tried this you may know that the result will look horrible- very fuzzy and half missing. This is because the camera lens sees what your eyes and brain cannot see – the fact that the image on the screen is only an illusion created by rapidly flickering lights. So professional photographers will often 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 anticipate it to, regardless that you know that that’s not how it would really look if you took a photograph of it.
Efficient commercial advertising photography allows us to be fooled, even after we know that what we are looking at cannot be real, despite looking very real. The art of illusion and of fooling the eye is a subtle one, because consumers will not be eager about an image which has been obviously doctored, yet will be enticed by an image which they know can’t be completely real. If you’re unsure how you can achieve the appropriate balance then it’s far safer to leave it in the palms of the experts.
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