Your quick guide to improving advertising photography

Posted on Dec 11th 2014

Advertising photography has been a part of life since the 1850’s but it wasn’t for another 100 years, when the technology developed to accommodate mass reproductions, that advertising photography really became prevalent.

Advertising is now an excepted part of everyday life, on our TV’s and roadsides, in our mobile apps, in our magazines and as part of our search engine usage. When competing for visibility and engagement in such a competitive arena, it is imperative your advertising photography is outstanding, innovative and impactful and conveys the message of the advert.

This is a big ask from a single image which has to resonate in a split second. This is where we come in – we have produced a guide to help you get your advertising photography spot on.

Use of colours

The use of different colours in advertising can have a big impact on the success of your advertising campaign. The brighter the colour the more it will stand out, right? Wrong!

What if your advert is surrounded by lots of other colours and images? Or, what if it appears alongside other colourful and bright adverts? It won’t stand out at all.

This is said to be part of the reason the trend to use simplistic, plain (often white) backgrounds with a single coloured image in the centre developed. Car adverts tend to use this type of colouring in their advertising photography. This use of a single colour theme in the middle of a white background draws the viewer’s eye to the centre of the advert and to the product itself. This type of photography provides little distraction from surroundings or other content within the advert itself.

Other uses of colour in advertising photography can come from using specific colour themes to evoke specific emotional responses. This is covered further on in the post and makes for quite interesting reading. 

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Use of colours image

Out of focus

The use of focus in advertising can be quite interesting and can create some really innovative imagery. For this reason alone, your advert will stand out as being ‘something different’.

However, the biggest benefit we have found to using focusing in advertising photography, is that it draws and directs the viewer’s eye to the part of the advert you really want them to focus on. The human eye can be quite lazy and won’t try to engage with an out of focus image, it will default to the easiest part of the image it can interpret. Thus giving the advertiser and the photography a little control over how the image is interpreted. 

Conveying the right message

It is essential that the advertising image and the advertising message complement each other and don’t fight for the viewers’ attention.

There is nothing more frustrating about an advert than if you think ‘WOW, that’s a great picture…but what is it advertising?’

The best way to overcome this problem is to establish, in the photography brief, exactly what the adverts objective is and exactly what is required from the imagery used in the adverts.

Be creative

The more creative your brief allows you to be the better – however, being controversial or subversive for the sake of it can lead to a failed advertising campaign.

Don’t be afraid to bring props into your advertising photography to give some perspective and interest to the products. But don’t let the props take centre stage - they are there to compliment and not engage in their own right. Good examples of this can be found in our latest cosmetics advertising photography.

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Be creative image

Showing your products in unusual situations and in unlikely circumstances can also lead to some creative ideas being produced but the same warning applies – don’t let the creativity upstage the product or message of the advert.

It is best to brain storm your creativity with your photographer before you start to avoid any wasted time or photography.

Be edgy

Similar to being creative, don’t be afraid to be edgy or controversial with your advertising imagery. Including a topical taboo into your adverts can be a really effective way of resonating with your audience as it will make your adverts the topic of conversations and not just a passive advert. A great example of this was when United Colours of Benetton used images of models from many different countries and cultures at a time when racism was very much in the news. 

Be accessible

Understanding how your adverts are going to be seen by your target audience is crucial to a successful advertising campaign. There are now many different formats and platforms to advertising campaigns which mean your photography is going to be seen in different ways by different people.

You need to think about the channels your advert is going to be used on. Social media is a growing platform for advertisers but many companies don’t consider that the majority of user’s access social media via their smartphones. This means the screen size, and therefore their advert, is going to be relatively small. A highly detailed image will not have as much impact as a less cluttered one in this situation.

Engage on an emotional level

There have been many studies conducted over the years regarding colours and emotional response. However, there is still some controversy around it as there is so little consistency from the results of the research. Some studies show colours, such as yellow, can evoke a particular emotional response such as optimism but other studies show there is more to colour responsiveness such as gender and age.

However, this does not stop advertisers trying to make an emotional connection or elicit an emotional response from their target audience.

We hope this has given you some inspiration and some helpful tips to make your advertising photography, and campaign, as successful as possible.