The hidden potential of packshot photography

Are you stuck in the seemingly never-ending ritual of contacting buyers but never hearing back? You are not alone.

Christian Skelton
Written by Christian Skelton
Client Director

Most buyers receive hundreds of product pitches every week and barely get time to glance at them, let alone look at them in detail.

If you are one of the lucky ones and the buyer does respond, as a small producer, you could be seen as an outside risk and not taken seriously. By contrast, the likes of Unilever or a Kraft Heinz will already have the buyer's ear and ridiculous marketing budgets to boot!

Even so, it’s not all doom and gloom. Just like a supertanker on the open ocean, the bigger you are, the longer it takes to change course. Often stuck in their ways and constrained by bureaucracy, they are averse to risk and will always play it safe.

Executing even the most essential brand elements to a higher standard will help you stand out to buyers, add personality and a genuine story to your brand and you are on to a winner. Authenticity, creativity and personality are often areas where the corporates struggle and you should try to exploit these weaknesses in everything you do.

Take product packshots – often overlooked and unloved, a packshot really does say a thousand words. They are usually the first time a buyer will see your product long before they get a chance to try a sample, so it’s crucial to make an excellent first impression. Good product photography will convey the quality of a product, the humour and personality behind the brand; hint at the ingredients, and even give context to your brand backstory.

Lousy photography, on the other hand, will do nothing for your brand except undermine all of your hard work and ensure your product doesn’t get noticed by buyers.

Most producers underestimate the importance of packshot photography. They tend to see packshots as a necessity – part of the process of launching a new product – when, in fact, they are one of your most essential brand assets. Every touchpoint between your business and your customers affects your brand, and your packshots are no exception to this rule.

Packshots must form the basis of your sales pitch to demonstrate the quality of your products and back up your credibility as a producer. They are one of your best opportunities to make an excellent first impression. Most wholesale catalogues are stuffed like festive turkeys with mediocre packshots, investing in exceptional packshots will position your brand head and shoulders above the competition.

On digital channels such as Amazon, packshots are even more critical. Your packshots will feature on your product pages, category pages, bestseller lists and more, often seen by hundreds of thousands of potential customers. The old adage you ‘buy with your eyes’ has never been more relevant.

So how can you improve your packshot photography?

Whilst we would always suggest you hire an experienced food and drink photographer, we have also put together the following points to help steer you in the right direction:

1. Focus on your product

Photograph your product on a plain background. White is often a requirement for most wholesale and online channels, so if you do plan to use colour backgrounds, make sure you check with your customers first. If you use a coloured background, remember you want your product to be the focus of your packshots, not your background. So use a background colour that compliments your product rather than drawing attention from it.

2. Oh crop!

A bit of a no brainer, but still worth covering: make sure that your product or anything of importance is not cropped out of the image. You will be amazed at how many packshots on Amazon don’t do this! If you don’t have access to a tool like Photoshop you can use an online tool such as https://picresize.com/ to crop or resize your images, just make sure you then save your images at the highest quality possible.

3. No one wants pixelated mayonnaise

Remember to save for print and web separately. Your wholesale customers will not be best pleased if you supply them web-ready 72dpi images for print, plus no one will buy pixelated mayonnaise!

4. Lights, camera, condiment

Use good lighting for a clear, crisp image. Whilst you want to create highlights and shadows to add depth to your product, making these too harsh can mask product labels and features. If you don’t have access to expensive lighting equipment, you can always use natural light from a window on a sunny day to create attractive highlights.

5. Use your best samples

Unless you’re like us and enjoy spending hours in Photoshop, remember to use the most pristine samples available for photography. Check your labels for imperfections, your glass for air bubbles or oil stains, and your cans for dents. You will be amazed at how many products turn up for photography with wonky scratched labels. Remember your packshots are usually the first time a buyer will see your product, so it’s crucial to make an excellent first impression.

6. Make it pop

Don’t forget about image editing! We’re not talking fake lips or hip shaving; image editing is an essential process for even the best photography. Whether it’s colour correcting, levelling or more complex compositing, image editing is what ensures the colours in your packshots are consistent between shots, your highlights and mid-tones are correct, and your whites aren’t overexposed.

7. Ask for help

If you’re not sure about your product packshots, or you feel they could do with a bit of a makeover drop us a line. We live and breathe packshot photography and we would be more than happy to record you a quick video critique of your packshots.