Stunning Photography: Bringing Packaging Design to Life

We have been lucky enough to work with photographer extraordinaire Stef from SCG Photography for several years now, and no matter what style of photography we need, she delivers!
It’s crucial for product and packaging photography to capture the time, effort and attention to detail we and our clients put into creating beautiful and commercially-effective packaging design, and so we asked Stef to give us a few insights into how she does it!


“We are lucky these days to have so much choice – gosh that phrase makes me sound (and feel) old – but it’s true. When it comes to products on the market, we’ve never had such an extensive range of really beautifully designed products and brands, all carefully created to tease at our senses and lure us in to try them.

Whenever a brand or design agency approach me to shoot packaging for them, there is always an initial conversation to establish what the shots will be used for. You might be surprised at how many different types of shots can be required for one piece of packaging!

The brand or agency (like Design Activity) often have a view on what they’re looking for, but this is usually followed by that magic phrase “just make it look good, we want this to stand out from the crowd” – you mean the crowd of other brands and packaging all looking to do the same thing? Oh, ok, no pressure then!

And that’s the challenge isn’t it – making a piece of packaging look as attractive as it can possibly be in a single image.

But not just one image for use in one channel, packaging photography spans a range of different requirements and styles, and in each instance the packaging must not only look stunning, but consistent in colour and quality across all the different shots.

This is a really important consideration when launching a new product and so I wanted to share some examples of the different types of shots to consider, which will hopefully help you create a bank of useful and consistent imagery for your brand or product launch.


1. What goes on must be cut-out

Some photographs are required to be printed onto the packaging itself. This depends on what type of product you’re selling but is often the case for consumable products that include a natural substance such as fresh fruit or veg.  The layout and composition for these is usually very specific to fit the design, but a photographer can use their lighting skills to make the subject zing.

2. It’s all white dear

These are the most asked for photographs.

Simple but well-lit shots of packaging on a plain white background. It might sound easy but often you are dealing with highly reflective or super matt material so to really show the packaging off in its best light can take some quite intricate lighting set-ups.

Sometimes the packaging design is so minimal this is almost impossible to do, but attention to the detail is important, and sometimes just the inclusion of a simple drop reflection on white Perspex can add that little extra interest to a very simple pack.

3. Do you really style it?

There is often a need for lifestyle shots, showing the packaging design in more everyday scenarios. These show the product in situ, being used in a real-life situation – bringing the product to life for use in advertising and editorial.

This is an exercise in ‘putting yourself in a consumers shoes’ and carefully honing the shot parameters from there, to come up with some interesting solutions to show off the product.

Usually, these are the shots that help define the target audience for a product so it’s really important through these images to convey exactly who might be buying the product and what they would use it for.

4. So real it’s surreal

These shots are where a photographer comes into their own and can really use their creativity and imagination to create a styled shot reflecting what this product aspires to be and in turn, what type of person would aspire to want it.

These are beautifully composed and subtly lit packaging shots with props that may reflect something about the product or it’s ingredients but are shown in a very “un-real” way, often using shot composites in very “styled” scenarios.

Usually for use in advertising or product launches to create a buzz or excitement around the brand and its visual identity.

These photographs can really push the boundaries of reality and create some engaging and interesting imagery that can help define a brand.

As with most aspects of the creative process, photography should be a collaboration between photographer, design agency and client. Allowing each party to input their creative ideas, alongside mandatory requirements, will ensure your brand has a bank of stunning, purpose-ready and consistent imagery available to bring your products and packaging design to life use across all marketing channels.”


Find out more about Stef and SCG Photography here.