The Perfect Packshot
Updated: May 18, 2019
The subtle art of creating the perfect product packshot is a highly sought after skill, but what does it entail?
What is a Packshot?
A packshot (also: pack shot) is a video or photograph of a product that it usually includes all or part of the product packaging or props associated with product. For example, a product image depicting a bottle of spicy hot sauce may also include a composition of some of the sauce’s key ingredients, like chilies or fresh onions laid next to the bottle itself, or potentially the box that the product comes in.
“It’s true that a picture speaks a thousand words, but that doesn’t mean that a product image does... ”
So, why are pack shots important?
It’s true that a picture speaks a thousand words, but that doesn’t mean that a product image does. Often products are made for functionality or simply to be cost effective, but do little in the way of advertising aside from colourful packaging or clever wording. Packshots can give product photos a way to invoke a number of emotional or physiological responses in a potential customer (like drooling over a picture of their favourite food!), ultimately making them more likely to buy the product. In short, it’s an advertising tool used in professional photography circles to help the customer better connect to the product, and therefore more likely to buy the product.
What makes a good packshot?
There are traditionally two types of product pack shots used in product photography. There’s a traditional “scene”, where a product is placed in a staged environment (often along with props), so that the consumer can form an association to the occasion or time a product should be used. A good example would be to picture a shampoo bottle covered in beads of water, back dropped by bathroom tiles and sat next to some soap.
The second type of product pack shot attempts to describe the product, but clearly doesn’t contain a situation found in real life. A good example would be to take our shampoo bottle again, but this time picture it next to its key ingredients, like coconuts, mango or a fresh sprig of mint.
In either case, the photographer must attempt to compose an image or scene that both represents the product and also attempts to connect with the user on an emotional level. Why an “emotional level” we hear you cry? If you want to delve into the theory then Michael Harris, CEO of Insight Demand, has published several articles about how consumers “Buy On Emotion and Justify with Logic”, which just so happens to be a topic that is also supported by the field of neuroscience.
“Product imagery and photography is no longer about just showing what your product can do, it’s now about invoking the innermost desires of the consumer... ”
With such a competitive online marketplace in the modern world it’s little wonder that there are companies that specialise in constructing the absolute best ways to directly convert the casual observer into a lifelong customer. Product imagery and photography is no longer about just showing what your product can do, it’s now about invoking the innermost desires of the consumer. Crack that, and you’re one step closer to being a business mogul.
How do I beat the competition with my packshot?
So, you think you have the science of creating a packshot figured out and your product photography would even earn the respect of Ansel Adams himself. But how do you make your packshot product image standout from all the others out there? Why not make it interactive with 360 degree photography? 360 images are the future of online product images and advertisement. They allow a user to click, drag and view the product from all angles as if it were right in front of you in the store. Adding packshot props to this kind of shot makes it infinitely more intriguing for the user and has been proven to dramatically increase sales when compared to 2D product photography.