A hand is holding a bottle of spray.

Guide to beauty product photography

Beauty product photography is an art – you need to capture the product in its best light and show how it looks and feels. With so many new cosmetic brands appearing online, it’s important to stand out and have high-quality visuals for your website or app. Here’s the Pocket guide to what makes good beauty photography.

Two jars of face cleanser on a blue background.

Branding and market value

There are a plethora of cosmetic brands online, and breaking into the space as a new start-up can be daunting. How do you convince people of your product’s value, when they don’t know it yet? Professional, high resolution images capture the product in an eye-catching way, which eventually makes people want to buy it. The goal of cosmetics photography can vary from one brand to the next, but the overall goal is the same: presenting the item is the most impactful way. There are some tips specific to photographing beauty products, which the Pocket team have used in our many projects with brands like Skinny Tan, Yardley and Soap & Glory.

Showing what customers want to see

The ultimate aim of cosmetics photography is to capture your audience’s attention – you need to give them reason to go and look closer at your product(s). To do this, you first need to establish the purpose of your images – are they for social media, a website, or a Tiktok clip? Tell our photographers precisely where the image is going to be used – this helps to get the best result for your goals.

It’s also crucial to understand what your target client base will want to know: they may need to know how to use the product, if it’s a new formula, or will they want to see different shades close up and accurately (lighting can significantly alter the appearance of colours in photographs). Consider these things ahead of the shoot.

beauty product photography

Branding and offering a solution

Discuss with your photographer how you want to market your product, if you are a new brand. Consider who the product is for – is it an expensive, luxury brand, or affordable to everyone? Outline what differentiates your products from others in the same space; in other words, what makes you unique.

Every brand has a unique selling proposition (USP) and a mission, and you want this to be reflected in your images. Often, beauty brands will include their motto in their photographs, and the overall ethos of your brand might be reflected in other creative choices, e.g. in the background, colour choices, etc. The photographs should reflect your brand image, so pay attention to what is and isn’t included in the frame. For example, if your USP is using only organic ingredients, then including some of these in your frame will enhance the message you’re trying to convey. Knowing your client base is the key to deciding what to include – so do your research before your shoot begins.

Details

Detail is everything in photographing cosmetics and skincare. Items are usually captured to appear at around the size of a hand. Customers want to see the close details of the product; they want to see how it looks in real life, particularly in terms of colour and texture. High resolution images which show the detail are far more impactful, not only from a visual standpoint, but also from a marketing perspective: customers are unlikely to want to invest in a product they can’t properly see. This is especially true given the rise of online beauty brands – customers can have a fear of being conned if they don’t know the brand. At Pocket, we use only high resolution NIkon cameras, capable of producing clean images with precise detail.

If there are any aspects of your product (e.g. new formula, colours, organic ingredients) that you want to highlight in the shots, mention this to the photographer before the shoot. Showing detail is what persuades customers to buy your product; customers are wary of investing in an item they can’t clearly see.

beauty product photography

Arranging the shoot

Our creative team understands that every client we work with has unique goals. Some brands want to portray their product in a very specific way, and there can be a huge difference between one skincare product and the next. Our photographers will work with you to understand your vision and bring it to life.

Before the shoot, we’ll discuss how you envision the images, and the kind of aesthetic you want to go for. Angles are often important in beauty photography; unusual angles, which people don’t typically see in promotional images, are a strategic way to gain clients’ attention. Moving around and playing with angles brings perspective to the shots, and can showcase an unusual or impressive feature of your products.

Props

Props aren’t generally considered crucial when photographing cosmetics. If you do want to use them, ensure they don’t take the focus away from the product itself. Too many items in the frame can look too busy and be distracting – your product won’t be the focus, which defeats the aim of promotional photos. Props, if used, are there to enhance the product, so choose them very carefully. The photographer might advise against them for eCommerce purposes, as the goal there really is to hone in on the product in detail. However, they can be a useful addition to social media posts or TikTok videos.

beauty product photography

Background

Choose the right background to enhance the product’s appearance. This might be a black or dark background against a vibrant red lipstick, or clean, pastel shades for a wellness product. The motto and customer expectations should also come into play here; the overall aesthetic of the image will help to convey the brand message, whether this is to be seen as playful and fun, or sleek and minimalist. Shadows can enhance the appearance of a product on a website listing for e-commerce, although this does depend on the background and other aspects of the image too.

Your project

Pocket Creatives have worked with a wide range of cosmetics and wellness brands – take a look at the striking visuals we’ve created on our testimonials page.

The team at Pocket Creatives are proud to shoot on Nikon, Panasonic and Sony cameras and edit using Adobe software.