Advertising Photography Case Study – Argan Oil Products
For this advertising photography case study I chose a range of argan oil products available at the local pharmacy. The aim was to create a series of images that would showcase these products individually and together. I wanted the images to work with and enhance the branding already evident from the products themselves. So, the palette of colours I chose to work from were earthy browns and greens with some warm orange. This would enable the images to look harmonious through complementary and matching colours (if you are a photographer you might find this article useful: composing using colour harmony).
This first image took the tones of the bottle as the inspiration for a coloured gradient background. I thought it might be interesting to show oil so used some cheap vegetable oil around the base of the bottle with a little dribble running down the side. Whilst I quite like this as a possible image to use in the final set, I wasn’t sure it would make the cut as the main hero shot. Nevertheless, I wanted to try out one more shot with this setup to see if this was the look I wanted to stay with or whether to try something else.
The shot of the Argan Oil hydrating hair mask was intended to show an interesting swirl in the product. However, this was more difficult to achieve than anticipated. It also left me thinking that the product looked less chic with the lid off and the screw thread visible. So, I rejected this shot. The lighting is ok, but a little bland. So, inspired by the colouration on the parts of the jar I produced a variation as shown below.
The closed jar looks much smarter than the open one. This helped to keep more of a sense of a luxury product with good design. I like the way the colours mimic the packaging. Having more than one colour gradient also adds an extra dimension of interest. So, I decided to apply this principle to other shots as well.
After changing the lighting and surface around a few times, I preferred the third of the above images. The light green looked a little too clinical to me. There is some benefit to that kind of implication as the products might be seen as almost medicinal, highlighting that they are supposed to be good for you. However, clinical can also feel less welcoming and more “cold”, so I preferred a warmer look that conveyed an organic idea with the earthiness.
This image was trying to bring a bit more creativity and fun into the series. In many ways I think this has been quite successful. It gives a sense of the product in use, practical and not just for sitting on a medicine cabinet. The monochrome gradient works ok with this thanks to the foam at the bottom. It might still be worth trying with green added as well.
Now that I was getting more of a feel for an overall look, I wanted to start putting more products together in the same shot. Some products had the green as primary colour with the brown/orange as secondary whilst the majority were the other way round. One interesting way to present them was to have opposite colours in the background to the foreground products. This helped the products to stand out even more. So, I went for a product range shot using similar ideas.
It was important that the products look like they belong together. The colouration in the background helps to tie them together harmoniously. Bright highlights on the products helps to keep them looking slightly clinical, yet not overly so. This image seems to strike a good balance between aspects of the branding and range of appeal. The next stage involved creating an alternative look that could be used as a variation on the themes so far. For this I took the stylised “A” from Argan oil and turned that into a watermark. This was added to a 2 tone background using colour harmony as before. The final touch in processing was to add texture layers to enhance the earthy, organic feel.
This look seems to work very nicely, pulling various branding elements together and serving them up boldly and simply. I wondered if it might work with several products together in one shot. I also wanted to try with an eye-catching splash to see how that would affect the feel.
This doesn’t seem to work. The splash is intrusive and we are losing some of the higher end look of previous images. The hand and nail cream is looking cheaper rather than better. I am also not sure that this look works so well with multiple items. However, I felt it worth persevering with to create these final 2 images:
So, this advertising photography case study led me to 2 final looks that helped to enhance the Argan Oil brand in different ways. Both draw on the colours already present in the packaging. They also both convey something of a healthy, organic vibe whilst also pushing towards something more high end rather than cheap. I hope you agree that the final images in each style make the product look like a mid-range product at least rather than a cheap, budget item. You may be interested to know that each of the products in this series was purchased for just £1 in the pharmacy. This seems to be their ongoing price and not just a one off sale.
This case study was designed to show how advertising photography can enhance the branding of a product. It also shows how you can raise expectations of price and value for the purchaser (see also my post on how you can add value with high quality product photography).
© Joe Lenton, May 2017