Pack Photography – The Art Of Talking Without Words

It may be a terrible clich, but if a picture paints a thousand words, pack photography can shift stock. There’s just no other way of looking at it. If you want to sell a product then it is essential to make sure that the catalogue photo works as hard as anything else you try. In fact pack photography may well prove to be of more importance than any other tactic you use.

We live in an image driven world. We are all bombarded every day by media images, from web pages to flyers, television adverts to billboard posters, from product images on boxes to catalogue photos. Every day we are exposed to several hundred marketing images, and we have necessarily become extremely good at filtering most of them out. We have all developed an unerring tendency to identify at a sub conscious level which products and marketing messages are intended for us, and which may also be of some interest.

This is important, because the first thing to appreciate is that your pack photography isn’t something people will always look for. Your potential customers may well be entirely passive. A catalogue photo or promotional picture has to be proactive, grabbing the attention of your potential customer. But it’s also worth bearing in mind that this has to be achieved at a sub conscious level, and your photo has to include several key bits of information.

Every photograph has to be capable of informing your potential customers that this is a product, business or brand which is relevant to them. Remember, this has to be achieved at a subconscious level. So how do you catch your target audience’s attention sub consciously though a single photo? Don’t try answering that question as even the most experienced and professional catalogue photographer would probably have trouble answering the question succinctly. It requires an accurate and in depth understanding of your target audience to begin with.

You may spend a fortune on the most innovative, clever and attractive marketing image, but if it fails to catch the attention of the right kind of person, then every penny will have been wasted. It would be like spending thousands of pounds on banners and posters saying ‘Happy Birthday George’ when the person’s name is Fred, and it’s their anniversary. Fred will probably not even notice it, because at a sub conscious level he’ll ignore it. This is a gross simplification of the problem, but it cannot be emphasised enough that a good understanding of your target audience is the first step towards pack photography which communicates to the right people.

Understanding who you’re targeting is the first vital step towards developing pack photography which will ‘talk’ to those people in the right way. Clearly if your target audience includes professional business executives then using vibrant colours, motion blur and funky angles will pass them by, whereas if your target audience is teenagers then using flat, clean and straight edged images will probably do little to catch their attention. Professional marketing photographers know the many tricks of the trade which can be employed to make sure that every catalogue photo or pack photograph catches the sub conscious attention of the right target audience. But that’s only the first step.

Because once you’ve got the attention of your audience, you then have only a split second to sell your product. Research has clearly shown that once people glance at a photograph they make an internal decision as to its interest to them in under one second. If the old clich of a picture painting a thousand words is true, you have around a second to get your audience’s attention, hold that attention and sell the idea of your product to them, communicating those thousand words clearly, accurately, unambiguously and, above all, quickly. Pack photography is the art of speaking quickly, without using words.