When products are hard to photograph

Blogger probs. They’re real, right? One of the hardest things for me is photos. There was a time, back in the early days of blogging, that you could throw up this picture and get 87,000 comments on your post:

Now? Not so much. A poorly lit, on the fly photo of a messy plate isn’t going to inspire new followers or new brand partnerships. Nowadays, it takes creative, magazine quality photography to stand out from the ever-more-curated crowd.

Taking great photos isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if you want to stay top of mind in the industry and keep growing your brand and your online channels. And sometimes, to top off the challenge of taking perfectly composed and ethereally lit product photos, you’re working with subject matter that is just plain hard to photograph.

So, as always, instead of reinventing the wheel, we took a look around for examples of creative product shots that do a fantastic job showcasing the product. Because we bloggers have to help one another out, amiright?

Let’s dive in and learn from our community.

Creative angles for: socks.

It hadn’t occurred to me how hard it would be to photograph socks (especially those that aren’t supposed to show above your shoes!) until we had the chance to work with Tabio. The community is LOVING these socks—they are the #1 sock in Japan, so it stands to reason they’d be a hit stateside, too—and we’ve seen a lot of unique angles come out of shots tagged #lovemytabio as a result.

Get upside down

Lots of yogis in the community got their feet off the ground, offering a broader range of angles on the product itself.

Haaaayyyy, Saturday! So excited for the weekend over here, we’re FLIPPING out! 🤣🤸🏻‍♀️ . . Today kicks off @tabio.usa’s Instagram challenge! Follow their insta page and from December 16-25 they’ll be selecting someone daily to win a FREE pair of socks! No they won’t make you magically be able to touch your head with your feet (woah, Brooke! 😍), but they are AMAZING! 👣 . . #sweatpink #sweatysaturday #stopdropandyoga #sweatpinkpartner #tabiousa #lovemytabio #comfortevolved #tabiosports #ad . . 📷: @breathebrooke

123 Likes, 9 Comments – FitApproach (@fitapproach) on Instagram: “Haaaayyyy, Saturday! So excited for the weekend over here, we’re FLIPPING out! 🤣🤸🏻‍♀️ . . Today…”

Straight kickin’ it 👌 * * Kicked around in my fave @tabio.usa socks today, perfect companions for running all over town – and the best socks for when you’re actually running 🏃‍♀️ #tabiousa #lovemytabio #sweatpink #sweatpinkpartner #flexandflow #flexandflowyoga #yogaeverydamnday #yogastrong #yogavibes #yoga❤️ can’t wait to be back out #trailrunning but for now #hiking and walking up a storm! #fitpregnancy #pregnantyogi #24weekspregnant #portlandyoga #pdxyogascene #portland

212 Likes, 10 Comments – Jamie King (@jamiekingfit) on Instagram: “Straight kickin’ it 👌 * * Kicked around in my fave @tabio.usa socks today, perfect companions for…”

Splayed toes = toe socks on full display.

Get comfortable with new angles

Chances are you’re not usually doing close ups with your feet. But in this case, it works. How cute is Rachel’s photo?

GIVEAWAY🎉🎉 New Year means new goals personally, professionally, and of course new fitness goals. I have goals for both lifting and running in mind and I can’t wait to get to work on crushing them🏋🏽‍♀️ I have been working on building my mileage back up and I’ve been testing out these @tabio.usa socks🧦 these socks are designed specially for running and offer arch support, which has made all the difference for me🏃🏽‍♀️a full review is up on the blog, but I have a pair to GIVEAWAY🙌🏼 all you have to do is follow me and tag a friend below👇🏼each tag is 1 entry. The giveaway ends Thursday at 11:59PM and the winner will be announced on Friday😁 good luck and Happy New Year🎉 #thesimplelife #linkinbio #tabio #tabiousa #lovemytabio #comfortevolved #tabiorunning #tabiosports #sweatpink #cleaneats #eatcleantraindirty #fitfam #fitspo #fitchick #fitapproach #fitfluential #girlswhorun #girlswholift #girlswithmuscle #healthy #newyear #lupuswarrior #run #runhappy #sweatwithkayla #womensrunningcommunity

76 Likes, 22 Comments – Rachael Miner (@rachael_miner) on Instagram: “GIVEAWAY🎉🎉 New Year means new goals personally, professionally, and of course new fitness goals. I…”

When in doubt, rope in a cute kid

Someday I’m going to have to stop using this trump card. (I keep putting off the conversation of when I should stop using my toddler as a prop in my photos). Just to be clear: she actually inserted herself in this photo, and she turned it from blah to <3 <3 <3.

We’re in the parrot phase over here: everything I say is liable to be repeated, and her talents at mimicking my movements are just getting more sophisticated. Can’t say I mind when she decides to add some cute to my photo shoots. 🙂 #sweatpink @tabio.usa #tabio #comfortevolved #socks #mackenziemb #23months #momlife #flexandflow #toddlermom #fitmom

126 Likes, 14 Comments – Alyse Mason Brill (@alysemb) on Instagram: “We’re in the parrot phase over here: everything I say is liable to be repeated, and her talents at…”

Food that isn’t (yet) food porn

A ton of our community members are enjoying Personal Trainer Food right now—frozen meals that help you eat healthy in a convenient, no-decisions-required kind of way—and the GIANT boxes of food that appeared at their doorsteps included, well, frozen food. Not your typical #foodporn subjects, but pretty awesome nonetheless.

Show the scale

Since everyone received LOTS of food, photos and videos showing the scale of their product make a huge impact.

Mommy Gone Healthy

Unboxing of personaltrainerfood.com! I’m giving their two week meal program a try. While I’m not trying to lose a large amount of weight, I’d like to drop a bit to help with sports performance. I’m…

Show the finished product, too

Now that’s more #foodporn quality:

Good eats especially if you have goals. @personaltrainerfood ・・・ Eat Good. Lose Weight. #personaltrainerfood

64 Likes, 6 Comments – Femme Fitale Fit Club (@femmefitalefitclub) on Instagram: “Good eats especially if you have goals. @personaltrainerfood ・・・ Eat Good. Lose Weight….”

In general: know what your audience likes

Some influencers can crush it with a beautifully executed product shot or meal photo. That’s not me. I’ve moved away from straight product shots myself (at least as much as possible; some are unavoidable). Instead, I’m trying to take photos that show how I incorporate products into my life, even if it means the product is less front and center, because I’ve learned through experience and dramatically lower engagement that my audience does not give a flying F about a product flat lay. And none of my photos are magazine quality, so I have to work within my own limitations to get best results for my brand partner AND my personal brand.

For example, this photo shows more of the product, but would flop on my personal channels:

The Hello Baby Box! from Babylist.

Whereas this one is just a candid sneak peek, but far more likely to get engagement:

alysemb babylistThis is all to say, follow what works for your brand, and get creative within those parameters.

Have you discovered fresh ways to take product photos? Do share—we all need to learn from each other! 🙂

If you want more help upleveling your food photography specifically, hop into our free course. It includes four modules on lighting, angles, faking a gourmet kitchen on the cheap, and taking stellar photos just using your phone.

Free Food Photography Course

Looking for ways to up the ante on your Instagram grid? Sign up for our upcoming FREE Food Photography Course. High-quality foodie photos are easier to curate than you think and will keep you audience drooling and wanting more
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Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Influencer Resource

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Influencer Resource


  1. Sara Letsch
    Sara Letsch

    Oh gosh yes. My photos have gotten better, but that is still an area I struggle in SO much! Y’all have such wonderful photos! (Oh, and I just signed up to the email photo course a few days ago!)

    1. Alyse Mason
      Alyse Mason Post author

      I have such a hard time translating what I’m imagining a photo should look like into an actual beautiful photo… ahhh.

      That is awesome, hope you get a lot out of the course – the SPAs who contributed their wisdom are seriously geniuses behind the lens!! 🙂

  2. Jamie King
    Jamie King

    OMG, I struggled so HARD with photos – especially food photos – this is SO helpful – thank you!

  3. Nicci Randall
    Nicci Randall

    Products like socks are so hard for me – making something that is more normal/every day into a cool photo can be a challenge. Being a pretzel is helpful :-). These tips are great!

  4. Farrah Fong
    Farrah Fong

    The struggle is real (especially with those Tabio socks! I didn’t realize it’d be that hard either!)! I still have a longggg way to go on photos but when I look back at how they used to look, there’s…definitely been improvement! 😛

  5. De Bolton

    Photos and Videos are my nemesis and emphasis this year. The photo course did help

  6. Liz Wilson
    Liz Wilson

    I always always always try to rope a cute puppy into my photos! hehe Good thing I have Abbie here to fill in for Tori! 😉

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