One thing that professionals working in product photography have in common with an amateur packshot photographer is the desire to improve. There are some useful articles to read, training programmes to join and coaching videos to watch but it can be difficult to know who to listen to.
It is important to realise that you don’t need to spend a fortune or follow specific people from the world of product photography. The fundamental rule to follow is that spending time practising with your camera is an inexpensive and hands-on way to build your skillset. But there is a little more to it than that, as we explain below.
The short answer is no! It is not simply a case of practising your photography and magically you will improve as a packshot photographer. You need to practice in the right way, with the right equipment and with a particular focus on the skills you need.
Practising will indeed embed knowledge around settings, lighting and technique but if you practice the wrong techniques or have insufficient knowledge then you could be embedding the wrong things. It can be difficult to unlearn these poor practices and so it’s best to not learn them in the first place.
As we’ve highlighted already, it isn’t simply good enough to go out and practice your product photography. You need to embrace the idea of high-quality practice but it can be difficult to know what this really means.
The main measurement for quality is whether the practice is appropriate and relevant to your requirements. By this we mean are you practising with the right equipment, the right software, the right environment and products. For example, there is no point studying how to use one piece of software if you’re going to use another, or how to perfect shooting clothing when you’re working on food as a packshot studio. Over time you can add these skills but you should prioritise.
We all like to cling to a specific number as a way of checking if we practice enough. There is a popular, yet incorrect term known as the “10,000-hour rule.” The idea behind this is that it takes this long to become an expert in something.
What this rule fails to take into account is the quality of the practice and many experts across a number of fields would say they had accumulated far fewer hours than this. Don’t try to focus on the hours of practice but focus on the quality of practice and results from your attempts at product photography.
At the heart of this article is the message that practice really does matter, but if you don’t practice in the right way it can cause you to waste time, money and effort. There are many fantastic resources out there to use as a guide when practising and if you wish to spend money then you can indeed work with experts, and hire models or studios but we recommend exploring simpler, cheaper options first.