Is It A Good Idea To Learn Subject Separation When Working In Product Photography?

Oct 5, 2023 | 0 comments

Today we are going to explore a more technical question that many budding product photography professionals ask. That is, is it a good idea to learn about subject separation as part of their development in e-commerce photography?

We are often overloaded with ideas, concepts and equipment that we must learn when starting out in this industry. This can make it challenging to know how to prioritise. If we take composition as an example, there is a great deal to learn about this theory and it takes a significant amount of time. However, by learning techniques like subject separation you can make the learning process feel a little easier.

So what exactly is subject separation in product photography?

Put simply, subject separation is a technique whereby those working in e-commerce photography make sure the subject of an image is visually separate from other elements such as the background.

As a packshot photographer or professional working in another area of product photography, the number one goal is to make the subject stand out and tell the very best story. By making sure that the subject is defined and the focus of attention then we can deliver on this objective.

We have all taken shots or seen work from another e-commerce photography studio where the subject gets lost in the background. When this kind of composition failure happens, you lose quality in so many other areas.

Why do we find learning composition a challenge?

The reason many of us starting out in e-commerce photography struggle with composition initially is that there is an awful lot of guidance out there. Whether you’re exploring the rule of thirds, layering, leading lines or subject separation it is hard to know where to start and what to prioritise.

Where subject separation comes in is that it helps us with multiple aspects of composition and makes us think in a way that delivers better results. No matter whether you’re a packshot photographer or you work in fashion product photography, making sure the subject stands out must be top of your priority list.

How can I achieve subject separation in my photography?

There are some really effective ways to ensure each photograph has subject separation and we’ve summarised a few of them below.

Add space around the subject

Making sure that there is nothing in your image that overlaps with the subject will instantly add separation and allow the subject to stand out. By creating space and being mindful of the scene you’ve set up, you’ve won half the battle.

Think about the lighting of the subject

As with almost every article we write, lighting must be a key consideration because not only is it difficult to perfect as a packshot photographer but it can transform e-commerce photography images. By focusing on how you light the subject, you can help to make sure there is separation.

Utilise contrast in product photography

Contrast allows you to maximise the definition and separation of the subject. This is particularly helpful when you lack space and contrast can be achieved through both lighting and colour depending on what you’re trying to achieve.


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