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Review 3.2.1.

  • Identify the benefits of product photography
  • Categorize product photographs
  • Identify details to be considered before starting a product shoot
  • Identify tips for capturing good product photographs
  • Apply ideal camera settings to product photographs

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Photography in Advertisements

Vocab: advertisement, stock photography, unisex

Learners can...

  • Identify the three main modes of persuasion: emotion, credibility, and logic
  • Identify and explain important decisions to be made before shooting advertising photographs
  • Match tips for effective advertising photography to specific examples
  • Compose and capture an advertising photograph, assigning a tagline to advertise the product


Leo Burnett

"Don’t tell me how good you make it; tell me how good it makes me when I use it."

Leo Burnett (1891–1971) was a pioneering U.S. advertising executive who founded the ad agency that bears his name. To this day, Leo Burnett Worldwide is a global advertising agency that ranks among the top agencies in the industry. Undoubtedly, you have viewed some of Leo Burnett's advertisements, including ads featuring Tony the Tiger, the cartoon mascot who helps sell Frosted Flakes cereal. Tony's familiar catchphrase “They're grrrrrreat!” has even become part of U.S. pop culture.You encounter advertising at every turn: on television, online, in magazines, in newspapers, on billboards, and in movie theaters. Each advertisement has a specific purpose. Its image, sounds, and text have been carefully crafted to persuade you to buy something, to think something, or to act in some way.


An advertisement uses a public medium to promote or market a service or product by grabbing the attention of potential customers. Photographs play an essential role in advertising and marketing because they can tell a story about a product and present it to consumers in a desirable way.Consumers trust and rely on photographs in advertisements as they make decisions. Therefore, these photographs must capture viewers' attention and motivate them to act.To persuade someone to purchase or do something, a photograph in an advertisement must appeal to a viewer in at least one of three ways. It must appeal to:

  • Emotion, creating a desired emotional response in a viewer
  • Credibility, creating a sense of the brand's character and authority for a viewer
  • Logic, creating an appeal to facts, statistics, and sound judgment on the part of a viewer

Over a century ago, photography was first used in advertising to persuade people to buy advertised products. Persuasive photographs were used to convey ways for customers to attain their aspirations or meet specific needs, no matter how realistic or unrealistic they might be.Today, whether advertising photographs are being used to sell products to make life easier, to promote environmental awareness, or to motivate people to have fun, what appeals to a customer is what will be most effective in any advertisement. To be successful, as you now know, an advertiser must establish a creative concept to capture audience interest and appeal to emotion, credibility, or logic.

Modes of Persuasion

The most powerful connection between customers and products is an emotional one. Emotional appeals can win people over by tugging at a person's heartstrings—and hopefully, their purse strings, as well. Emotional images can portray a happier life or a better home, creating a strong emotional connection that can motivate people to buy a product.The photograph appeals to viewers by suggesting that they can share these feelings, if only they were to purchase and drink the brand of coffee enjoyed by the model.

🔥Emotional Appeals

An appeal to credibility, or an ethical appeal, is another effective mode of persuasion. When photographs feature a brand or a spokesperson that viewers respect or hold in high regard, viewers are more likely to find an advertisement believable.The aim of a photograph that appeals to credibility is to convince the audience that an advertiser is both reliable and ethical, so these photographs must communicate a sense that a product or brand is more reliable and trustworthy than others. One way that advertisers create this sense is by using celebrity images and product endorsements.The image, for example, features the legendary basketball player Michael Jordan. The photograph, if used in an advertisement for sneakers, would create an appeal to credibility by suggesting that they are worth owning not only because Jordan is trustworthy, but also because Jordan's use of them has helped make him a winner.

🔥Appeals to Credibility

An advertising photograph may also be used to appeal to a viewer's reasoning or logic. The image and accompanying text can include evidence and statistics to help convince customers of the truth of a product's claims, as well as support ideas about how a product can make their lives better.The data and facts used in this mode of persuasion can be very convincing, and they are often used to sell products and services in print ads, so this mode of persuasion is a wonderful tool for advertisement photographers. The image on the right appeals to dog owners on a logical level. The image and text work together to convincingly show that the product is going to be tasty for pets, yet also demonstrates that the product contains healthy ingredients needed for a pet's well-being. The appeal to logic helps motivate customers by showing that a choice is correct and reasonable.

🔥Appeals to Logic and Understanding

🔥There are many methods by which to create effective advertisement photographs, including the following: Find the right model, match themes and colors, emphasize services and products, & tell a relatable story

Effective Advertisement Photographs

3. Showing a family or friends having a get-together

2. Using depth of field to highlight hiking shoes

4. Using vibrant shades and hues for advertising food

  1. Showing a child to advertise school bags

A. Tell a relatable story.B. Match themes and colors.C. Find the right model.D. Emphasize the service or product.

Match each example with the correct tip for effective advertising photography.

Before engaging in advertisement photography, you need to make some important decisions, based on what your photographs need to communicate.

  • Decide on a studio or location
  • Determine the degree of product focus
  • Consider angles and perspectives
  • Decide whether to use stock photographs or to use original photographs


Deciding where the photo shoot should take place depends entirely on the product and the requirements of the shoot. Choosing the right location will have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the shoot. Some products—for example, swimming gear—might be best captured in the location where a customer would use them, especially if you intend to create an effective narrative. The most effective location is up to you, based on your intentions for the shoot.

Decide on a Studio or Location

In many instances, a product needs to be placed front and center in a photograph to ensure that it draws the viewers' complete attention. This is especially important for creating advertisements intended for mass consumption, as advertisers want viewers to instantly recognize key points about the product.However, there are instances in which a product might not receive a high degree of focus. For example, an expensive watch company may want to emphasize lifestyle, rather than the watch itself, by showing a well-groomed model pose wearing one of their watches.

Determine the Degree of Product Focus

Think practically about how you want to represent the product. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want it to look lifelike and shot straight on?
  • Do you want to explore angles and perspectives that will amplify the shape or features of the product in a certain way?
For example, shooting something from below will make it look larger than it is. You could also use depth to make the product appear more prominent and disproportionately larger than other items in the scene, thereby drawing attention to it.

Consider Angles or Perspectives

Stock photography is a collection of generic images and illustrations that can be purchased with a license.The product owners must decide if they want their photograph to be original or if an existing picture will do. For example, if the picture needs to be taken in a specific location that is not easily accessible or taken during a certain season, stock photography might be more appropriate. Stock photographs are also useful in situations in which many models are required. If you would like to avoid paperwork, such as model or property releases that can impact time and budget, stock photographs may be a better option.

Decide Whether to Use Stock or Original Photographs



Optional Activity

For the following activity, choose a product you would like to advertise. It can be a product that you use, a product that you like or enjoy, or a product that you feel others should know about.Choose a persuasive appeal, and then compose and shoot one photograph of the product, emphasizing both the product and the appeal. Instructions:

  1. Choose an appropriate location, background, and degree of product focus for your photograph.
  2. Use props or models, as needed.
  3. Carry out your photo shoot.
  4. Create a tagline, or advertising slogan, to accompany your photograph.
  5. Once you have finished, share your work with your teacher.

Summary 3.2.2.

In today's lesson, you learned:

  • How photography in advertising appeals to consumers
  • Tips for capturing effective advertisement photographs
  • Key decisions to make before engaging in advertisement photography
In an upcoming lesson, you will learn about fine art photography.