October 14, 2011

Packshot Photography - Getting Your Teeth Into Primal Instincts

If you needed any persuading as to the value and importance of packshot photography then it's important to look back a little in time. No, further than that. Quite a bit further - several thousand years in fact. Because to appreciate how we operate, react, respond and view the world today we need to look back at our history and development over the last few thousand years.

If you took a human from about 10,000 years ago and placed them in today's society then they pretty much would fit in, assuming you could teach them from an early age. We really haven't evolved much in many thousands of years, and we still carry about our primal instincts and our way of responding to the world around us.

A good packshot photographer knows that a catalogue photo, for all its glossy sleek appearance, is at its heart designed to target our most primal instincts, our base responses and to elicit that reaction from us which will inevitably result in our carrying a slightly lighter wallet around with us. Our world today is so full of text, sound, words and technology that it's easy to forget that all of this is still relatively new - even speech. Certainly our grasp of a written language is very recent indeed, and it was only a few generations ago that it would have been considered most unusual to be able to read and write.

We are, essentially, a predator, and as such our most keen sense is that of sight. Our ancestors would use sight to scan the forest or the plain, to identify quickly any potential threats, and any potential prey. We learned to use visual clues very quickly in order to make snap judgments, and quick decisions. Visual awareness was essential to stay alive.

Today we don't so much rely upon our sense of sight to watch for prey, since we can have frozen food delivered to our door, and as far as threats are concerned, there's relatively little chance of bumping into a mountain lion in Kettering town centre. However, we still retain those same instincts which saw us survive in the jungles and plains of Africa so many thousands of years ago. Today our visual acuity and our ability to respond without even thinking about it to visual clues is as strong as ever. Good packshot photography can take full advantage of this.

If you want to reach into someone's soul, you have to do it through the eyes. Words can only ever achieve so much, and are mere mathematics for the brain - they have to travel much further to reach the soul. A good catalogue photo needs to bypass logic and numbers, words and insurance options, and just reach out to the inner person and make them want it, feel they need it, and start to respond and react to it in a positive way even without thinking.

Because that's the thing with packshot photography - a good catalogue photo makes you respond before you have had time to think. It's the first reaction which is the more powerful - just as they say that first impressions count. If you see a photograph of something, you can feel desire for it even before your brain has decided that you don't need it, that it can't be justified, that it's too expensive or that you can find a better deal elsewhere. Once you're hooked, just like being a fish, it's very hard to escape.

Exactly how a professional packshot photographer achieves this would take up a mammoth book, perhaps several but it's worth being aware that if you're considering saving money by carrying out packshot photography in house, you may find that the plan backfires. Remember, a catalogue photo needs to do far more than simply show customers what your product looks like. A picture of a tasty boar may well sound attractive, but few of our ancestors would have survived for long on pictures alone. Give your customers what they need - feed them meat, not paper!

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