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The Importance of Aesthetic Imagery for Commercial Work

Aesthetics are a vital component of any photographer’s day-to-day activities. Defined by Merriam Webster as “Responsive to or appreciative of what is pleasurable to the senses,” aesthetics help us determine how a picture should look in order to be visually appealing.

Costly gear isn’t needed in order to produce an aesthetically pleasing photograph, but a good photographer is. Even if both were to use the same equipment, there’s a huge difference between the work of an amateur and that of a professional. The photographer’s artistic vision comes to life, toying with everything from lighting and placement to how the camera is posed.

Aesthetics can also be a good indicator of the artist’s preferred style –do they like a lot of noise in their picture? Or are they fans of a more minimalist approach? Both can be visually appealing, but they require different setups. For instance, in this example by Big Baller Brand, the photos don’t utilize aesthetics well:

What’s the issue? Well, in the photo to the left although the text and art on the shoe are clearly seen, there’s not much else. The texture on the concrete floor establishes some interesting foreground, but it pulls some of the attention away from the shoe itself because of the photo’s sharpness. The result is a lot of empty space that doesn’t do much for the product they are trying to showcase.

The photo to the right is less dynamic than that of the left. It’s obviously taken from someone’s cell phone, providing an unprofessional appearance. The plain ambient lighting from the ceiling light and the man’s hand are very distracting.

In contrast, Nike provides a good example of how to utilize aesthetics.

Rather than a singular png or jpeg of a photo, the company used a gif to showcase different shoes in the line. The gif finely displays the side and underside of each shoe, detailing the product at an unusual angle. Although there is a background, it doesn’t distract from the focus of the shoe and instead, provides a dynamic background. Usually with these “floating” shots, the shoe is held up or hung with wires that are photoshopped out during post-production –a far cry from physically holding up the shoe with one’s hand.

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