Product Photography: Tips From Peter McKinnon
Read our step-by-step summary of Peter McKinnon’s product photography tutorial he posted on his YouTube channel recently.
Peter McKinnon is one talent on YouTube who has shared his success with others by posting “How To” and “Tutorial” videos. In a little over a year’s time, he has amassed almost 2 million subscribers. PetaPixel explains how the popular YouTuber went from posting well done, though simple, vlogs to focusing on tutorials such as “8 Camera Hacks” or “$30,000.00 Camera”, which gave him millions of views and thousands of dollars a month.
While his website humbly describes him as a Canadian photographer and filmmaker who loves coffee and good stories, his videos are personable and high quality, which everyone from a novice to an experienced professional photographer or filmmaker can enjoy.
While you can watch his entire 14-minute video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0jGg-MUd-U, follow our cheat sheet for a quick, accessible guide on the best ways to master the art (yes, art) of product photography!
Peter McKinnon’s Product Photography “How to”
Product photography may be a part of your craft and business, but just because you are paid for it, doesn’t mean that it is any less exciting. In the competitive world of imagery, it can be a rewarding challenge to showcase items in beautiful, memorable new ways. McKinnon explains that this is the case for him.
McKinnon worked at a company for seven years, specifically in the realm of product photography for marketing. As practice makes perfect, he got very good at his work and had “free reign” on each project, with a reasonable budget and supplies. As part of this particular video, McKinnon enlists the help of his friend Matty, to choose two items from his office for a photo shoot. Matty selects a small cast iron puzzle and a plastic classic looking Holga camera.
According to Peter McKinnon’s expertise, the three areas he focuses on the most are textures, themes, and props. With this in mind, the pair heads to an antique store to search for what they need.
McKinnon starts with the idea of textures and surfaces which match the item he’s shooting. As the puzzle is cast iron, McKinnon gravitates to a brass cigarette tin, calling it “gunmetal” and “rusty,” suggesting he will highlight the problem and considers incorporating an old crate and photographs.
He finds a ginger ale crate and, though it is somewhat warped and old, explains that the texture will give “wonder and mystery” to the image. He cautions not to underestimate the idea of small accent items – in this case, an old rusty wrench, etc. This combination creates a good feeling for the viewer of the photograph.
Peter McKinnon’s calls his photography of the puzzle “raw,” which he adds is good for such photography. He doesn’t need a big studio with “fake mist and crazy lights.”
By staying true to his theme of a more rustic and mysterious blend of the photograph’s subject as supported by props and textures, he can create a truly professional looking shot on the floor of his kitchen! Using natural light from his kitchen window, his photograph of the Holga camera seems equally memorable. His use of theme blends to produce studio quality results.
Perhaps to keep his videos personal and give a little hint of his millennial side and personality, the video wraps with him joking about wiping off a mess his daughter left on his shirt. He then switches to explaining how confidence in his product photography led him to merge with a company he now works for.
He began photographing merchandise on his own without pay, applying his three techniques (texture, prop, theme), and tagging the owner until he heard back and was eventually hired to do the photographs professionally!
What will you do with his tips and guidelines in your next product photo shoot?