Speaking honestly, shadows are considered as the distracting element for any product image, but if you know how to play with them, shadows can turn out to be a great advantage.
Natural shadows are best to enhance the product images but sometimes it becomes difficult to capture them. No worries, a few little tricks can help you capture suitable shadows for your product to make your product images look cool. Post-production agencies are providing their image editing services, you can use them too if you've already captured the images. You can add shadows to your product images easily with their help. But there is one point which should be considered, i.e. only one type of shadow should be used throughout all the images which will help you in maintaining consistency. Choose a particular type of shadow which goes well with all your products and use them accordingly. Shadows will help in increasing the understanding of the product by customers.
The importance of shadows in a product image: There are a lot of points which make shadow an important element of product photography. Here are some of them.
1. Natural look
This is one of the biggest advantages of shadows. Shadows give a natural look and realistic feel to the product image. A product without any shadow seems artificial and looks like a wallpaper instead of an original product. A tiny shadow adjacent to your product would do a lot to make it look natural.
2. Beautifies the image
Anything which looks realistic looks beautiful. A shadow, other than adding a realistic touch to the product image, also beautifies it. The shadow adds detailing to the image and enhancing its appearance. The value of an image is increased if a shadow is added to it. Also, customers find the images with shadows more pleasing as compared to the normal ones as long as it's not too dark or harsh.
3. Idea of relevant size and shape
Shadows help in better understanding of the product. Relevant shape and size of the product can be easily understood with the help of shadows. Other than that, shadows help in reflecting the original texture of the product as well.
4. Creation of focus
If created wisely, shadows can be effectively used to create the focus on the product. A product image has different elements which may sometimes steal the show. Shadows in such a case help to create the focus on the product only. Darker shadows look less appealing than bright colored product and therefore, the product emerges out as the star from the image.
5. Understanding of 3D geometry
Understanding the 3D geometry of the product may be difficult without the presence of the shadows. Shadows explain everything without any efforts. Of course it's not for all the customers because they may not be highly or trained professionals to spot shadows like i'm trying to explain do but still, believe me, it works.
6. Brings attention towards the light
Shadows are the ones that divert the attention towards the light. Light is incomplete without shadow and to get a shadow without light is impossible. Shadows first gain the attention of the viewers and then, they divert the mind of customers to the light source and then to the product. Thus, shadows work positively for a product image. Mastering on lighting would not be enough. One should also work upon shadows.
7. Creates contrast
Shadows help in creating a contrast with the colors present in the image. Shadows are darker in shade and acts as a contrast with colors of product and background. Thus, adding a drama to the image. Also, high-contrast colors of the images help the product to stand out.
Details of the products are highlighted in an interestingly amazing way.
Shadows are dynamic in nature and have various types. Common types of shadows that are used in a product image are:
Natural shadows are the ones that are formed by placing an object in front of light source. This would block the light and the shadow is created adjacent to the products. Natural shadow works best for product images and is created in the first place when you shot a product and that will require a good understanding of capturing shadows.
Drop shadows are software generated shadows. They are not formed originally when a product is placed on a surface. However, they are generated with the help of shadow adding process after the images are actually clicked and then cutout with the help of an image editing software like Photoshop (R). Drop shadows are formed just beneath the surface of the product.
A reflection shadow is formed when the product is placed on an extremely shining or polished surface. But it can be difficult to click images by placing the product on such a shiny surface. As a quick fix, reflection shadow is added to the images, you can use any image editing software to add reflection & shadows to your product images or you can use a little of post-production agencies like PixelPhant. It is a simple and faster way to add shadow to the image.
If we backlit a product it'll create a cast shadow in front of the product. Cast shadows are a really creative element of a product image but it's not recommended for everyone, use them wisely. Cast shadows can steal the focus from the product sometimes but it looks so cool. They can be used for a fashion shoot or a lookbook but you don't want them in your standalone product because it takes space.
Many people try to make a dark shadow which is not advised by professionals. Soft shadows look appealing whereas dark shadows are distracting. Adding soft shadow will create a winning situation for you as they will make the product look more persuasive and the product images will easily be able to convince the customers.
For photography, light is considered as the most important element but the shadows shouldn't be ignored. In order to get a good product image, the presence of a shadow is also necessary.