Should Product Photographers Learn 3D Modeling?

Most of the time, when it comes to photography or video of cars, beauty products, cosmetics, and even shoes, it’s made on a computer and not by a photographer. There are several reasons for this, but in this video, Karl Taylor, a renowned product photographer and educator, discusses photography versus 3D CGI and the advantages of each.

The importance of knowing how to light a scene, texture, the photographer’s style of composition, and overall approach to putting a scene together for a photograph is still the most important aspect. Your camera is only a tool, even if it has become the computer.

Advantages of CGI

The Model Can Be Recycled

Once the product is modeled, it can be used in any setting, so there’s no need for a client to hire a photographer every time. This saves time and money. The client doesn't need a photographer for every campaign. 

It Can Display the Impossible

There are effects that can’t be produced with photography. Water splashes, materials, and gravity are not a problem in a simulated scene. There are also no problems with dust on Perspex surfaces, and the light stands that you’ve set up in the scene can be hidden in the render.

Advantages of Being a Photographer

Knowledge of Light

It’s a very understated aspect of photography, but it’s the most important part of product photography or video. Without it, the scene will not be usable, and the same is true when the product is simulated in a virtual 3D scene.


What do you think? Is it something that could one day replace product photography like we know it today?

Is it something you’d like to learn? Let us know in the comments. 

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Benoit Pigeon's picture

I've see the full video before. He is right about where both have limits. People tend to fall for the Ikea model, but Ikea has simple products with very few color variations that they sell on 6 continents. Most products are not sold or produced the same way.

Paul Trantow's picture

If you're in a line of work (high-end product, cars) that are susceptible to 3-D replacement, consider that the future is now. I just referred a client who makes shiny things that were a drag to photograph to a 3-D artist because they'd look better that way, and were easy and inexpensive to switch up. Now I just shoot plates for them with dummies. Still fun, very minor client, and glad their stuff looks better than their competitors.