Why Are Brands Ditching Product Photography and Moving to CGI?

Shooting products has been a staple of many photographers, but with the advantages brought by CGI, more and more companies are starting to make changes to how they create images of their products. Why are they moving, and do photographers need to adapt?

Dustin Valkema of PRO EDU Photography explains why companies are increasingly turning to CGI, and the list is compelling: if you were in charge of the marketing for a large corporation, you would almost certainly want to take advantage of the improved speed and efficiency of producing images, not to mention the massively increased versatility of the resulting assets. In terms of being able to recycle and reuse images, CGI renders simply have more longevity, and with an abundance of programmers and fast processors at their disposal, photographers will start to see themselves left behind.

Product photographers should definitely keep in mind that this is a changing market and consider how they can adapt. This doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a 3D designer; instead, it can mean creating a portfolio that brings a sense of authenticity to a product that can act as a complement to the CGI within a company’s marketing.

Are you a product photographer that has seen clients move away from conventional photography and towards CGI? What are you doing to adapt? Let us know in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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I really don't get why there is still so much photographed which looks and feels cgi and would be so much easier, cheaper and faster done as cgi. The only answer for that I can imagine is, that agencys earning more when doing it the classic way. It makes a difference if you put 20% on top of a 20k photo shoot or 20% on top of a 3000 € CGI job.

Other than being a photographer so I don’t want to see a side of photography lost. I have a hard time with CGI when buying things. I think it will lead to more scams if we get used to CGI images of products how do you know it even exists? Also it never really looks right maybe I’m old fashioned but having a image of the product I’m buying is quite important to me. Especially if it’s a high value item

for E-Commerce,the Shop images that might be true, but for the Images used in advertising you will never see the difference.

Is he recording with the in-camera microphone?

This is a fun game to play with LEGO set boxes as well. Some are photos some are renders.

CGI can be a little too clean, too perfect and precise and a little boring looking even if it seem very real. I have a client that is getting into some CGI/360 images created in Eastern Europe, but to save money, instead of sending them fabric to digitize, I now get that to do. It has not affected my work so far, so it's a little bit of extra at least for now. I know the client is experimenting with the idea for now, but it will have to be worth spending the money to go all the way with it. I think it will be worth it in some cases, but it won't be worth the spending for everything. But I so see it being great for major companies like Ikea that sells hundreds of thousand of the same items yearly. Now I have a small client I just did some images for on a white background. Instead of an old fashion gradient made with my lights, I shot the individual items, clipped them, made a shadow and created a background with a white that has a little bit of tone in it and a short but strong dark gradient at the top and they love it. These are all aluminum items and I just come to realize after watching this article, that repeating that background does look a little artificial but pleasing. So I guess they liked that CGI look.

for e-commerce top-notch cgi is too expensive and the photography solution is too cheap in comprehension. For advertising this is the opposite.

2014 was 75% of all IKEA product CGi. So i guess they found some good workflow to get I work.

As a consumer, if the product fails to look like the CGI version, I'm not buying it.

That's right, lots of sales people hate being that situation and when that goes back all the way to top people, there is tension in advertising departments.