Best Practices
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Kathrin Geldmacher
Digital Marketing Manager

Why my company should switch to 3D product photography now

3D product visualization of a black headphone and next to it its 3D model in green lines
January 17, 2023

In recent years, numerous marketing teams have successfully switched from classic product photography - with photographer, camera, shooting and retouching - to new 3D product photography - based on CGI and 3D data.

The techniques and working methods can be learned quickly and can even be integrated very well into previous product photography and its processes. We'll show you how to do it and what you should consider.

What actually happens with 3D product photography?

In theory, taking a product image with 3D product photography is not much different from traditional product photography. The only exception: everything is 100% digital and completely adaptable. That is why 3D product photography is an effective way to cleverly present your products and present them in a more sophisticated way.

In 3D product photography, there is also:

  • a shooting object (= digitized 3D model of the product)
  • a room (digital in 3D software)
  • If necessary, other additional props (also digital 3D models)
  • one or more light sources (e.g. digitally simulated sun, lamp or window light)
  • an imaginary camera (only exists virtually)
Beige weißer Wecker in einem leeren schwarzen Raum mit grüner gezeichneter Kamera Simulation

In Comparison to classic product photography, you no longer have to set up, stage or retouch the product in the studio. The object can easily be brought into the desired position, virtually photographed from multiple perspectives and then made available for use. This is particularly beneficial for bulky objects such as cupboards, beds or cars.

Why should I switch to 3D product photography now?

The reasons for switching to 3D product photography as soon as possible vary widely. The biggest advantages, however, are the speed of image creation, independence from suppliers and the internal production chain, and the inexpensive versatility and scalability of the ordered content.

Here is an overview of various items that are omitted with the switch to 3D product photography:

Switch to less organization and logistics with 3D product photography

Which creative product marketing team doesn't dream that every crazy product presentation idea can be implemented without technical or physical limits with little organization. The switch to 3D product photography allows exactly this freedom in design and promises much more.

No material shipping to the product shooting date

They largely refrain from sending large or bulky objects and the time-consuming assembly and dismantling of the products at the photo shoot location. The associated annoyances, such as damaged or late delivered goods, are a thing of the past. Of course, a 3D agency must also “virtually” photograph products in a certain way, but they only need product references and not the entire product. Typical 3D agencies work, for example, on the basis of product scans via app, samples or their product components, photo references and preferably with CAD data. The unbeatable advantage here: Even companies with few digital or previously phobic about digitization can easily switch to 3D product photography.

Bild aus der Vogelperspektive auf eine schwarte Kamera, einen schwarzen Rasierer, einen weißen Zollstock und ein schwarzes Tablet

Hardly any staff required

Large-scale and long-planned product photography appointments with numerous stakeholders and decision makers involved can be tackled in a much more relaxed way. With the switch to modern 3D product photography, you don't have to worry about that anymore. As soon as the initial briefing is coordinated, you benefit from asynchrony in the 3D production process. All relevant stakeholders can intervene in the production process, provide feedback or request changes at any time. No one has to travel to the product shooting location anymore, necessarily make the planned appointment and reschedule (if a team member is unexpectedly absent or is barely available). It is also no longer necessary to book a product photographer.

No reservation of location or studio

When you switch to 3D product photography, you save yourself many classic costs, such as booking a product shooting location or photo studio or planning and sending the perfect props. As a team, however, you have also gained another advantage: travel and working time as well as the means of transportation to the planned location are eliminated for all team members. In addition, you no longer have to book or transport expensive camera equipment, as 3D product photography virtually scans 100% of products.

No more post-processing or image post-processing required

With the switch to 3D product photography, you also no longer need green screens to create perfect cutouts. Product images created in 3D production have no background in 3D software. So nothing that would have to be removed later.

Every product detail, every further perspective or, for example, other color variation does not require photo retouching due to the modelability of 3D data. It is particularly practical that every photo set-up can be used again and again, because the virtual shooting room remains identically furnished. However, should it be minimally adjusted, common 3D agencies can also do this with just a few clicks, giving you maximum flexibility.

3D product photography provides more dynamism and time savings in image production

Especially with large product portfolios in a wide variety of color or pattern variations, it is important to repeat a certain product setup for each product from the same perspective. A product that was not available on day X or was damaged during transport is an unnecessary stress, time and cost factor. There is also post-processing (e.g. for exempters or Packshots), retouching and similar optimizations, which are planned anyway.

By switching to 3D product photography, you get significantly more time to focus on your product strategy and can automate repetitive work as much as possible and get it implemented at lower costs by a 3D agency you trust.

Minimal processing and production time

The switch to digital 3D product photography is particularly worthwhile because of the incredibly dynamic photo shoot setup. In most cases, a 3D agency uses 3D software to build the scenario of your wishes in the form of a virtual space with all sorts of props and details. Your product is added virtually and cleverly presented.

Just like in a “real” product shoot, you can adjust the set-up, change the light or change the perspective at any time. The 3D product photography methodology is convincing because of its faster implementation and accuracy when choosing perspectives. In contrast to classic product photography, it requires fewer manual steps and can deliver the same or even better work results in a shorter period of time with just a few clicks.

Error-free product presentation and product images

The following situation is known to be the horror scenario of a product marketing manager: The product launch has been planned and communicated, the photo studio has been booked, everything has been set up. But then the problem becomes obvious: The new product has defects such as scratches and dents and did not survive transportation unscathed. And it gets even worse: Some labels are still the old ones from the previous product. What now? Invest a lot of time in retouching or replan everything?

With the switch to 3D product photography, changes to the product — even at the last minute — are not a disruptive factor. A detailed 3D model is not only modelable and adaptable, but also, of course, “error-free”. Sometimes 3D agencies even have to artificially incorporate errors into the product in order to make certain product images look authentic.

Schwarzer beyerdynamic Kopfhörer mit Zoom auf einem Hörer

Flexibility is on the side of decision makers

Detailed briefings, meticulously designed storyboards and perfectly timed processes help all product marketing team members on the big product shooting day to know exactly when, who needs to do, review or approve what. But what to do when decision makers only see the final work results much later, e.g. at large corporations or companies with huge, matrix-like teams? What to do if a better idea came up with a product presentation later on or the decision maker simply wants something else?

When you switch to 3D product photography, you no longer need to worry about playing a decisive role. Good 3D agencies are easily able to make subsequent changes to produced product images. As the person responsible, you don't have to worry about not having achieved the perfect result the first time. As a decision maker, you have the opportunity to have things produced quickly and have them adjusted cost-effectively if they do not meet the requirements.

Switch to artistic freedom and independence thanks to 3D product photography

However, the switch to modern 3D product photography also offers more room for manoeuvre on a strategic and creative level than classic product photography. Many companies are afraid of making major investments in completely new presentations or design decisions. Because what happens if the customer doesn't like the result produced? Even the best product marketing can't do wonders there.

Limitless design freedom

Modern product marketing teams must not only constantly keep an eye on the market development of their industry, but also set targeted new trends in product presentation and strategy. In a world in which many products differ from the competition only by small things, it is important to produce beautiful, disruptive ideas like on an assembly line. But who should implement this technically and in terms of quantity? Traditional product photography is ruled out due to the many manual and technical restrictions, and AI-generated content can already provide a lot of food for thought today, but of course it cannot yet perfectly stage your own product.

The switch to 3D product photography allows marketing teams to let off steam quickly and without restrictions in a creative world: detailed product details, crazy perspectives or incredibly beautiful interiors and exteriors.

prototype. Plan. Make 3D photo shoot. Test. Repeat.

The switch to 3D product photography relieves every product marketing team of the fear of dealing with new ideas. This applies not only to the production of formats for the various marketing channels, but also to the actual product design or, for example, its color variations.

The variety of design options starts with the prototype of a product (3D model). Traditional product photography finds it difficult to help in an intuitive and scalable way at this point: either it has to be photographed again with every change or just retouched. With modern 3D product photography, every step in product development can be easily transferred to the 3D data set and quickly useful formats for marketing be converted.

The particular advantage: You cannot test final developed products (prototypes) or storytelling ideas (creatives) directly and at an early stage on your target group, e.g. via an AB test on your strongest marketing channels. This allows you to proactively incorporate trends, customer feedback and necessary optimizations into your product roadmap and achieve incredible design learnings.

What hurdles must be considered when switching to 3D product photography?

In theory, switching from classic product photography sounds easy and unproblematic. And this is exactly how it will work in your company, as long as you consider a few important things, such as the quality of the 3D data, the selection of the right 3D agency and the intricacies of your internal processes.

Here is an overview of various hurdles that can get in your way when switching to 3D product photography:

“Clean” data is the be-all and end-all when switching to 3D product photography

In order to obtain perfect work results, the cornerstone of modern 3D product photography is the provision of high-quality 3D data. But how do you know how “clean” 3D data is? And what do you do when a company has little or no 3D data available. The good news is that professional 3D agencies are confronted with these challenges every day and have developed smart solutions to help you take this important step, such as scan apps or the like. In order to still reach the project goal as quickly and smoothly as possible, you should use 3D product photography to check what CAD data for your products is already available or not before your first test project. The more data or information you can deliver, the more harmonious the process will feel for you. Your 3D agency will then check the received data for you or, if the quality is poor, supplement these data sets. It is best to get advice from your trusted 3D agency on how you can best help during the preparation phase.

Switching to 3D product photography is difficult without the right 3D agency

Depending on how digitally savvy your company is and how the internal skills and interests of your team members are distributed, a suitable 3D agency must also be found. At first glance, some methods of 3D production or certain correction loops may seem alien to newcomers. Your team's technical equipment (cell phones for scan apps) can also be relevant, e.g. when delivering product references. In order to still get attractive work results quickly and strategically, it is important to bring the right sparring partner on board who optimally complements your team. In case of uncertainty, you can get advice and try out the best way together to digitize your product (product range) and obtain the desired formats.

The switch to 3D product photography influences numerous business processes

The moment you switch to modern 3D product photography, you also need to ask yourself which team members and department will be affected by the transition. In a typical, large industrial or commercial company, outside the product and corporate marketing team, purchasing, the product development/design team and IT are often important stakeholders who must be convinced of the desired change. Try to inform all relevant stakeholders as early as possible and to discuss together how your work processes will change in the future and what new opportunities will be created for effective work.

Special sensitivities can make it difficult to switch to 3D product photography

However, it is not enough to inform all relevant stakeholders about the switch to 3D product photography and to create a project plan with the chosen 3D agency. Don't forget the change process and the team members who have taken on the previous tasks of product photography.

State-of-the-art 3D product photography may eliminate some business trips to exotic locations or special networks in the shooting location; a type of benefit that may have made the work particularly interesting for some team members. Think carefully about how you can create new opportunities for your team that will replace the loss of previous social gathering.

In other cases, large companies have in-house photographers, freelancers, or product photography agencies. Try a change of perspective here too and discuss with affected members or departments whether a redistribution of tasks is also possible, e.g. a classic photographer could still support the corporate marketing team or press department. Someone with a creative interest could also complete retraining to become a creative lead.

How should I plan the actual change for my company?

To make the switch to 3D product photography work for you in practice, it is best to have an experienced 3D agency guide you through the change process. This helps you not to forget an important point and to celebrate successes quickly. Find out more about how a company selects the best 3D agency here.

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