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How to shoot sneaker photography: up your shoe photography game

Product photography
(Image credit: Neil Shearer)

My route to becoming a professional photographer was not what you might call obvious. I studied chemistry at university and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years before finally making the jump into running my own business. That was seven years ago, and I really wish I’d made the move sooner. 

My business started out focusing on all aspects of sport – from athletes and personal trainers to clothing brands and footwear companies. It wasn’t until three years ago that I really caught the product photography bug. 

• Read more: Best cameras for product photography (opens in new tab)

I’m a big believer in the power of personal work: every year I will shoot a personal project, something that will add to my portfolio or is designed specifically to attract new clients. After following along with a retouching tutorial where they worked on a shoe and broke it down into its elements, I found myself hooked.

(Image credit: Neil Shearer)
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I started experimenting with shooting sneakers in a bright and colorful way. This developed during lockdown into creating eye-catching composites. Now I find my clients are a real mix: some prefer the more traditional style, while others are looking for something new and exciting. 

What I love about product photography is the creativity involved. Building sets or creating them digitally is a huge passion of mine.

See more of Neil's work on his website (opens in new tab) and his Instagram (opens in new tab).

5 top tips for sneaker photography

(Image credit: Neil Shearer)
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01 Create floating products

By suspending your products, you will create more of a three-dimensional look. You can use invisible thread for this, but your product must have stopped moving before shooting. Then the only thing limiting where you can go with the image is your imagination. 

(Image credit: Neil Shearer)
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02 Be more dynamic

Capturing motion, either real or perceived, in a still image can be challenging, but it is a great way to produce photos that really stand out. You can create motion lines
like this in Photoshop, or add splashes of water, powder explosions, or anything else you can think of! 

(Image credit: Neil Shearer)
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03 Tell a story

When you are shooting for a client, they often want the image to highlight a particular selling point of the shoe, like its weight or durability. If you can tell the viewer a story in just a single frame, it will really appeal to potential new clients. This shoe has a world-leading graphene sole, which provides an amazing grip. By shooting the photo like this you can easily convey its distinctiveness to potential customers.

(Image credit: Neil Shearer)
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04 Introduce the use of models

To really give your viewer an idea of what a given product can do, you will need to use a model. The image should be well-lit and composed – with perhaps just a little
extra emphasis on the shoes!

(Image credit: Neil Shearer)
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05 Get creative!

Showing products in an unexpected location is a great way of grabbing the attention of your viewer. Try to incorporate features of the shoe with the background you choose. Although this is quite an old technique now, it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of fun once in a while.

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