As an experienced underwater photographer I’ve worked with Water Babies for a number of years. Water Babies are a great organisation and it’s a real privilege to work with parents, children and across the country. The premise is very simple: I photograph children as they swim underwater and parents have an opportunity to purchase a memorable and unique image. As a parent myself I know how valuable these photos can be.

More recently I’ve been doing some rather different work with WaterBabies. Instead of photographing the children swimming, I’ve been doing some work for Water Babies themselves as they needed updated branding and product photography for their range of Water Babies towels and ponchos.

In this blog post I’ll be sharing how I went about the photoshoot and some of the things that I have to consider when doing a branding and product photography photoshoot.

Water Babies Towel - Photos By Spencer Cobby Photography

Branding and Product Photography: The Brief

If I’m honest, much of the time clients don’t really know what they want until they have got it in front of them. This is particularly true when I’m working with a client for the first time – or it’s the first time that they’ve commissioned a photographer. As a photographer I am always looking to to understand what a client is looking for and ask them as many questions as I can. These questions then inform me when I approach the brief.

In the case of Water Babies they mostly know what they wanted as they have produced many product images before. I had a lot of direction on the day and days prior to the shoot but still I had to go through my usual line of questioning to make sure I provided them with the images they needed.

Another important feature of this photoshoot is that I wasn’t necessarily being commissioned to be completely creative. This is an important part of commercial photography that is often overlooked. Water Babies have a huge range of stock images that have been produced by multiple photographers. It’s very important that these images have a degree of conformity and aren’t all completely different in style and theme. I therefore needed to produce photographs which mimic some of the key features of other Water Babies photographers’ work. The photos needed to fit in with the current Water Babies branding but also complement their new product.

Water Babies asked me to photograph their range of towels and ponchos. They wanted warm, cosy images of children wrapped up in the products and interacting with one another. The images needed to be clean, striking and set against a white background.

Water Babies Photoshoot: On The Day

They say that you should never work with children or animals (!) but the reality is that you just need to be well prepared and ready for the unexpected. When you’re working with children you need to be very patient and understand that things don’t always go exactly as you’ve planned – but that you’ll almost certainly find that you’ve got the shots that you need at the end of the day.

Here are some of the key things that I was focused on during the photoshoot:

  • The children needed to look both cute and approachable. We wanted the children to be relaxed but it was also important that they were positioned correctly – either looking into the camera or looking in a particular direction – to fit the requirements that Waterbabies had of the images.
  • We needed to ensure that we had equally strong images of each of the different products in order to cover the whole range. Sometimes it’s tempting when doing product photography to focus on what’s working well, but we needed to ensure that all of the products were covered.
  • Variety was also very important. You’ll see that the children are doing different things in different images – sitting, standing, crawling etc – because we didn’t just want replicas of the same image. There is always a balance to be had between variety and consistency of branding.
  • I was very conscious that the ponchos and towels – which parents can also sew their children’s swimming badges onto – are primarily designed to keep children warm after they’ve been swimming. As a parent I wanted the images to make it very clear exactly how the products make a difference – keeping chills away and keeping babies cosy. I was keen to make sure that the photos showed this.

Technical Considerations

I knew that the images were going to be photoshopped onto a white background so that they would fit the overall feel of the Water Babies store. This meant that I needed to get the exposure and aperture right – and ensure that there is enough space around the children to crop out the background whilst retaining the natural feel of the shoot that was so important.

After the shoot I worked hard to edit and process the images and get them into a format that Water Babies could use ‘out of the box’. I pride myself in being much quicker than the industry average when it comes to post production work – commercial clients always appreciate this as they want to take advantage of the momentum that a photoshoot generates.