Composition and styling in cosmetic photography

In the captivating realm of cosmetic photography, the art of composition and styling takes center stage, creating a visual narrative that captivates and showcases the beauty and charm of the products at hand. From the…

Composition and styling in cosmetic photographyComposition and styling in cosmetic photography
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In the captivating realm of cosmetic photography, the art of composition and styling takes center stage, creating a visual narrative that captivates and showcases the beauty and charm of the products at hand. From the meticulous arrangement of cosmetics and props to the careful selection of backgrounds, lighting, and colors, each element plays a vital role in creating captivating images that resonate with your audience.

In this article we will delve into the world of composition and styling in cosmetic photography, exploring how these elements come together to craft stunning visuals that embody your brand’s essence and captivate the viewer’s attention.

Cosmetic photography styling

Cosmetic photography styling
Cosmetic photography styling

To create visually captivating cosmetic images, there are four main aspects of styling you should pay attention to – product, props, backgrounds, and model.

Product styling involves appealingly arranging cosmetic products, considering factors such as color coordination, symmetry, and hierarchy. It focuses on showcasing the products in their best light, highlighting textures, and creating a sense of luxury or desire. For example, you can use macro shots to provide your audience with an in-depth look of a makeup swatch for a lipstick or an eyeshadow.

Prop styling adds depth and context to the composition by incorporating relevant objects that enhance the overall aesthetic. These props could include brushes, sponges, mirrors, or natural elements like flowers or seashells. In this case, you set your cosmetic product in position and arrange the props around it to obtain a beautiful composition.

Background styling involves selecting the appropriate backdrops or settings that complement and accentuate the cosmetics. It could be a clean, minimalistic background to direct focus solely on the product, or a more elaborate and themed scene to convey a specific mood or narrative. It is very important to coordinate it with your theme and product to obtain a visually pleasing image.

Model styling is essential when featuring makeup on a person. It involves careful selection and application of makeup, considering factors like skin tone, features, and the desired look or theme. It helps show your audience what the makeup is going to look like, creating a visual link between the product and the buyers.

Regardless of what type of cosmetic photography styling you have in mind, keeping a close eye on how all these elements mix, you get an engaging image that showcases your products and resonates with your audience.

Different types of composition for cosmetic photography

Different types of composition for cosmetic photography
Different types of composition for cosmetic photography

There are different types of compositions you can use in cosmetic photography to create visually appealing and impactful images. In the following section we will provide you with four methods to create an appealing and eye-catching composition.

Less is more

In some cases, the most attractive cosmetic images are simple and elegant, showing only the product. For example, you can use this type of composition to highlight brand features, such as a logo embossed into the lipstick or exclusive patterns on eyeshadow palettes.

Keep the background simple (a different shade, a mirror, or a plain white background) and experiment with different perspectives and angles. Use lighting to create a certain mood, and challenge yourself to use as few props as possible. For more inspiration, you can take a look at our portfolio.

Add color with cosmetic swatches

A great way to help your customers better understand your cosmetic product is to use samples of the product, and attractively present them. This simple but effective way of putting things together requires little equipment and a lot of creativity.

Patterns can range from simple lines or dots to alluring and complex shapes with different products. Add different background colors to highlight the samples that stand out, or even incorporate the product itself into the shot. This gives the image an authentic feel and makes a versatile promotional photo.

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Monochromatic image

Colors are very relevant in photography, and monochromatic cosmetic photos can be an effective advertisement for your product. Colors affect mood, so experiment with different colored backgrounds and see how they can affect the overall atmosphere of the image.

You can get creative and incorporate different textures into the image to evoke various emotions and moods. For example, you can switch from a matte texture to a glossy surface depending on which cosmetic item you want to showcase.

Challenge yourself even more and add intriguing lighting effects. Single-color photos require good lighting, especially around the edges of the product to make it stand out from the background. But you can also get creative by using different camera settings and different types of shadows.

Flat lay composition

When using a flat-lay composition for cosmetic photography, some key considerations include creating a focal point by placing the main product or the most visually appealing item in the center or at an intersection of imaginary lines.

The rule of thirds can be applied to divide the frame into a grid and strategically place the products along those lines, creating balance and visual interest. Playing with different heights and layers by using props like brushes, flowers or other beauty tools can add depth and dimension to the composition.

Similarly, incorporating color coordination, such as using products with complementary shades or incorporating backgrounds in neutral hues, can help enhance the overall look. Experimenting with different arrangements, angles, and lighting setups allows for creative compositions that effectively showcase the cosmetics.

Choose the cosmetics you wish to showcase and think about what style works best for them and what composition can enhance your product features and beauty. After you carefully consider these two elements, it’s time to set everything up.

How to set it up

How to set it up
How to set it up

To make your product photo shoot a successful one, lighting, background, angles, and positioning are just a few elements you should bear in mind.

Lighting is important in any kind of photo shoot, but it’s a crucial factor in cosmetic images. To make your products look as natural as possible, the lighting should be as close to natural light as possible. Stand near a window and shoot through a sheer curtain to avoid direct sunlight. This will give you a soft and natural light source.

To create a white background, you can use a white sheet, white foam core, or a background designed for product photography. This type of background is perfect for beginners, but it also helps your product to be more visible and gives the image a clean and professional look. In addition, the neutral color tones allow you to adjust the shadows in post-production.

Once you have set up the lighting and background, you can start arranging your objects and positioning your product. Instead of photographing the product directly, you should shoot it from a slightly higher angle. This will create a head-on appearance while providing softer shadows and concealing any hidden styling elements in the final photo. Remember to take several shots to have more options to choose from.

Experiment and shoot from different angles, as it could result in an outstanding image invisible from just a single angle. When you have finished photographing your product, you should make samples.

CGI and Cosmetic photography

CGI and Cosmetic photography
CGI and Cosmetic photography

A great tool that can help you create exquisite compositions and styling for your cosmetics and a perfect alternative to traditional photography is CGI. Computer-generated imagery can greatly enhance cosmetic photography through several benefits.

Firstly, CGI enables the creation of highly realistic virtual products, eliminating the need for physical prototypes and costly photo shoots. This enables faster product iterations and changes and ensures an accurate representation before production.

In addition, CGI offers more control over lighting, textures, and reflections, allowing for precise customization and the creation of flawless product visualizations. With CGI, your cosmetic brand can showcase entire product lines in different colors and variations without extensive photo shoots.

Furthermore, CGI offers limitless creative possibilities for creating stunning images that can be used in various marketing materials, from print to digital. We provide you with all the ratios you need to use the digital version of your product for YouTube, TikTok, and other social media channels. Let us help you reach a wider audience.

Ultimately, CGI streamlines the cosmetic photography process, saves time and resources, and provides greater flexibility and creative freedom.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, composition and styling are critical aspects of cosmetic photography. The careful arrangement of products, creative use of props, and adherence to principles such as the rule of thirds, result in visually appealing compositions that highlight the main product.

Thoughtful prop selection, background choices, and lighting techniques enhance the overall aesthetic and convey the desired message. By mastering compositions and styling, cosmetic photographers can create captivating images that successfully capture attention and make a strong visual impact.


What is styling in cosmetic photography?

To put it simply, style means how you compose, shoot, and process the photos. For cosmetic photography, it represents how you showcase your cosmetic items to your audience and potential buyers. Therefore, it has to be aesthetically pleasing and flattering to your cosmetic star products.

What other tips and tricks can I apply for cosmetic photography?

There are a few quick elements you can check before you begin your photoshoot.

  • Use the right lighting. Make sure you’ve adjusted the tone of the colors, to look as natural as possible. Set up the dominant light source correctly, so the light illuminates the product. If natural light is unavailable, bring your light source. Also, set it up away from the product, as direct light can create glare if the cosmetic product has a glossy package.
  • Clean the cosmetic item thoroughly to get rid of dust and fingerprints.
  • If you know the ingredients of your cosmetic item, use them as props in the photo.
  • Be consistent with the brand identity.

Is style important in cosmetic photography?

Yes, it is important. It’s a crucial part of your business that connects your audience with your brand, from the first impression. You can truly enhance it through professional photography, so your business gets recognized among the competition.

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Martin Pitonak

Martin Pitonak is a creative professional and entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the creative industry. His passion for helping businesses in all areas of visual marketing sets him apart in a variety…