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The Anatomy of a Beauty Product Photo Shoot

By: George Carter,
Posted: February 2, 2010, from the February 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • The catalyst for great ideas—and subsequent execution—for a photo shoot is a first-class brief.
  • The outcome of a successful photo shoot is consistent with the brand image already established and creates a composition that complements the packaging, design and layout, and also creates excitement, energy and interest.
  • Both group shots of an entire line and shots of each component are vital to brands, as these are used in virtually all marketing media.


Murad was launched in 1989, positioned as America’s first modern doctor brand. The clinically backed skin care line—founded by dermatologist Howard Murad, M.D., associate clinical professor of medicine at UCLA—was created with the goal of making healthy, beautiful skin something everyone can attain. Further, Murad’s skin condition-specific formulas were intended to transform both in-salon care and home care from simple feel-good experiences to real results-oriented treatments. All Murad products are based upon Dr. Murad’s work to uncover the link between loss of intracellular water and the systemic dysfunction that erodes health and accelerates aging—principles the brand has trademarked The Science of Cellular Water. Because Murad’s unique position in the market is offering products that rebuild skin’s health and strength by optimizing intracellular water levels, water is often incorporated as a prop in photographs for advertising campaigns and collateral marketing/sales material.

Briefing a Photographer

The catalyst for great ideas (and subsequent execution) is a first-class brief, and the importance of visual comps to set direction cannot be forgotten.

Initial comps were sent to the team at Nuvisions, a photography-based catalog design studio undertaking photography for Murad’s latest campaign, and strategy and goals for the shoot were discussed. It was clear that there was a need to stay consistent with the clean brand image already established and create a composition that would complement the packaging, design and layout and also create excitement, energy and interest.

The strategy included the element of water to introduce The Science of Cellular Water through a more obvious flow of water wrapping the product line. The goal was to capture the consumer’s imagination. Through discussions, initial ideas began to evolve as the photography team brought creativity and expertise as to how it could achieve the water effects and movement across the products.