How to Use Photography on Your Custom Packaging

May 22, 2018 by Erin Behan

Packaging design that turns heads often incorporates photography. Using photos on your package makes good sense as humans are naturally attracted to images (hello, selfies!), and just the right picture can help snap everything into place when it comes to perfecting your custom box design.

customize your package

To get off on the right foot, make sure you ask yourself the following four questions:

Does my photo reflect my brand?
If you choose to use photography in your custom package design, you want to follow the same guidelines as you would when choosing images around your company or event's overall branding.

The number one question you want to ask and answer around your photo is "What does this photo communicate?" or another way to think about it is "What sort of story does this photo tell?" The answer should be specific to your overall brand and brand story, and it should be consistent with other imagery across your brand. If you have a brand style guide, make sure your photo matches up with what's recommended in the guide.

custom beer packs

Is my photo properly formatted?
When selecting (or shooting) your photo for use on your custom box, it's important that you're using a high-quality image for upload into the Distinct Packaging designer tool. Using the right quality image ensures that what's on your box is the best version of your photo. You also need to make sure the photo is corrected for optimal light, contrast, color, and composition.

For the best results when using Distinct Packaging's Designer tool, format photographs, logos, and graphics to at least 300 dpi (dots per inch), with transparent backgrounds. This gives good, crisp graphics. Make sure you're sourcing from the original file; images taken from the Internet usually won't work as they are generally 72 dpi.

To make sure everything is just as you want it, zoom in on each panel (Front, Back, Left, Right, Top and Bottom). Don't be afraid to magnify these crucial areas in your artwork to make sure things look as you intend.

custom shipping box

What color box am I printing on?
No matter what design elements your box incorporates (photos, text, graphics, etc.), at Distinct Packaging the color white doesn't print—instead it's rendered as clear. That means that when printing on a kraft colored box, anything that's white shows up as the color of the box itself, which in the case of kraft creates a look that resembles sepia in tone. If you want your whites to appear as true white, choose to print on a white box.

custom mailer boxes

Am I following the rules of good design in my photo placement?
Once the quality and editing details are in order, it's time to decide how to use and place the photo. As with any design element, the options are limitless, but we have a few guidelines to keep you on the right track.

1. Maintain symmetry in your packaging design. A subtle, yet critical design consideration, symmetry registers in the mind subconsciously. Design elements that aren't displayed in a symmetrical fashion can look out of balance and detract from the final product.

2. Less is more. The most elegant, appealing custom box designs are usually quite minimalist.

3. Keep pictures and graphics to a minimum. Photos should demonstrate what the product is or does in a very clear manner.

4. Get feedback from friends or colleagues. They can be your best critics, and can give you ideas you hadn't even thought of. You can "Share" your designs within Distinct Packaging’s Designer tool.

For more tips on creating a box using tried-and-true design principles, check out Mistakes Not to Make When Designing a Box.

How do I get started on creating my custom packaging?
To get started on your own custom packaging design—with or without photographs—head over to Distinct Packaging where you can customize corrugated boxes, folding cartons, and beverage containers, however you'd like. Once you've selected your box type and size, you have three options for designing your packaging:

1. By working online in Distinct Packaging's Designer tool, where you're automatically taken after selecting a box type and size. Once your design is complete, place your order right in the tool.

2. By working offline on a downloadable PDF, available on every product page and customized to box type and size. Once your design is complete, upload it into the tool and place your order.

3. By requesting a quote. This option is for customers who have a special request. Everything from custom sizes to complex inserts and more can be accommodated at Distinct Packaging.
Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.


Distinct Packaging video
Get on our list! Be the first to know about big discounts and special promotions, plus get our blog delivered to your inbox.


Recent Posts