My students are learning to use 35mm cameras, and their first assignment is to photograph a product for an advertisement. It’s a good way for them to use the various settings on their cameras, and try new techniques with a subject that is completely patient and long suffering. The catch is that they have to use available light–not typical of advertising, but it keeps the project simple.
They’re required to use long and wide angle lenses, long and shallow depth of field, and to mix up as many angles, perspectives and lighting situations as they can come up with. The results are usually pretty fun!
Michael Ray keeps a blog about food photography. His article about “Making food photography look natural” has plenty of elements that apply to the product assignment. I’m looking forward to seeing my students’ work.