Photographer Johann Clausen and Apple’s magnificent packaging

Photographer Johann Clausen recently took up an unusual project—capturing Apple’s empty packaging (and not its products). While most might throw away the packaging in which they received their Apple devices, some still admire it.

He captured different Apple packaging including cardboard encasing from AirPods, Apple Pencil, AirPods Max, and more as profiled in a Wallpaper* post. To be honest, out of their original setup, it was a hard time identifying which products some of the packagings within Johann’s photos belonged to.

Here’s how he says he was inspired to capture Apple’s packaging.

“The inner part of the packaging of my AirPods was flying around the studio and looked kind of interesting. So I held it in front of the camera and started playing around with it. They are well-engineered and well-designed white cardboard objects which are negative shapes of the objects they contain.”

Apple’s packaging is one of the most well-designed packagings I’ve ever seen. It has the kind of simplicity that calls people to itself.

Apple Packaging Photography by Johann Clausen
Left: AirPods’ hollow encasing. Right: Apple Pencil’s hollow encasing. Source: Johann Clausen at Wallpaper*

Like most packaging out there that attempts to actively attract users using flashy colors, gradients, and iridescence; Apple’s packaging follows the less-traveled path and unassumingly just sits there on a shelf, offering a sense of simplicity in a chaotic world. Your eyes, though, become instantly curious.

The Wallpaper* post puts it more eloquently:

Clean lines, whiter-than-white elegance, and direct, no-fuss ultra-minimalism. These are the qualities that give Apple its unmistakable Apple-ness.

But Apple’s product packaging, though the source of less limelight, seems to involve almost as much artistic consideration as the device it shrouds. Every inch is considered: superfluity is a sin, and simplicity provides ecstasy in a messy world. 

Clausen, on the other hand, says the process of photographing Apple’s packagings felt like “utopian architectural models.”

“We were surrounded by all the different white objects resembling each other,’ he says. ‘After a while, we started to forget the scale of the objects and the small packages suddenly became spacious and imposing. At this point, it felt like photographing utopian architectural models rather than just packaging.”

Attempting to logically describe the packaging, he says:

“They are well-engineered and well-designed white cardboard objects which are negative shapes of the objects they contain. These supposedly unimportant objects convey the “spirit” of the Apple products that have taken so much importance in many of our lives. They speak the same visual language and give off a familiar, comforting aura.”

It’s also interesting to note the way he captures these photos. They are definitely some of the best photos of Apple’s packaging I’ve seen. What makes them great, though, is the way each element of the packaging is given importance. He individually captured the cardboard skeleton that comes along the AirPods Max headphones alongside the hollow components of Apple Pencil and AirPods Pro boxes.

One of the major elements that helped highlight the subjects was the backlight. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the AirPods’ hollow encasing emanates light from within, lending it amusing credence.

I am a big fan of Apple’s packaging as well, which makes me totally understand where Clausen’s passion for photographing them comes from. Unlike most people I’ve known that own Apple products, I like to hold onto the boxes my devices shipped in.

I even get a kick out of opening them once in a while. It provides a feeling of novelty, that my MacBook is still new; that this is the box my iPhone first came in two years ago; that I love this weirdly long (but magnificent) Apple Watch Series 3 box.

After all, holding onto boxes is also good for resale value.

I’ve included some photos that I personally liked in this post. However, if you intend to view the entire gallery, Wallpaper* has all of them alongside some riveting commentary.