Wherever you look these days, somebody is using the visual image intending to persuade you to buy their products. They appear online, in print, and with television commercials. They pop up on your smart phone. And new media technology even means that when you are travelling around, a bus shelter can display an advertisement relevant to your buying preferences because it knows you are there, simply by monitoring the movement of your mobile phone. One local bus company near me is trialling free broadband on its services. You can almost guarantee that adverts that appear on your computer will be targeted at buyers of products and services from local business premises.
And someone has to photograph those products.
It’s a hot day, your bus or train pulls up at its stop, there’s an ice-cream parlour nearby and this image is suddenly right in front of you – tempted?
Big Brother has arrived.
Product photography covers everything from the tiniest luxury items, (see my article on Jewellery Photography), through to gifts and flowers, (which can be found in the floristry section of my Flower Photography article), right up to large items like cars.
Now I have to admit that my favourite newspaper advert of all time didn’t involve photography at all. It was a whole page of a broadsheet national newspaper with one image and four words. The image was the Volkswagen logo centrally placed with masses of white space around it, and in the bottom right hand corner, quite small, there were four words, “Need We Say More?”
But if you think about it, that should be principal of all product photography. Shoot the subject so that it leaps off the page or the screen, and don’t surround it with clutter.
Hence the reason commercial studios have a white infinity wall. There are a couple of links at the bottom of this article about building your own for the home studio.
Almost invariably you should use LED lighting and a tripod for product photography.
For very small articles use a light tent – see an example of Fotogenic’s own light tent range at http://www.fotogenic.com.au/Tent_Cube_Studio_Lighting
I have mentioned this in other articles, and it applies equally here. Just about everything I write on macrophotography applies here too.
Go up in product size, and you go up in background equipment size. And the moment you get into something that won’t fit on a table top you really do need an infinity curve. Product photography nowadays is so demanding that a cloth or paper backdrop will just not suffice any more, unless you are planning to spend several hours on the computer carefully blanking out the background.
And then you have to start thinking about all the other normal things that you do with any photograph. The background infinity lighting is almost certainly created by three large soft boxes – two of the vertical each side aimed at the background, and a third above and behind the subject.
Lighting of the image here appears to be a main light to the right, slightly behind and appreciably above the subject. There’s almost certainly a big reflector just out of shot to the left and gentle fill to the left of the photographer to create texture in the tyre tread. That’s at least five lights and one reflector.
Finally, I mentioned creating your own infinity curve. The link below is a guide to doing just that.
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mrwizard/wkshps/photo/cyc/SECTION.gif ©1998 Dale Austin
Product Photography – original article © 2011 Barney Douglas at http://www.bdfoto.co.uk and http://www.bd-shop.co.uk
Article produced for Fotogenic Photographic Equipment of 3a Averill Street, Rhodes, NSW 21380, Australia
The republication or reproduction of any part of this article without the permission of the both Fotogenic and Barney Douglas is a breach of copyright.