I haven’t done a product shoot in 30 years. It never was my favourite side to photography but when I saw Holly Budge again and she showed me what she had, I couldn’t resist the challenge. She needed a shot of 50 different products both necklaces and bracelets, fabulous colours and all manufactured using eco-friendly materials. In our initial discussions Holly had indicated that she would prefer to see no shadows and have the product on a white background.
I decided to do a test prior to the day of the shoot to show how the product would look in a shadow-less environment. Knowing that most of the shots would have to be shot from directly above filled me with dread. The Bowens Ringflash adapter is clumsy at the best of times and to have to use it on a boom gave me visions of climbing and falling off ladders. So I set up the product on a translucent light table. I underlit the product with an unbrella and used the ringflash contraption as my key.
This was the test shot I sent to Holly, so that we could decide on shadows or shadow-less before the shoot.
It also helped to focus our minds on how we were going to photograph the chains and leather thongs.
The day of the shoot arrived and Holly, myself and her indoors sat down for a pre-shoot briefing. It was agreed that shadow-less didn’t give the product depth or bring it to life. We also all agreed that the necklaces didn’t need the chains or thongs in the shot but concentrate on the ornamental beads and semi-precious stones themselves.
The Set Up.
I used a low coffee table with a double layer of brilliant white backdrop taped to it on which I placed the jewellry. For the key light I boomed a large rectangular soft box at a 45 degree angle to the tabletop and about a foot above. This produced a harder shadow than we wanted. I brought in a white sided Lastolite reflector to balance at a forty five degree angle below subject. After a couple of minor adjustments by moving the reflector back an inch at a time, I was able to mute the shadow and keep the highlighted edges from blurring out. Time for lighting set up took an hour and a quarter. Amazing how picky you have to get with product.
So now we have 50 products to shoot and four hours to style and get the images. Knowing that we were going to have to shoot several of the items from different angles other than directly above I opted to forgo the use of a boom fix for the camera and decided to go hand held. Four hours later and with an aching back the job was complete and it was a wrap. Holly was terrific with the styling and being the client was able to approve each shot as it was taken with the camera tethered to my lap top.
The light setup from my IPhone
The next day was a perfect day for editing. The Royal Wedding to watch on the TV, with coverage starting at 7:30 in the morning. I was finished before the couple left the palace for Clarence House. A twenty four hour turnaround for over 90 edits.
Challenge overcome and customer happy. Here are a couple from the day
You can see more on my Flickr Photostream