Bring On The Product

Last week I had the opportunity to photograph a national brand of purse for a friend of mine. She has some new ideas on how to customize the purse for each consumers personality and wanted to show these on her website. When doing product photography like this, it’s always best to look at what have been done before so as the photographer, you know how to photograph it so it all matches the rest of the line. Sounds easy enough, right?

After doing some research, I soon found out that all of the rest of the photos were taken as a “high key” photos. This meant that the product was on a white background. This is usually the case as it best shows off the product that you are trying to sell. I see a lot of this with ebay photos as well, however it’s easy to miss the key (think gray background instead of white) and the photo seems to loose its pop. Having shot full body poses of people for magazines, I was familiar with this technique.

 This is what the final product looks like.

I don’t have a product release for this line of purses so I’m afraid that I can’t show you the actual finished photos. But, with everything set up I thought that this might make a good demo for anyone who might be interested in this technique. After I was finished with the purses, I placed a flashlight in the place of the purse so I could show you how this was done. Here is the set up photo.

 The “high key” studio.

This in a nutshell is how this is done. I’ll start from the back and work my way forward. In the back I have a background stand that consists of two stands and an aluminum pole. I really like this set up as it breaks down into a three-foot case and is easy to take on locations to hold different backgrounds for headshots. On the background stand is a roll of white paper. The roll is kind of over kill for this application, but is saves buying another roll of paper. The roll in nine foot wide by thirty six foot long. I used the kitchen table as a stand and to hold the paper. I unrolled about six feet of the paper and clamped it at the top with “A” clamps to keep it from unwinding. Next, I set up two SB-800 flashes to light the background (circled in red). Here is the secret when doing something like this. The background needs to be about two stops brighter than the subject. This is what gives you the white background. The flashes are on air cushion stands and are set to 24mm. This will give me a nice wide beam of light. To light the product it self, I have two more SB800 in front of the product with shoot through umbrellas. These are set at a little lower setting as to not blow out the details in the product. All of the flashes are fitted with the new PocketWizard Flex units so I can control them from the camera position. The camera itself is on a tripod and it fitted with a remote release so I don’t introduce any camera shake during the exposure.

I took a few test photos and adjust my flash settings. On the camera, I was at ISO 100, f/16 at 1/250. I like to use a higher depth of field setting, as this will ensure that all of the details in the product will be sharp. The nice thing about this set up is that once it’s to your liking, all you have to do is swap out the products. We had a few purses and pieces of jewelry to do and once we got going it didn’t take to long.

Here is the other bonus, since it was photographed correctly at the camera stage, all I had to do at the computer was sharpen and save for the client. It pays to spend a little extra time at the camera stage to save you hours at the computer stage.

I hope this was informative. Give this a try. You don’t need a nine-foot piece of paper for this to work. All you need is a piece of paper big enough for what you are trying to shoot.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


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