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Meet Charlie and Fred
I have wanted to broaden my horizons and venture into product photography for a while; I love photographing people but there has always been something about taking pictures of pretty, stylized inanimate objects that has been attractive to me. So when Nicki and Jane asked me to photograph their Charlie and Fred candles, I pretty much jumped at the opportunity (send your wishes out to the universe and she will respond!)
There are a few tips I thought I’d share which might help you to get perfect product pictures.
This is a biggy as always with any photography. So think about it carefully. To help you make your decision you need to know that natural light will give you soft light and artificial/flash lighting will give you harder light. So you need to decide what kind of a “feel” you are after.
For the stylised shoot of the Charlie and Fred candles, I opted for natural light to give a soft and airy feel. I used an aperture of about f6.3 to capture enough detail of the products but pushed the background out of focus. I did fill in shadows using my speedlight bounced off the ceiling, which maintained the overall soft light.
For the individual products which were going to be used for customers to choose for purchase, we wanted a cleaner feel. The focus was just one product and so I used my strobe lights which gives a harder more direct light. As I used an artificial light source, which I could control, I could use a smaller aperture f11 to provide greater detail of each product. The main goal is to make sure the product is evenly lit and that the branding is not obscured by any glare. This means positioning of my lights is key.
This can be easy to ignore and can easily mess up a perfectly good photograph. Again, a few decisions need to be made beforehand. Are you looking for your photograph to tell a story, to provide a particular mood? In which case a background of some sort would be beneficial so you can see the candle in some context.
For the stylized shoot we wanted to give the impression of the candles being in a home. We wanted to create a light, and airy mood. I shot the candles on a white table top with a window and a large plant in the background. The plant and window are out of focus but it is clear what it is. It gives the at-home feel without providing too much detail of the home which is not the focus of the photograph. Things to watch out for are too many bold distracting colours. The colours in the background should blend in together and not be blocky.
For the individual products I used a white vinyl backdrop. I didn’t want the eye to be drawn to anything else other than the detail of the products that a customer would purchase. I wanted an almost clinical mood.
So once you’ve made decisions on the lighting and where you want to shoot, make sure your product is in tip top condition. This sounds obvious but it’s easy to miss slightly wonky labels… which you won’t miss in post-production when you have your grid up and every photograph has a label that’s ever so slightly bent!
Also any finger prints, specks of dust, little nicks or creases will be glaringly obvious when you come to look at your photographs so save yourself a lot of post processing time and tears by giving the products a thorough inspection before you begin.
Keywords: commercial photography, Hampshire photographer, lighting, photographer, post production, product photography
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