What could be easier? Photographing a product on a white background for an Exeter based client who has an Amazon outlet as well as an ecommerce website? Well in truth the client wasn’t happy with their existing photographs and looking through Amazon’s listings for similar products it’s not difficult to find horror stories.
Quality Clients Understand the Value of Photography
So what’s needed first? Well, to be honest a customer who cares helps a lot and this customer is passionate about quality; product quality, service quality and quality of presentation, which is where we come in.
Quality Products Photograph Best
It sounds obvious doesn’t it but yes excellent products really do photograph the best.
Recently whilst photographing a manufacturing factory in Cornwall I photographed a man examining small plastic goods under a loupe. It might seem odd but this is what consumers can do with an ecommerce website, so the goods need to be top-notch. And here, if I can return to this quality client might I add that these products pass the close scrutiny test. Apart from dust spotting these images had minimal post-processing.
Studio Photography of Products
Photography is about light and under studio conditions the light is controlled, it is in effect created, it is modified and most importantly it is replicated consistently. Every light source has a colour temperature, think warmth or coolness, imagine a summer’s sunset or a winter afternoon. The problem is that viewers, being fairly human don’t process light the way that cameras and computers do. We automatically modify the received light into perceived light, the two things are similar but not the necessarily same. Photography allows us to make side by side comparisons of the moment after the moment, to be critical and to compare in a way that memories might modulate the original perception.
All of my photography is shot in RAW but make no mistake the aim is to get the final image captured ‘in the camera’ and not created on the computer. Photographers have the ability to measure the colour temperature and if needed to alter it at capture or with post-processing. With a set such as this the colour temperature of light is balanced and checked throughout the shoot, this gives an even baseline to work from and ultimately helps the client to offer an honest and consistent representation of the products.
Studio Photography Technique
These items were primarily lit from both the left side and above with softboxes, reflectors were added to the right side as well as the front around the camera. In a couple of the shots the top softbox was turned off, by doing this the light become a little harder and the leather looks different – this was done on purpose. It’s no different to portrait photography, I will leave you to ponder the similarities. Remember these photographs were primarily intended for Amazon. The photos are about documenting and communicating the quality of the product in its entirety as honestly as is possible.
Prior to shooting the whole range some test shots were emailed to the client to check that the feel of the leather was what they were looking for.
Although shooting with a relatively short flash duration, these Bowens Geminis run at around 1/2700th (sec), the camera is mounted on a heavy tripod and released with a wireless remote and a delayed shutter to avoid shake and mirror bounce shake. This is the obsessive end of things but cameras such as the D800e thrive on it. The image capture is taken in tethered mode and the files are transferred direct to the high-end Mac for immediate appraisal. The set-up and strip-down takes more time than the shooting so it’s silly not to get it right in the camera (technically on the computer when tethered). Typically bracketed shots might be taken, exposures above and below the metered image, I did with this set but throughout I used the ‘as metered’ images throughout the set.
The Proof is in The Pudding
By late afternoon the client was supplied with a folder of hi-resolution files as well as a further collection cropped and sized for Amazon, delivery was by a web download meaning that directors in The Middle East could also have immediate access to the files. Within a couple of hours the existing images on the client’s Amazon shop had been replaced with these ones, the following morning the client had updated their ecommerce site photos and then booked a further shoot of more products.
I’ll take that as a ‘yes’ then?