I’ve been doing some product photography lately. The subject matter, I have to admit, could have been more interesting, but I have actually enjoyed it. Studio photography can be regarded as quite a sterile process, and photographing individual pieces of plain white dinnerware certainly isn’t particularly inspirational. I’d spent the previous week artworking the packaging so I knew the products would be packaged in printed kraft paper boxes. I wanted to stop them disappearing into a white background in the photos, so I decided to use a background of brown packing paper.
I quite like the process of photographing things in an ultra controlled environment, making tweaks here and there and the ability to keep things consistent with micro adjustments to get the image exactly as you want it.
Photographing these items was quite an eye opener. I became slightly obsessed with ensuring there were no reflections, and dealing with unexpected problems on the fly was only partially successful. I came to realise that my two portrait light set up was actually quite limiting, as was the space I was in. Either that or I just needed a massive piece if foamboard to stop the reflections. And an assistant to hold it.
I was reminded of a conversation I’d had with a photographer who shoots for the Christie’s catalogue about shooting highly reflective items, in particular conical or cylindrical ones. In addition to surrounding the item with polystyrene boards, the camera is pointed through a hole in one, then just a small bit of retouching is required to remove the reflection of the camera lens from the final image. This gives you a smooth gradient in the colour of the item you are photographing, rather than reflecting everything around it- camera, lights, photographer and anything else in the studio.
It’s all a learning curve, and after each shoot I will be more prepared for the next. As long as I can find a way to transport the massive boards…