One of the best things about photography (from my perspective) is the variety of things to photograph. People, places, things. Photography is a NOUN. This week I was working on a project for a company that sell exquisite hand crafted wooden boxes. The workmanship and intricate marquetry are amazing. But in addition to that, one of the boxes was a small "Gift of Kings" containing frankincense and Myrrh. I'm sure everybody has heard of it but few people have actually seen it. I feel like a little kid again telling everyone about it, but it was pretty neat.
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There are two aspects to great product photography. Setting the mood and feeling of the product and showing detail. The mood shots are what sell the product because they get consumers imagining themselves in that environment and have them hungering for the product or "The Lifestyle" of the product. The detail shots are what reassure the consumer that the quality of what they're buying is top notch.
With these product photographs, the mood and feeling is a warm and cozy evening with friends playing intimate board games while sharing a drink and some great stories. So the photographs are taken in a setting and with colors that reflect that warm mood.
So here's a behind the scenes look at what it takes to great a lifestyle shot for something like this. There are a total of 5 lights in this scene. One that provides a warm light on the background. There's a large softbox providing the main light source from the back left. Back lighting like this provides a dark and mysterious mood and also puts the light in the same direction as though it was coming from that little tiny table lamp.
The large softbox on the right is just providing a little bit of fill from the front/side to show some detail but keep the overall dark, warm, evening feeling.
Then there are two small strobes with warming gels on them One is hidden behind the reflector shining directly at the table lamp. The lamp normally has a 25 watt bulb in it and wouldn't even show up in the image unless we used a 3 or 4 second exposure. So instead we blast it with a strobe to get that warmth and make it look like it's giving out more light than it really is.
On the right, just to the side of those glasses is another small strobe with a warming gel on it to add warmth to the glasses and also hitting the side of the lamp for an extra warm "glowy" look.
Virtually all of the flashes need flagging off to prevent their light from reflecting in the table and their position and the position of the products is such that we don't get any direct reflections back into the camera lens. This is incredibly difficult with these products because they are all so highly lacquered and naturally shiny.
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