Since I’ve been photographing product this month, I thought this would be a good topic to discuss. I will try to cover a bit about how to photograph product and what to consider when taking on a clients project for photographing this kind of product.
One of the big projects I had this month was photographing about six saddles. The client was Verhan Saddlery and they wanted images for their print advertising and their website.
One of the first things I consider when accepting a job like this is studio space, timing, and basically if I can do a good job for the client. Although I do most of my photography outside in natural light, this job required dedicated and specific lighting that I need to control! Ahhh, lighting! Exactly where I want it… yeah. For the studio space, I do have enough room for this job. The timing on this job was a couple days so it gave me time to shoot the job and do all the post production for them as well.
Let’s Start this Job!
First, I hung my white backdrop up. Then I set up a stand about 6 feet in front of the background to put the saddles, a pole with legs at the bottom for stabilization and a small angled bar at the top with a non-slip pad so the saddle would just balance on the pole and not slip off. This way in post production I could just erase the pole coming up from the floor to the saddle. The client wanted an outlined image to place on different colored backgrounds or photo images, so a white background was chosen for ease of deleting the entire background. This basically gives the graphic designer more flexibility using the images.
Then after I had the first saddle in place I set up my lighting. Now I don’t have fancy lights, but I do have capable lighting for a job like this. I set up two lights, one above the saddle and slightly to the left, and one off to the right coming pretty much straight on. The light above made sure I had highlights on the top, catching the back rim of the cantel, the thigh blocks and the pommel. The straight/right light provided fill mostly so the texture and the side of the saddle did not get too dark. I also placed the saddle far enough from the white background so not to get a shadow from the light on the right. Gee, I hope this makes sense and you can picture the set up.
This job requires a tripod so you can shoot slower speeds and get more detail without the camera moving. I shot these at around 125 shutter speed, 100 ISO and my Apeture needed to be around above 10 or 16 so there would be enough depth of field so all points on the saddle would be in focus. I changed this depending on the color of the saddle.
Some things to do before you actually start shooting. One is to wipe off any dirt or dust so you don’t have to erase it later. Make sure the product is placed well, in this case I had to make sure the saddle was not sitting uphill or downhill on the stand (some I had to rotate in post production… eeekkk) make sure the pad holding the saddle in place on the stand was not sticking out, make sure you are showing the logo side of the saddle if the logo isn’t on both sides. I also had to make sure the panel behind was not showing, these are things that you forget when you are trying to get everything else correct.
OK, now I started shooting!
Each time I shot the whole saddle I then took the camera in for a close up of features each saddle had like the flap, buttons, logo, stitching. All these close up shots make for good insets in their advertising. It’s nice I work in advertising that I think of all these things when doing my photography!! ha, those lucky clients!
OK, now done with all six! Oh, wait, now I have to shoot the girth and stirrup leathers. Girth was easy I just layed it out on the floor and stood on a stool. The leathers I tried different poses for, curling them up, laying them out. There where three different colored leathers so they wanted to show all the colors, I did a few different shots for them, they liked the curled one… me too!
After a few hours in post production I sent the proofs to the client and they loved them, just had to tweak a few of the saddles angles and I put them all on a jump drive and drove the saddles and the images to their beautiful Florida farm.
Job well done!
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