With the Coronavirus running rampant around the country, it was advised that people stay in and avoid going out as much as they can. Being a landscape and travel photographer, this is not a good time. Getting out is part of the job. However, this down time allows me to experiment with different styles of photography.
I am working on a new project and it centres around product images of vintage cameras. However, this is something that I have always dabbled in but never really invested the time into. So now that it is not really wise to spend a lot of time outside, I can start learning.
What started this all off was a video by Peter McKinnon about the exact topic that I was looking for. The reason that I bring this up is that if you are looking for “product photography” then you are going to run into two types of content. The first being photos for amazon sellers where you learn the basics of proper lighting on a white background. The second being the photos for magazines where you learn how to shoot a beer bottle on a black background with a reflection.
Peter’s style was what I was going for. The project required a stylish approach to displaying the products rather than just putting them on a white background. Not to mention that what Peter shows in the video is the way I wanted to shoot the products. Nothing fancy, just a lot some different textures and settings. That is it. No reflections or water splashes needed.
I experimented with a bright and airy coffee set up and then also a darker set up for the camera straps. This was a great exercise in using my skills and trying to develop a concept. It was also extremely time consuming and when you are stuck inside due to a viral outbreak, this is a good thing.
What I basically started off with is a set of backdrops for product photography that I picked up from Amazon for fairly cheap. These are double sided sheets that have a few wood patterns and some granite patterns too. Another place that I checked out was the local dollar store. Here in Korea, we use Daiso which is basically the same thing. They have everything from plastic fruit to cheap dinnerware. To be honest they have a little bit of everything and I got a little overwhelmed and just when with what I already have. Once I get a better idea, I will come back for another look.
I set up on a table near a window to make use of the afternoon light. The afternoon light was perfect and the white curtains that we recently installed were a bonus diffuser. The only issue where the shadows from the window frames and other elements like that.
The biggest challenge here was getting the shot set up properly like how Peter did it in his video. I struggled with making the scene look layered and interesting. This is there you have to persist and have an idea of what you want to accomplish.
Finding a Look
This was something that I was really trying hard to get right. It was not about JUST photography the products but also getting a proper look. That was what I didn’t like about all of the black background mirrored base kind because I felt that it was just a product and no look or feel.
For the coffee shots, I wanted something a lot lighter and brighter. So I changed the backdrop and brightened the images up a lot more. I wanted them to be a little more soft in some shots too.
The camera straps I wanted the strap to really pop, so I went with a darker feel with a black camera and background. I feel that this really made the product stand out.
That being said, you can’t just throw an instagram filter on and hope for the best. I looked at a lot of similar images to see how they were presented and photographed. I tried to get some sort of similar look to the shot. Again, this was a challenge as it is not really my area of expertise.
The bottomline here is that when you are stuck inside or finding it hard to get out try something new or improve on an area that you struggle with. This could be anything from portraits to interior real estate photos. Youtube is there to help it just takes time to learn and practice.
For me, I am going to keep trying until I get this right. I will let you know when the project goes live and then please let me know what you think.