A Very Clean Shoot

I finally got around to editing images from a location shoot based on the classic 1980’s television commercial for Levis 501 jeans which featured Nick Kamen and launched Marvin Gaye‘s “I heard it through the grapevine” back into the charts. The venue was Harborne Launderette here in Birmingham and I was joined by a small group of my students there one evening as the shop closed to the public for the evening.

The models were: Mark Hoban (in the Nick Kamen role) and Jayne Osborne, both of whom were fantastic sports. All of my photographs were taken on the Olympus EM-1 with f1.8 prime lenses. I took some Bowens flash with me but only used the continuous modelling lights to raise the overall light levels but without losing the atmosphere.

Many thanks to Mark, Jayne and the lovely people at Harborne Launderette.

The Visor Conundrum

In these cash-straitened times, some companies, especially smaller ones, have taken to photographing their own products for their websites. In a way, this is bad news for professional commercial photographers who are losing commissions or at the very least are having to cut their fees to attract what few commissions are up for grabs. In another way, this is good news for some photographers, especially those who offer training and studio hire.

I have noticed quite an upturn in people hiring Fotofilia to shoot their own products – so that’s good news for me! It’s especially good when, as often happens, they massively under-estimate how long it will take to set up and shoot their products to a high standard. And ┬áthere’s another benefit to me: I have people coming in for 1-1 training on how to photograph their products, some having spent a small fortune on equipment that they now realise they have no idea how to use. Sometimes I have to break it to them that the equipment they have bought, though good in itself, is not suitable for photographing their product.

Occasionally, clients will have a go, give up, and come back to have their products shot professionally after all. Often, the product itself proves too tricky to photograph. Either way, I’m rather happy that people are having a go.

Over the years I have photographed many and varied products and I actually quite enjoy this kind of work. The following images are from a shoot for a regular client of mine who, for the record, does value the experience of a professional photographer. But this particular product range would prove to be a nightmare for most beginners.

The products are motorcycle visors, all of which are reflective to some extent, some completely clear, and must be shot against a clean white background in 4 different positions. To photograph the range of visors in just one position each is hard enough as every one is a different shape, with different reflective angles, necessitating a new lighting position for each shot. Shooting in a light-box is not an option because the reflections would just be too “flat” for the client’s taste.

And so I have two choices…

  1. A new lighting set-up for each position of each visor (which adds up to almost 400 lighting changes for the range – time-consuming and thus expensive), or…
  2. A “best fit” lighting set-up which will suit the widest range of items with the minimum amount of light movement.

Not surprisingly, the client went for option “2”. Here’s some pics to show you the problem…

See what I mean?