A product shot for a personal project for a member of the United Irish Societies of Greater Cleveland, the committee that organizes the annual Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This is the awards medallion presented to unit leaders and others who distinguish themselves either in the parade or for their selfless work assisting the committee.
Product image mock-up for holiday-themed advertising. A lot of time goes into the styling – this is just one of maybe 20 different arrangements. In fact, what you see in this shot are only a few of the total number of elements that were shuffled in and out of the setup.
While we took about 60 exposures total, we were constantly tweaking props. The idea is to keep trying things and see what works. That’s where the time factor comes in. Be patient and it’ll come together. This is after doing a dry run or two to figure out what outside items enhance the main product.
Post production was minimal – and that’s the idea. I know I’ve done my work well when there’s not a lot of work to do “in post.”
If you want to get it right, then you have to put the time in – both during and before the shoot. It’s all part of the process.
Everybody’s doin’ it. You’ve seen it all over social media. C’mon. Admit it. You’ve done it yourself. I’m talking about the now all-too-common practice of diners uploading photos of their just-served dish. It was cool at first. But now … not so hot. Especially when it has degenerated to the point that pile of mush plopped into a paper-lined plastic basket is celebrated on Facebook as a work of Renaissance art.
Let’s face it. Food photography is a little more complicated. Yes, you can still post your cell-phone capture of the three-bean vegan taco you had at the brewpub on Tuesday, but I doubt the proprietor will be paying you to use it in a print or online ad run. If she does, she won’t be in business much longer.
Food photography – when done properly – is hard. Patiently. Logistically. Technically. The prep, setup and shooting time for this image totaled about six hours. And that’s with rushing through it once the ice cream hits the set and starts melting.
With a disappearing subject, I had to set everything first with empty dishes where the ice cream would be – it had to be the last thing to placed. Even so, like every other session, it’s an organic process. Shoot, rearrange, shoot some more, re-rearrange, adjust the lighting, shoot more … you get the picture. All within an unpredictable time window.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked doing it. But it’s not like shooting a wedding or a high schooler’s senior portraits. Food is a totally different animal. And harder to capture.
We ran through I don’t know how many different placement scenarios with this shirt-jacket combo. Lighting through a cucoloris – really just a flat wooden board or mat board with cutouts placed in front of the light source – provides some texture and interest to the shot.
Good product photography takes time. And patience. And an attitude of exploration to see how small tweaks can improve the image – and thus, the appeal of the product.