Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Product photography on location, particularly using a natural setting, is very challenging compared to the studio.  In the studio we have hundreds of tools that enable us to support and manage a product not to mention a vast array of lighting options, modifiers and shapers that we rely on to confidently create great images. Most of these tools we must leave behind when we are tasked with creating images of products in a truly unique natural environment. 

When we were approached to photograph a new line of hair care products I suggested the beach as a location, but not just any beach, a special beach I had been holding in my locations list for small products just like this!  So, off we went to this marvelous little California beach arriving there about an hour and a half before sunset on a beautiful August day.

Our client had given us 25 products to photography and we quickly learned that just getting three of these bottles placed on these crumbling rocky niches any where near straight, level or vertical was a real challenge!

Here, Kathi my lovely wife, assistant and product wrangler, sets-up a “simple” threesome. 

While she was occupied with that I did a simple single bottle in direct sun to get that nice color projected shadow on the rocks…

Easy, nothing to it with one subject! Well, I didn’t much like that first location that Kathi was working at, so we moved to a lower location that was more interesting.  Kathi quickly learned that to make these bottles vertically parallel she had to  make little piles of sand under the bottles to correct their tilt…

Here she’s moving little piles of the very abrasive sand (not good on her manicure for sure!) to make the corrective foundations.

f9.5 @1/125 sec., ISO 400

As you can see the lighting was changing fast as the sun went lower and we still had a big set-up to do.

On to the “Group Portrait”

I noticed a nice area on the cliff wall where we could place a lot of bottles and since the direct sunlight was no longer blasting this area we went to work placing bottles as fast as possible—the light was only going to last for maybe 30 minutes more.  We managed to place 18 bottles in a nice arrangement and they look pretty darn straight! 

Here is the final image…

Getting all those bottles to nest in those lumpy hive-like pockets in such a nice composition and getting them that straight and parallel to each other was tough.  All I can say is Kathi did an outstanding job—especially putting up with me as I critiqued her placements or informed her of any bottles that were tilted as I observed from camera position! 

Another good piece of information…pick your assistants well…they can make or break a job.

’Til next week…Don’t hesitate to ask questions and comments are also welcome…

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training Site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

1 comment:

  1. Are you looking for a critique or do you have a question for me? J