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A Guide to Product Photography
Equipment and Process

Surtee Group Armani Exchange Product Photography

 

PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY is a charagory of photography which illustrates a product in advertising in the most appealing way possible. This form of photography is used to optimize many websites or catalogs to a well read and professional standard, as professionals who understand the procedure, use the right lighting, setup materials and editing techniques as part of the job. COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY is a term or category that refers to marketing and advertising as it’s intention is to sell a product or service. Lifestyle, Food, Architecture and Portraiture are also key areas that fall under this category.

 

SETTING UP AND THE PRODUCT

Setting up the right background is crucial to shooting any product because it sets the tone and it simplifies the entire editing process. Using a white or light backdrop would be easiest for the shoot as it would make the Product stand out and simplifies post-production editing.

There are many ways you can improvise a backdrop (on a tight budget), by using a chair or table you can make-shift a shooting table by draping craft paper as a curve over the chair or even building a light tent out of some cardboard and paper scraps. A light tent is a box device with light, translucent walls designed to evenly disperse the light the object, in this case the product, being photographed. It is important to set up your product on a flat and stable surface, in front of your background.

If you’re shooting items larger than your average perfume or shampoo, you’ll need to create a larger/broader backdrop, which might cost slightly more. But you can also improvise by using sheets or more craft paper, taping them to the wall so they evenly drape down to the ground. This is exactly the same as the makeshift shooting table, only on a larger scale.

Once you get the light right, you’re almost ready to shoot.

 

USING THE RIGHT AND BEST LIGHTING

The quality of your image is definitely defined by the lighting you use. Lighting can be a dreary process to set up but when it’s done right, it can simplify your post-production process and brings beautiful results on shoot.

On a tight budget, NATURAL LIGHT is best to use and easy to manipulate in-house. This saves you money, time and hassle. Set up close to a large window that allows lots of light into the room. If the light is too harsh you can defuse it by using a piece of cloth or white paper over the window. It is always best to shoot when the light is at its brightest. The more light you have, the more you can play and you can always minimise it rather than not having enough. Keep in mind to never shoot with direct sunlight as it creates harsh shadows.

STUDIO LIGHTING is a tad more expensive but can still be manageable under a tight budget. You don’t need the top quality studio lights worth thousands. You can get by with basic lamps with strong bulbs and cheap softbox setups. You can place some white paper or cloth over the lights to create the same effect as a softbox - this will help you achieve softer shadows. One of your lights should serve as the main/key light and the other as your fill light/backlight (depending on your desired outcome) but you can really use the element of play when you’re setting up.

Your key light is typically placed in front, facing your setup slightly from the side, while your fill light is there to lighten the shadow areas. You can also add an additional backlight on the opposite side, back or even above. The point of the fill light is to even out the shadows and soften the harshness. This is also what light-boxes are designed to do; to defuse and distribute light evenly over and around the product. Once you’re happy with your setup you can start shooting have consistent and professional results.

 

USING A TRIPOD

A decent tripod will serve you for many many years. You can in fact get one on a tight budget but if you’re really serious about your photography game, I’d recommend investing in a more expensive tripod as it would be more stable and the quality stronger. Shooting with a tripod, set your camera to a lower aperture or a higher f/stop and slow your shutter speed. This will give you a wide depth of field, naturally keeping the product in focus, leaving you with a crisp image. Stabilizing your camera and shooting with a wide depth of field when shooting is vital to get the best image possible and avoiding blurry images.

 

RETOUCHING / POST-PRODUCTION

Retouching your images post-shooting is crucial to achieving the spotless image you aspire to create. Even if you shoot with a smartphone, editing can make or break the professional results you’re looking for. For our newcomers, if your lighting or setup didn’t go exactly as planned, you can still salvage your shots by making those small errors disappear in ‘post’. Retouching covers anything from spot removal to changing the background entirely. It is a time-consuming process especially if your just getting started and don’t have enough experience yet. A bit of advice would be to learn your shortcut keys as soon as possible, when you have those down, you have so many possibilities at your fingertips.

 

 


Oliver Karstel is a professional photographer, videographer, designer and creative consultant. I specialise in custom content creation, brand development and marketing | info@oliverkarstel.co.za www.oliverkarstel.co.za | FB.com/oliver.karstel.media | IG.com/oliverkarstel


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Copyright © 2017 Oliver Karstel Photography. All rights reserved



OLIVER KARSTEL

PHOTOGRAPHER AND CREATIVE CONSULTANT

Oliver Karstel is a Pretoria-based South African photographer and creative consultant. As an award-winning photographer and videographer, Oliver has worked with multiple multi-national corporations and organisations including the United Nations (U.N.), NEPAD (African Union), Kal Tire (CA) Thermo King (US), GEA (DE) and PERI (DE and UAE) . Oliver has received accolades from international photography awards including the Moscow International Foto Awards (MIFA), and his work has appeared in publications including INSPADES Magazine and Construction World Magazine. He has worked across the breadth of Southern Africa, West Africa, extending to Northern Europe and the Middle East.

PHOTOGRAPHY



Architecture Photography

Architectural photography is a specialised art form focused on the built environment. Architectural photography succinctly captures the majesty of the subject.
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Construction Photography

Construction photography is similar to architectural photography, in its focus on the built environment; however, the emphasis is placed on beautifying a chaotic construction site.
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Industrial Photography

Industrial photography as an art form focuses on showcasing the magnitude, dynamism, technological innovation and scope of an industrial project or location.
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Interior Photography

Interior photography is a form of architectural photography. Though similar to real estate photography, the difference lies in the primary focus. Interior photography aims to showcase the beauty and detail of a constructed space.
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Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is an established and versatile photographic medium. Portrait photography encompasses fine art portrait photography, corporate portrait photography and more.
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Detail

"Detail" is an ongoing artistic project consisting of works spanning a variety of photographic genres. This project allows me artistic freedom and expression.
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Product Photography

Industrial photography as an art form focuses on showcasing the magnitude, dynamism, technological innovation and scope of an industrial project or location.
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Documentary Photography

Interior photography is a form of architectural photography. Though similar to real estate photography, the difference lies in the primary focus. Interior photography aims to showcase the beauty and detail of a constructed space.
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VIDEOGRAPHY



Marketing Videos

Marketing videos are created with the sole purpose of simply and effectively informing your customers about your product.
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Showcase Videos

A company showcase video, quite simply put, showcases the best aspects of one's business. I have produced company showcase videos for Thermo King and PERI
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Documentary Videos

Documentaries can be used as a tool to showcase or highlight current events, issues or stories. In the right hands, documentaries are potentially powerful and interesting educational tools.
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Event Videos

Events videos capture events, celebrations, momentous occasions. Events videography is more complex as it requires the use of multiple cameras and excellent lighting abilities.
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Health & Safety Videos

Health and safety videos are used as an educational tool to inform staff and visitors to a company of potential hazards that may be encountered while at work or while visiting certain locations.
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Induction Videos

Induction videos have multiple uses: First and foremost, an induction video introduces and welcomes new employees to a company. Additionally, an induction video may be produced to introduce your company to a new client.
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SPECIALIST PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO



Aerial/Drone Photography

Aerial photography offers a unique omniscient perspective that is often unattainable with a standard camera. Hiring an experience drone operator can ensure that your project, site or product is photographed from an all-encompassing and interesting angle.

AERIAL / DRONE PHOTOGRAPHY


Aerial/Drone Videography

Similar to drone photography aerial or drone video creates a beautiful landscape to set the scene for your video, it works great for introductions and chapter breaks it can also be used to showcase the size of your premises, product or fleet in an epic and dramatic way.

AERIAL / DRONE VIDEOGRAPHY


360 & VR Video

360 degree and Virtual Reality Video technology is on a skywards trajectory and it's important for anyone working in this field to stay on top of the latest offering.




360° & VR Video


360° Panoramas & Virtual Tours

360 degree panoramas have opened up a whole new user content experience - with the use of a headset of simply by swivling your phone the photographs captured offer a unique all encompessing experience - these are fantastic to show case large areas like factories, stores or landmarks.


360° Panoramas

360 degree and Virtual Reality Video technology is on a skywards trajectary and it's important for anyone working in this field to stay on top of the latest offering.

FEATURED PROJECT

CLIENTS

united_nations_un_women
nepad_african_union
anglo_american
soundidea_digital_agency
gea_africa_client
thermo_king_truck_refrigeration
kaltire_tyres
peri_formwork_scaffolding_engineering
serco_truck_bodies_trailer
surtee_group_power_of_trading
hugo_boss
crh_africa
world_net_logistics
redefine_property_group
china_telecom
khanda_seating
maksal_copper
braviz_fine_foods
solar_mining_services
wispeco_aluminium
fedics
african_global_funds