Product Photography

Alongside requests for family portraits and teen photoshoots, I often get asked to provide imagery for websites or brochures.  There are many different kinds of commercial photography ranging from corporate headshots to product photography to event photography and building a social media profile, so I thought I would do a few blog posts on the different aspects of Commercial Photography, starting with Product Photography.

With the increasing reliance we all place on the internet as our source of information, clearly the imagery that represents your product is critical in terms of conveying not only the essential information and key features or specifications of the product, but also the brand.  It is both the FACTS that people want to see, but also the FEEL of the product, and the challenge is to convey all this information without the help of a real life sales assistant on hand to demonstrate or explain the benefits.

Below are some screenshots from MagiDesign, a small company creating beautiful cards and stationery that I photographed.  These were taken using studio lighting on a white background so that the imagery could be placed on a white background.  It’s harder than it looks to get the perspectives, layout and composition just right!

Whilst technical competence is a pre-requisite, strong attention to detail as well as a good eye are essential to convey the right image and message.   Lighting for product photography is key, whether this is in a studio or on location at client premises or elsewhere as this provides a powerful tool in creating the right atmosphere.   Studio lighting can be used to create crisp clean imagery on a white background which can be used for catalogue layout, or to create drama and mood in an image.

But it’s not all cakes and cards!  Sometimes I get asked to do larger products – like houses!  You may have noticed that sometimes it is difficult to get really good photos of rooms or houses – they don’t always seem to look quite right in camera compared to what the naked eye sees, particularly when it comes to perspectives and keeping the uprights upright.  Our brain automatically combines the images received from each eye to provide us with something that makes sense – while the camera simply records.

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Christening Photos in Beaconsfield

I was delighted to be asked to take photos at a Christening at St Mary’s Church in Beaconsfield Old Town earlier this year.  It was little Evie’s special day and she was the best behaved little girl imaginable which was lovely.  The ceremony was shared with another family but was very relaxed and informal, a real family occasion.   I was able to capture the details of the day so that the family have a lasting record of their celebrations – on this occasion they were keen to have their Christening photos as digital files.

After the church service the celebrations for the Christening moved to Stoke Park, a beautiful setting not far from Beaconsfield.  Blessed by beautiful weather, it meant that during the afternoon the guests could enjoy the stunning grounds and the kids could let off a bit of steam outside.

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Queen’s birthday photos

Today the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday … and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the photos in the media of the Queen from “nought to ninety”  showing how she changed as she grew up.  There have also been various photos released by the acclaimed photographer Annie Leibowitz who has taken the Queen’s portrait before.   The one below which seems to have had the most publication features her five great grand-children and the two youngest grandchildren (children of the Earl and Countess of Wessex).  It is no easy task to capture seven young children looking relaxed and happy as well as achieving such pleasing composition – that’s why she’s the Queen’s photographer I guess!  Apart from the children all looking good, and little Mia Tindall looking super cute holding the Queen’s handbag, I love the positioning of the photo so that the mirrors reflect back and forth so many times at the top of the photo.

It is lovely to see the images showing the Queen looking relaxed and with her Corgis too … although I have heard several people say they would have liked to see her out riding – apparently she does still ride, even at age 90!  For anyone wondering what the dogs are called they are (clockwise from top) Willow, Vulcan, Candy and Hollow.

Next time you are holding a special occasion, or celebrating a special birthday, don’t forget to make sure you mark the event by recording those most important to you with some birthday photos.

 

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Featured Artist this month!

I am delighted to be the Featured Artist this month on  Bespoke Framing’s website.  Do check it out to find out a little bit more about me and what I do.

Many thanks to Alison Mahoney of Bespoke Framing – who, along with her husband Alex run a fantastic business in Winchmore Hill, framing pretty much anything you can think of, with great care and attention to the quality and suitability of the materials they use.  Their workshop is set in lovely surroundings where the local wildlife like to stop by and visit!

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To Photoshop or Not?

When I am taking family portraits or corporate headshots, I am often asked “Can you Photoshop me?” or “Make me look a bit younger”.  The answer is that yes, of course I can – photoshop is a key part to being a professional photographer these days.  What is more important is to understand how and when it is appropriate to use it.  I regularly use Photoshop or Lightroom to enhance my images through adjustment of light levels, colour balance, creation of punchy black and white images or other colour effects.  I also use it to remove distractions in the background and for skin retouching – photographing young kids in a nursery after a chicken pox outbreak can mean a lot of work for me in removing small scars on little faces.

But what about the middle aged executive who just wants to look a little bit younger?  Well, yes, I can do that too.  My aim with skin retouching on a headshot is for the image to look as if it is the best version of you on a good day, but not for it to look as if it has been photoshopped or that you are ten years younger.  Often I do not feel any skin retouching is necessary ….. but it is available (up to a point) if requested.  In particular, I would remove any skin blemishes that will not be there in a month’s time – e.g. a scar, spot or abrasion.

We all know that the media manipulates and photoshops images in order to create the image that they feel is right for their product or branding, but for the uninitiated it is quite shocking to actually see the extent to which this is done.  The Dove Evolution video shows a normal looking woman transformed – initially by great hair and make up, but it is the second half of the video which is the most interesting, where the photoshop changes are shown – bigger eyes, longer neck etc.  Rest assured, this level of Photoshop is not applied to my imagery!

Similarly, the Body Evolution video below shows extreme changes being made to body shape.

It is interesting to see how some celebrities and models are reacting to the widespread and excessive use of Photoshop to manipulate … and distort …. images.  Kate Winslet in particular has spoken out several times and complained about the excessive use of Photoshop on her images, and in fact has a No Photoshop clause in her modelling contract with l’Oreal.

Kate Winslet’s Modeling Contract with L’Oréal Has a ‘No Photoshop’ Clause

As far as editing requirements are concerned in relation to my customers, I am always happy to discuss special requests, and Photoshop is a fantastic tool for the enhancement of images.  It is however important to appreciate how and when to use it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Susan - -

Wow… that was an interesting clip in your blog. Yes, I would like to look younger, slimmer, fitter and oh yes… taller. But then what would people think when they met me.
I shall just have to stay as I am… what you see is what you get.

But if a bride has a pimple, or something temporary – I can see it would be great not to be stuck with photos she is embarrassed about.

I have learned some interesting stuff these past four weeks. Thank you for sharing.
Susan

jkaye - -

Thanks Valerie

Valerie - -

Goodness me! I never realised how much can be manipulated to look like a different person altogether. I have taken amateur photo’s of family and friends but never taken it any further. I see you take your work seriously. The portraits are wonderful.
I wish you much success.

jkaye - -

Yes, it’s a wonderful tool for correcting thing that will fade over time, but very easy to abuse. I usually apply the principle that if a mark will have disappeared in a few weeks time (like a scab or cut) then it is fine to edit it out, but if it will still be there (like a birthmark) then it stays. Wrinkles are more difficult! I usually just soften them a little.

It is incredible what is available now. I suspect that if we make ourselves a version of perfect through Photoshop manipulation then others will be surprised and disappointed with the real thing

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