Product photography is a large slice of my business. I consider product photography to be part of corporate photography, which is a thriving market that respects our time and creativity. Our services are often fully tax deductible as a business expense for the company that hires us, so the people in charge usually don’t mind premium pricing in return for their products looking their very best. Since I am based in New York City I have a bit of an advantage of being close to a lot of corporate clients. I often get to sit down with an advertisement team and discuss exactly what they are looking for face to face. But I also have several clients who I have never seen in person. They just ship us their new products and ask us to make it look good. So if you live away from a major metropolitan area don’t feel discouraged, in our internet connected world you can still practice product photography for clients all over the world.
Today I would like to share a case study of our photoshoot for Matanai Jewelry. Matanai specializes in silver jewelry of highest craftsmanship from Bali. They have a collection of bracelets, rings, earrings, pendants and chains. They also donate 10% of their sales to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. You can check out their full catalog at Matanai.com.
Majority of my products photography evolves around placing products on white or black background and making sure the lighting compliments and highlights the beauty of products’ design, material and texture. But since my true passion is photographing people, we’ve decided to go a step further with Matanai Jewelry and feature the jewelry displaying prominently on a model. This would also serve as an example to potential clients how Matanai Jewelry would look on them. Since the founder of Matanai Jewelry is a beautiful lady and looks like a model herself, we’ve decided to have her pose with her products, saving modeling cost in the process. Did I mention how much clients would love it when you save them some costs on the project?
After all of the featured products have been selected for a photoshoot, all I had to do was to make sure the lighting was top notch, so that all of the jewelry’s beauty features are exposed. Because I took an additional risk of involving the client in the process, I had to make sure she looked good as well. But this was not a big problem; since she looks better than most of the models I could’ve called for this job.
The final challenge was making sure each image looked unique and creative. With other product photography projects we often just set up the lights, place a product in the middle and take the same shots of the entire lineup. In this case, however, we had to take a different approach. We wanted to feature each product with an altered pose and angle. This is where my model photography and posing experience came in handy. Overall I think we’ve been able to prominently display the jewelry giving it sexy yet classy flavor. Let me know in the comments below what you think and if you would’ve done something differently.
For this shoot I’ve used Canon 5D Mark II with my favorite Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens. If you are shooting small products, especially jewelry, a macro lens is a must. Since I was shooting with strobe lights I kept the manual settings consistent: aperture at f/16, shutter speed at 1/125 of a second and ISO at 100. We used a dark grey paper background. The lighting consisted of two Calumet Travelite units (don’t bother looking for those, they are no longer on the market) at each side with silver lined umbrellas. I kept both units at the same power but occasionally would decrease the intensity on one of them to create more shadows on one side (depending on the product and pose I was using).