Product photography has dictates that cannot be ignored. Items shot in a way to reveal unique qualities, structure, texture, materials and color are a few requirements. Consistency is important in catalog photography, keeping backgrounds, angles and scale the same for each image. Clean, new looking products to shoot are desirable. Post production fixes can help with inconsistencies but it is best to get it right on set.
Over the years, I have photographed thousands of items for client’s websites, sell sheets, trade show booths, catalogs and store signage. Every so often, I see something, an item or product that crosses a line. It stands apart from a consumer product and, in my opinion has the visual and design qualities that become art. I notice it most in industrial objects.
Last week I was involved in a project with Durr Megtec. They supply industrial dryers and ovens for roll to roll and web forming applications. The items I photographed were arranged in a group and I was instructed to “be creative”. When I hear “be creative” , I think of lighting variations, backgrounds and layout.
In approaching this group setup, I used LED, battery operated mini lights purchased from Costco. They run on 3 AAA batteries per light. I have 6 of them and placed them behind the product with the light shooting up, bathing the front planes of the product. These lights are easily hidden and quite powerful. Over the top of the set up I used a hand held battery operated LED Micro Light as a main fill light. For a background I used a pure white reflective flexible laminate. I like the smooth reflectiveness as a contrast to the highly textured products.
The intricate appeal of the individual items in this group cannot be denied. The ceramic, organic appearance (as if coming from nature) , along with the finely engineered characteristics of each filter is indeed a sculpture, something that stands alone and could be displayed as an art object. I don’t know the science or operation of these objects. They do have a function. As a commercial photographer, I am often reminded that places, faces, buildings and objects all hold potential for unexpected beauty.