After running around in London last month, enthusiastically showing
librarians my new picture book, this month, I've switched it up and been in the studio learning how to master product photography. Those of you who have ever attempted to do this may be thinking 'Why?
Why AC would you want to put yourself through that trauma?' Well, I thought it would be a fun project and I am always up for a challenge!
First, I had to buy a new camera. Although Nikon cameras are known to be better for beginners due to the fact that their settings and terminology are easier to understand, I went with the Canon. Not only is it a great camera for photography but the video capacity is awesome too. My Canon has a mic input and flip screen which is so important for a YouTuber like me. Plus, people I work with use Canon so in the long run, it will be easier to match up film/photo footage later on.
I can't even tell you the number of times I have turned the camera on
and been puzzled as to why there was no picture on the screen, to then
realise, I'd left the lens cap on! 😆 It's a good job it comes with a
strap too as I have almost dropped the camera several times! Although
this camera is pretty straightforward, for a novice like me, it's a
little overwhelming. Hello, YouTube tutorials...
I decided to use my Fovitec Soft Boxes. Lighting is a huge topic especially when it comes to product photography, so before I even attempted to take any photos, I did quite a lot of lighting research. I'm a bit of a studio tech person so I find this kind of thing interesting anyway. It doesn't matter if you have all the correct camera settings and angles right, if the lighting is wrong, the photo won't be good. It's as simple as that. I also decided to go with a white backdrop as I felt products photographed on white would be the most versatile in terms of posting them on Etsy and on the Music Audio Stories website.
No better way to learn than on the job! I set up my products on the floor and began to photograph them. However, about halfway through, I realised two problems...
One, because the display was on the floor, I found that the light was not hitting the products in the right way. This was especially noted on my picture book where I wanted to capture the high gloss finish of the cover. The light was hitting everything from the bottom and not the sides. Plus I was fighting with all sorts of shines and shadows in all the wrong places!
Two, crawling around on the floor for any length of time is agony for
the knees and back and not something I would recommend. How did I ever
build Lego cities on the floor! It also meant that I couldn't use my
tripod for my front-faced shots which was a bit of a pain. However, I still managed to get some nice shots...
For my second shoot, I set up my display on a table which meant I could position
my Soft Boxes exactly where I wanted them to be, use my tripod and sit
on a stool! Ahhhhhh, this is how 'they' do it... At last, I was getting the hang of using the Canon, taking some
decent photos and rather enjoying myself. My mission was to not only
take good clear photos but to create lovely scenes and experiment with
different angles and layouts. Get creative and have fun. That is so
important when you are trying to do something that is challenging. At
the end of the day, you've got to be having fun.
It's important to learn as much as possible about product photography if you are going to do it yourself but at the end of the day, nothing beats experience. It can be difficult to follow what you may have learned online as everyone's set-up, lights, space etc is different. Make a start, even if you're not ready to and just do it. I haven't fully learned everything about the Canon camera but it has been a fun experience being thrown in, somewhat at the deep end!
Shorts on YouTube here: Music Audio Stories YouTube
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