Jobs For Commercial Photographers

by William Lulow

Commercial photographers are often called on to shoot many different subjects. That’s why they need a whole, complete arsenal of tools with which to work. This week, I was asked to shoot an entire cosmetics line for Jill Harth Cosmetics

These were small objects, glass bottles and tubes, etc., so they could be shot on a fairly small table top. This was the initial setup in my small, office studio. (I have a larger studio downstairs for most people photography):

It’s important to note that when shooting glassware or bottles of any kind, you want to use soft boxes rather than any other type of light modifier such as an umbrella. The reason for this is that you want to have the highlights be rectangular and long, rather than round and short. This makes the product look much better.

Here are some examples:

Note how the straight highlights accentuate the length of the lipstick products! Occasionally, you might need to put up black boards behind the camera to make sure that none of the studio’s surroundings will reflect in the products. If you create a lighting setup like the one pictured above, the black space in the product makes for very good looking images. Also, make sure that all your studio room lights are turned off as well.

All that was needed here was a small sweep of no-seam paper and a large enough surface to make sure that both the foreground and background would be white. (You can see my background light set up to make sure that the background reproduced as white.)

The client was present for the entire shoot and helped prepare the products, including labeling them so that they could be recognized easily (no small task).

In order to make these products look good, we often had to employ one of the basic principles of light: “the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection.” In order to make the labels reproduce correctly, the product often had to be angled so as to reflect light directly to the camera’s lens. Here’s an example:

This was reflective type on a black background. The only way it was going to read in the photograph was if I angled the product so as to reflect the copy. Otherwise, it would have reproduced a dark gray and wouldn’t have stood out at all.

The point is that knowledge of all of the aspects of lighting is necessary to the success of any commercial photographic project. Sometimes a lighting setup can be a simple one, but it still has to follow basic principles of how light is used to make products as well as people look their best.