Quick And Simple Product Photography

quick and simple product photography

Lighting techniques for products can vary as wildly as the range of products themselves. You can create highly complex setups for fairly simple products, and the reverse can also be true.

In all honesty, as with anything I shoot, I tend to create a lighting scenario that best suits the subject, and I tend not to consider the complexity of it. It just develops organically.

This shoot, for Drake & Hutch, was always going to be fairly straight forward, as was the brief. Basically, they wanted quite simple “lifestyle” imagery of their products in a relevant environment, although without a model. The chosen location was to be the kitchen area of their offices, which meant an early start before the workers drifted in, and cluttered up the place. It also meant I would have to work fairly quickly, too. No change there, then!

The products are the coffee beans, obviously. The packaging is the actual product, whilst the coffee beans add context as to the actual purchased product. The cup and spoon are simple props, although the cup was carefully chosen as D&H’s target market are coffee shops and the like. The props provide context, and a potential emotional hook for a potential client. Baristas are likely to relate to this style of “branded” cup, more so than a standard kitchen mug. Or so I would like to think.

As you can see, we have a clean worktop, with a wood effect upright at the rear. What you can’t see, is the fact it’s an area that is recessed within a cupboard, 600mm wide. So it’s rather narrow and quite deep. This basically dictates quite a simple lighting set up, as I can only really bring two lights into effect. My first light is the key light, which is an ELB500 placed immediate frame right and high, firing through an 80x80cm collapsible softbox with a honeycomb fitted. The honeycomb helps stop the light flooding the work area. It was set to fire at an output of 2.0, which is equivalent to 25Ws.

The second light is my accent light, which is another ELB500 firing through a standard 18cm reflector with a 10° grid fitted. It was only slightly higher than the subject and placed further to frame right. The output was set to 0.1, which is equivalent to 7Ws. This provided sufficient light to skim across the packaging, bringing up the texture and shape, along with a touch of highlight to the beans themselves, as well as the cup and spoon. I didn’t want the accent to be too obvious, as lighting in most coffee shops tends to be a little subdued.

The camera settings were as follows:
Olympus E-M1 mkII 1/250th sec ISO400 12-40mm f2.8 @ f8

product photography carlisle cumbria

A change of setting. The lighter granite worktop will add light to the subject by default, and give an airier feel to the image. The package is the main focus of attention, and the cup and spoon are still emotional hooks, as is the grinder.

The key light is the same ELB500 and softbox, but with the honeycomb removed. It was about head height and placed frame right. The giveaway is the soft shadow from the coffee bean pack. Output was set to 3.0, which is equivalent to 50Ws.

The accent light was placed frame left, at a similar height to the key light. It was the same ELB500, firing through the gridded standard reflector. Output was set to 1.0, which is equivalent to 12Ws. The highlight from the accent can be seen on the shoulder of the grinder. The accent light is bringing up the shape and texture of the package, as seen by the slight shadow of the edge of the pack.

The camera settings were as follows:
Olympus E-M1 mkII 1/250th sec ISO100 12-40mm f2.8 @ f5.6

Whilst I do enjoy creating quite complex lighting rigs, there is definitely something to be said for keeping things simple.

The word “quick” comes to mind.

My product photography portfolio can be found here.