Product vs. Still Life Q&A


Tabletop Product Photography


Lesson Info

Product vs. Still Life Q&A

like travel photography I know this kind of off topic of what the whole things but uh I mean how do you forget that I would start with magazines same same way by the way that I tell all my project fifty two figure folks start with magazines barb entries lower I just saw the ray is shaking her head and barb entries lower why why because the budgets are lower you're not going to start at you know the top ad agency in town you're not gonna come to you go oh yeah we love you have you do the shoe you know that's great they're gonna pay you for thousand you think all that's great and they get a thirty thousand dollar budget try screw in that job you don't get the four thousand and you may be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars more so you don't start there he started to magazines where they're gonna pay you three hundred fifty dollars a shot to go down to big sur or something start there but first you develop a portfolio that is worth them looking at a man we could do we could do a ...

week on that so many people show the wrong stuff in their portfolio so in product and still life you have god to create the right port folio um for your work and that is so important you know so whether it's travel fashion people whatever it's just the right stuff yes right question from fashion tv from singapore they're always dynamic angles and human and architecture photography's what are the common dynamic angles and product photography and what are they and how do they always keep their products in perspective uh corners are huge corners of you know products are usually multi you know three dimensional products has so corners you know there's no rules I don't want to ever be good like you always do this but you know if you're shooting something that it's where and you shoot it straight on you've lost the squareness of it because our camera can't see that so you saw the picture that that while the picture I did here you know I kind of got that corner coming towards us and pictures steve did of uh groups I don't know what I did in the picture did of the steve dental thing here you go picture steve did of the uh back back back back way go with the toaster oven see how he turned the toaster oven you know generally when I'm shooting products the client wants to see the front beside me that's a rule of thumb it's a big thumb so sissy hank shop there want to see the side of that product they want to see the dimensions of it so you can show a bigot you can turn that right straight to us if you do it in your mind's eyes you can see it's a boring photograph first of all you never know what that there was a front drop down with you you just see this kind of hold stuff so there's that and there's top angles on dh and we're going we're going to show you and with two different sets going today we're going to show you there's there's kind of two different sorry three different ways of shooting product there's straight on to the product to see a lot of beer shots wine shots we come straight on you'll see some what I call the normal position which is we generally look down at a table and so the camera is here looking down at the table and then there's the straight down from the top when you're actually isolating and doing creating a graphic out of the subjects you're you're seeing you see a lot of food photography shop that way especially if it's plated you know you'll see a lot of food for tyre was shot that way thank you so a question from tsc tempest is and he's in hanoi here when do products get too big to be considered tabletop when they don't fit on the table uh add larry just british that up and how does this change your approach to shooting them I have had some vietnamese lacquerware to shoot and range from ten centimeters up to one and a half meters in height and still had to make it work yes it's not its product photography still but it's not table top on dh basically the concepts were just simply remained the same the concepts that were going to show you by shooting shoes and things today I would do the same thing with the car tomorrow it would just be in a bigger scale instead of having reflector boards this big I would have reflector boards this big so it's just it's just scaling up and he's got stuff one point five meters tall has what like this huh yeah right off about here that's pretty big so he's gonna have tohave filled cards or bounce boards reflector boards that air probably a third again that size so it's going to be the same type of work same type of things that you're doing just doing it on a larger scale subject has not changed its just gotten bigger understand the surfaces and textures and dimensions they're just on a larger scale on dh still I bring my lights in uh my rule of thumb from putting my lights is as close as I get him without it being in the picture and sometimes they're in the picture we'll just photoshopped him out later but the closest I can get my life's is where I get the most finesse for my lighting callum w is wondering if liquid or product with liquid is still considered still life for example a bottle of shampoo dropped into water for us yeah it still would be absolutely yeah that's product photography um or still life but for time absolutely uh and some food is definitely in this still life especially un processed food you know I mean I'm kind of you know there's nothing more fun than to photograph bell peppers I swear to god you could just you could shoot red bell peppers and green bell peppers and yellow bell peppers and have a blast I don't think a year goes by that I don't do it just because I just love the shapes of them chillies are fun when you start to process the food cook it then you need a stylist there there's no substitute you can learn to do it on your own but it is a total art form in and of itself so the cooked food or processed or you know ready to eat food that's a different discipline but just raw foods are definitely still life flowers are still life roadkill is still probably don't want to bring that back to the studio for the location thing right so uh one more question on this and uh vivian photo and nick ray have both asked do you often sell your product and still like photos to stock agencies I would like to know more about that because I think it could be a means for passive income and then nick ray says has stopped photography sites taken over the market for commercial still life photography answer to number one um I made a conscious decision about ten years ago that I was not going to be a stock photographer so personally no I don't sell to stock agencies um my personal thing is no I wouldn't never do anything to penny stock or it's a micro stock I'm absolutely one hundred percent not an advocate for those folks so enough said they're for regular stock I think that there is especially in conceptual still like you were just talking about the water drops um if you could create conceptual still life like the water drop coming up and becoming something else you know maybe you get the side water shot anything that's difficult to do physically difficult to do or genuinely aesthetically unique would have a great marketing in still life stock yes there's a lot of it out there to the second question has stock damaged product photography no because even the stock agencies even the micro stock agencies you can't send them a colgate tooth but brush they can't use it they don't have permission to use that you can't see out of sentiment generic toothbrush so what's the generic toothbrush gonna d'oh no um I think that uh there's three areas of photography that will constantly be needed one is portraiture because people change so anything portrait's fashion anything to do with people architecture you know it's like while we built a new building let's use that other buildings photograph since they're laying around that's not gonna work we've got a new building downtown check the stock agencies and see if they have any shots that kind of resemble our building now they're gonna hire somebody to do it and product in still life last year I worked for ah uh meet manufacturing company in arizona and it was fabulous job because they kept changing packaging all the time this is back before digital today I'm sure they would get the shot of the hot dogs and maybe you know they could photo shop out that thing but they changed the fat layer the percentage and the hot dogs reese you they change the color of the band reshoot probably in between eighteen eighty five probably made forty to fifty thousand a year on that one client okay so they have to reshoot it and if and the other thing was if I had that picture the hot dogs with label on it what could I do with it it's not stock I can't do anything with it so product and still life architectures people are one of those areas in some product work we have seen a huge decline and that's the drop in pop there was a wonderful heyday shooting droppin pops and studios popped up all over the country if you could work a view camera you knew how to tilt the back I told the front and get those towels in focus from front to back on a piece of four by five you could open up a photo business and be in business that's not enough today sorry it's not enough just operating the gears not enough you've gotta have a vision you gotta have some reason to do it oh and by the way twenty five years ago those shots of towels and stuff would actually be in your portfolio you would show in your portfolio a stack of towels that you shot for dylan's or something you know way would you put that in your book today people laugh you right out of the office they want to see more concept since the end things but those three areas there's money to be made and there will be for a while until of course photography dies and digital photographers all don't know anything and oh what was us now it'll be there it changes it's always changing its metamorphosis metamorphosis site it's changing on ana and you got to be a part of change you have to be a part of the change and you have to change with it or create your own new ways of working so makes sense you can you foresee a time when people won't want pictures anymore I'm not seeing it can you foresee a time when people will be just totally pleased with a snapshot they took off their their you know little camera phone my kids are but I'm not sure tiffany's will ever be you know sundays in your shot off the ten thousand dollars earrings and winner pizza no it's not gonna happen another question from fashion tv in singapore we often hear the fifty thirty twenty rule in product photography especially in packaging means what exactly is that do we really have to adhere to that rule I have no idea I have I did not get that memo maybe it's something in single fifty fifty fifty thirty twenty rule well why haven't you let us know on the internet if please because you all know how I feel about rules right rules are like badges we don't need those thinking bad e you know what he said moment I hear somebody there's a rule a goal not for may when I first started web design uh very first website ever built was for a well with some sort of it was very it wasn't html it was sort of their own proprietary crap and I moved in html and I'm doing all these designs that you really that I was eating people called people call me how'd you do that how do you do that on the web everything's like got to be in a table or you know and I'm like well I just took a little clear gift and made it sixty pixels wide and it's sort of like stuck that thing over there oh man you know because they know I was reading you couldn't you couldn't do layouts like that well it was like hanging a red flag in front of you I don't know that we don't find out we'll find we'll find out somebody out there knows it okay question from t s x tempest who says okay don so what should be in your portfolio today ah we're talking about still life in product okay um still if you're going to go out on creating product for still life photography you need tohave what I would call in marketing hook hook what's your hook you can't go and show drop it pops you know look I can shoot green being cans on white seamless isn't gonna work you need to show that you couldn't fix and solve problems and this is something we talk about project fifty two all the time your portfolio has to show you khun solve a problem have you ever picked up a shiny watch that's a problem that's a problem waiting to happen how were you going to light that watch so you you have to show that you've got the discipline to create a nicely lit beautifully lit watch but you also have to do it hopefully in a little bit different presentation then what they can see from everybody else depending on your neighborhood when you draw that twenty five radius twenty five mile radius around your house your studio depending on your neighborhood if you're going to go into the jewellery photography business and you live in manhattan be aware there are some people in manhattan who shoot jewelry better than you've ever seen in the world because they shoot jewellery every day they've developed a huge style be aware that if you're in um omaha probably not that many jewelry shooters out there so now we look at the clientele let's say you're a conceptual jewelry shooter in new york and your stuff is just off the charts you've got the the bracelet that looks like it's exploded that could work really well in manhattan may not fly really well in omaha the jeweler that you're shooting from omaha really doesn't want you to blow up their necklace he's kind of looking more for since he got a tailor what the clientele that you're working for what they're looking for and your style and build something to the middle but the most important thing you can show in any portfolio is that you can solve problems I see a lot of port filled people portfolios of twentysomethings standing against a pale background pale blue background that sort of standing there and they've got the prerequisite light from here light from here like from here okay great you have solved no problem that's your neighbors your buddy's next door neighbors girlfriend standing there notice something show me that you can solve a problem and there are ten thousand people who could make that photograph if you're taking a watch shot you have to ask yourself are there ten thousand people that could do this watch shot if there are keep working keep working till there's only five hundred people that could do that watch shot then do some rings then to sum in your style and other word's you're gonna play with this stuff for quite a while before you start hitting on something that's really unique I'm now gonna burst that bubble if you think what you're doing has never been done before you're so wrong it has someone else out there has done it that's okay you've got to do it your way maybe the same way they did it but just one percent better here's a rule for you that I know the one percent rule how many know the one percent rule one percent rule is every month I'm in business I want to do one percent better than I did last month I want to do my books one percent more accurate I wanted I want to say I want to go out do my interviews just one percent because after a year that's twelve percent after two years that's twenty four percent if you're making fifty thousand dollars this year and you do twenty four percent better two years from now you're making a lot more money one percent just try to be better by one percent I love the winter olympics I don't know which olympics is coming up is that the summer love summer olympics huh in london lucky you you're not you're not london anymore you're seattle yeah you're going back for it yeah um so but when the winter olympics I love the winter olympics that's my favorite and you get the downhill skiers right and the difference between the guy who wins the gold medal and the guy who came in fourth he got like the t shirt you know get a little charm bracelet thing you know could be a half a second gold medal a half a second half a second if I skip making their doing it like six point one minutes or you know sixty point one point and minutes right it would take me six hours to ski oh I don't you know I'm not even in their league right but that guy came in fourth he just needs to be one percent better one percent better to get gold one percent faster down that thing would have been gold we need to always remember that wherever we are there's a given a given point of about ninety percent if you're in the ninety percent shooter range you're getting work the point is the guys and ninety five percent are getting a load more worth than you are so you've got to get there and you just keep it tweaking its expected when you going to show your book magazine it's expected that your good you've got to be good but you see some of these guys who are really at the top and you realise there's just that one maur thing and the only person that can do that is you is pushing and pushing and pushing so when you start out doing these still lifes start out with some basic things just keep playing with it until you can find that niche that place what you love how to represent it and then fill your portfolio with that do not put in your fort portfolio boring shots of products just because you didn't thieve my first tearsheet syndrome I have gotta tear sheet someone published my work oh my god look here it's a little picture about that big down in the corner is black and white but it's mine I'm gonna put it my portfolio don't you dare to even consider it but it's not happening um because people will hit you about the face and head of small boards

Class Description

Don Giannatti returns for a special workshop on tabletop product photography. Don starts with an introduction to tabletop lighting - tools, scrims, DIY gear - and how to organize your shoot around a tabletop to bring everyone up to speed. Then Don will teach you the basic concepts of Tabletop Product Photography. Finally Don will ramp up to more advanced topics adding extras such as kicker lights, snoots, and grids that can bring your work up a notch.



THere are some courses in CL i think of as not covering a to z but covering -z to z. THis is one of those courses. The value proposition is over the top. The instricutor: Don Giannatti is so experienced he's a relaxed in his knowledge and practiced in cutting to the chase to provide answers to really good questions about set ups for product photos (vs. art/ still-life). The topics: complete workflow from first principles in order to understand what we're trying to achieve with table top work, Don Giannatti makes it clear that we're using light deliberately to give shape to an object. Example insight: using a white card (or black) reflector is not the same as using a silver/gold reflector. The latter create a new light source; the former shape the light that's there. Can imagine the arguments but the demo brings the points home. Or how about NOT using umbrellas for product shots. Or for "drop and pop" product shots, how to do that without umbrellas and tents "that's 50 dollars a shot right there" says Giannatti. Example tool demo: one of the joys of this course is that such an expert does most of the class using readily makable tools like scrims from shower curtains and baking paper. The specialist tools like a modifier on a flash is well within the range of an aspiring commerial table top photographer. And Meaningful Demos LIGHTING/composition what are some of the most challenging and compelling things to shoot when building a portfolio/photographic experience? Can you shoot shiny stuff - like bottles and jewlery. PHOTOSHOP making photoshop unpretencious and accessible, Giannatti presents examples of how to fix bits of a shot, as well as - and this one is worth the price of admission - how to put together a composite of a guitar product shot if you only have one limited sized light to light the whole thing. We also see where highlights can be added - and how. Some basic knowledge of Photoshop layering, masking and brushes would be good to have, but one can work back from seeing it applied into those basic skills. BUSINESS We start with light giving shape to objects as a demonstrable principle, move into how to use light structurally for bringing out something fantastic about that product - that as Giannatti points out - puts bread on someone's table, so respect. From these demos we go from light and camera to post to produce the finished image. Now what? or how have a product that needs shooting? That's the business of product photography. In these excellent sections on Business, Giannatti details the heuristics of hard graft to get gigs: where to look for contacts, frequency of approach, engaging with social media (you don't have to, he says, but effectively, it's gonna cost ya). "Doing just these few things you're already way ahead of your competition." I can believe it: they are many of them tedious, but can also well believe they are what pay off. COURSE BONUSES JUST FOR SIGNING UP - for those who subscribed to a live broadcast, all the slides were provided in advance (you can see this offer on class materials) Now that's classy. What other CL courses have done that: given something to participants who just show an interest to sign up? (It's that gift thing kevin kubota talks about in his workshop on photography business - makes one want to work with that person: pay them for the value they create, eh?) TRUST/VALUE Instructor Personality Throughout each part what's delightful is just the EXPERIENCE of this instructor. He's put together a thoughtful course from light to lighting to parts to gear to post to business. There's immediate trust: plainly this man has made a living from what he's talking about, and has addressed almost any immaginable scenario. There's a great demo towards the end of the course of working with students to take shots. The value to folks watching is to see how he helps us all think about how to problem solve (the mantra for the course) to find the shot - to use light card after lightcard to wrap the light to bring out the countours of the material. Even when he says "that's just not working" - there's not a sense of the people shooting having failed - but an opportunity to think about what's been learned - to keep working the problem. There's a whole lot of HOW in that interaction that is highly valuable. Thanks to the participants in the workshop to be so willing too to do that work. This is the kind of course you leave feeling like ok, i can do this - or at least i have the tools and some knowhow now about them to start to work these problems, to start to create value in these kinds of shots. I am already just from being here a better photographer now. Related CL Course: This course feels like a terrific complement to Andrew Scrivani's Food Photography. And no wonder: both take place in small areas and use light in similar ways. A contrast is that in editorial food photography - scrivani's domain - there's a focus on skills to work with what's there; in table top/product, one can enhane - knowing how to do that effectively/believably is where the skills - learning to see that - come in for this kind of work in partiular . If tabletop/product photography is a space you wish to explore, or you just want to be able to practice working with light in the small, and see how to bring you will be delighted with this -z to z deep dive introduction.