This week I did some product photography for the first time. Conclusion: it's not very easy. There, you're done reading.
For those of you still here, I'll tell you a bit about it. I had a family get in touch with me about photographing some handmade jewelry that is done by one of their daughters. She makes small horse sculptures out of wax and then has those cast in sterling silver for necklace charms. She started this jewelry business a few years ago and wanted to make some changes to the current photos they had and work on a new branding for the products. We decided to start with doing one piece to use in a magazine ad and then come back later and shoot all of the other pieces for the website/Facebook. We talked about two main ideas for doing the charms. One would be the horse "floating" on a solid background with no other props. The other was to stage the shot with the charm and some other items that come with the product (nice wooden box, leather strap, etc.).
This was the first option I shot. I used a piece of monofilament thread to suspend the charm to make it stand up on its own. I knew that using such a thin, almost-transparent string like this would be easy to remove in Photoshop to give it that floating appearance. For the lighting I knew that I needed to light it evenly from both sides to minimize shadows but not so bright as to lose the detail in the metal. My favorite part of the effect I got was actually an accident. I had set a white, shiny binder behind the setup to block some backlighting from a window. I had a third flash on my camera and pointed it at the binder. It reflected into the glass and gave a nice highlight behind and below the horse. In case you are interested you can see my really professional setup for this shot. I am fairly pleased with the result.
So, this is the shot they chose. It's pretty consistent with the style they currently have, and I think it shows off the piece well. They were looking for something that was not cluttered but still showed more of what you get with the piece. The card in the back comes with the charm. Each horse she makes is based on a real horse, so the pieces are named after the horse. This one is Lucy. She is a favorite. To light this one, I used an umbrella off to the left of the image to light it all evenly. I also used a flash above the scene with a homemade snoot to focus the light. I pointed that slightly in front of the horse to light it well and get rid of the hard shadow of the horse on the box. It also makes that area of the image brighter than the left side to keep the focus on the horse. Again, check out my super-fancy lighting arrangement.
So, that's my first product shoot. It was challenging, but fun. It's a good exercise in making light work the way I need it to. I am looking forward to shooting the rest of their pieces. I'll let you know when that happens.
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Keywords: Charm, Handmade jewelry, Horse charm, Silver pendant, Sophie's Horses Handmade, Sterling silver necklace charm
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