Hello everyone! I did a short blog post about my protest posters, since I recently re-photographed some of them to go into my portfolio. I said I’d do a post about the ‘behind the scenes’, just a few tips and thoughts because product photography is a lot harder then it looks and yet competent photography skills is key to a good looking portfolio. You might have a great piece of illustration/book/sculpture etc but unless you plan on sending the original artefact to all of your potential clients, the chances are is that they will see it in a photograph, and so you’ll want that photograph to say as much as possible and look fabulous too.
This is by no means, a difinitive guide or anything, but I guess if it’s aimed at anyone in particular, it’ll be students or those that might be a little tight on budget. In an ideal world, you would have a DSLR camera, a nice photographic studio with spotlights and a photographer helping you step by step. If you are able to have access to any of these by all means USE THEM. It will make your life easier and you’ll probably have images better crafted than mine. Whilst I had access to a studio in my university, I wasn’t able to book it in time for my deadline, so I had to make do with things I could find. So, without further ado…my set up:
1) Despite it’s basic appearance, the set up always takes the longest, so if you’re photographing make sure you leave plenty of time for it. This took 2hrs with the help of my other half, and that was before we even took any photos. It’s literally a pole I found held up with tape and a lump of blu tak. Getting it straight/level was another story…
2) Always use a tripod. I know it sounds like common sense but a lot of people I know underestimate it and just take shots handheld. Whilst this might get you some interesting angles, it will be inevitable that your photos will be blurred and it’ll be hard to get a consistant ‘look’ for your photographs. If you rent/borrow one and find it’s a little wobbly, put the camera on a timer, so after you press the shutter the tripod won’t move from the pressure of your finger and the camera will take it when it’s steady.
3) Don’t use your phone camera. Also sounds like common sense but I can see a few people doing it. It’s easily accessible, easy to use and you can buy tripods to hold phones. I can’t deny that technology has improved and some phone cameras are really great but you won’t be able to change the settings as well compared to a camera. I used a compact camera (unfortunately I don’t have enough for a DSLR and my other half didn’t bring his) and put it on the higest resolution possible. This is another important factor, believe me, editing is a whole lot easier when you’ve got a high resolution photo to use.
4) Use a neutral coloured background. You can incorporate some jazzy backgrounds, but it will be hard to control and a lot harder on you to make it work without confusing the reader. White, or light grey backgrounds are great and I would stick to them if you’re a beginner.
5) Don’t go solo. Having a friend regardless if they have photography experience is a good thing. I would have given up if I didn’t have my other half to help me set up, especially when trying to get the pole level. Just having an extra pair of hands is always great and you can bounce ideas between you. If you have a certain ‘look’ you want to achieve, it helps if you sketch it out or show them photos which are similar to the effect you want. An image speaks a thousand words as they say, my other half wasn’t sure why I was so adamant on hanging my posters using string and bulldog clips when laying them on a table might do the same job, I showed him some images and I think it helped keep us on the same page.
6) Always take a few extra. Even though you have a great setup and you probably have got it on the first shot taken, I like to just take a few extra, just in case. Sometimes, little things that you can’t see on the preview screen will often be visible once you view it on a larger scale so it helps just having some back ups.
I think that’s it for now, if you want to see the final image you can go here. Now, as a little bonus and I made a quick .gif with some of the images that didn’t make it. Enjoy! (WARNING: Contains flashing colours.) Till next time.