Product Photography

Simple Soultions

I had a customer, SafepathProducts, ask me to photograph a specialized material that they developed for decks.  We chose a new senior housing development in downtown San Francisco, because this product can be installed at high rise apartments.

Sounds kind of like a simple product shot.  Pick the right time of day, go up and shoot the deck.  Not so fast.

First off,  the deck was pretty small.  I couldn't stand on the deck and get much in the frame even with my ultra wide Nikon lenses. The second problem was that the apartment we wanted to shoot was yet to be occupied, so there was nothing in the apartment to see through the glass nor any lights I could turn on to make it look lived in. Also, getting a lift to raise me up to shoot from outside the deck was out of the question as the one we had wouldn't go high enough. The main shot needed so show that the deck was outside an apartment building, showing other floors below.

Luckily, I came prepared for the unexpected.

To solve the puzzel, I shot from the deck above, attached my camera to a monopod and held it over the edge.  I also had a ProView viewfinder camera attached to my regular camera to send back the view what I was seeing though the viewfinder, to a monitor I held in my hand.

Lastly, I hooked up a couple of portable strobes in the apartment below, reflected off a wall, and fired it by a remote wireless slave (Pocket Wizard) also attached to my camera.

Gotta love when a plan comes together.

"...Cue the models with the dog."

Textures and Portable Flash

Since photographing products are a common request, I can say over my career I have photographed quite a variety. From toasters to washers and dryers to jewelry to bedspreads, I've done quite a bit.  On this particular day we were photographing designer pillows.  These are all hand-made from a small company in Fairfax, CA, Twig and Cricket. Our challenge was to show the texture in the product as it was in a natural surroundings of a home in Oakland, CA.


Nothing like a great shot of my bald head.

The lighting was pretty simple.  Start with a nice overcast day in the early morning so light is filtering through all the windows.  I added a small strobe, a battery operated SB-800 on a wireless trigger, to hit the subject with a just a tick of fill light.  This was shot with a very shallow depth of field to bring out the texture in the napkins.





Again, we used daylight from the windows and a portable flash with a slight warming gel to light up the front of the pillows.

We photographed the whole line of pillows in the same set-up so the owner could use what she wanted in different parts of the web site.




Warm light added with portable flash.

We set up and shot several outdoor photographs early that morning. Since the light was flat, we added a portable Nikon SB-800 with a warming gel off to the right to add some texture and give it that morning glow.

Copyright 2015, Terry VanderHeiden