Well, yes… and no!
A product photograph, from our little photo studio, just outside of Boston, is almost always a combination of collaborative thinking, careful interviewing and preplanning.
This beautiful, art deco style lamp would look good on almost any background. However, looking around the show room during our initial conversation with the client, we quickly decided that the image needed to carefully reflect an old world warmth and quality.
Back at the studio, we pulled out a canvas background we had created a while back. It consisted of an application of a material called Instant Rust. I had remembered that the application had turned out with a nice, painterly quality that reminded me of the old masters’ paintings of bowls of fruit and other still life compositions.
The lamp itself, with its round top, projected a warm glow that we needed to imitate in the shot. Also, with all that chrome, we needed to figure out how to create smooth, uninterrupted highlights.
The set was built in a small room, with the 4’x8′ canvas swept out across the floor. A strobe head with a grid and warming gel was targeted on the background and adjusted so that the light looked like it was coming from the lamp. A second strobe, shot through a 3’x6′ sheet, became our main light to the right of the camera. And, a large white card was added on the left to give us the highlight on the left side of the shaft. Some time was spent balancing the exposure for the incandescent bulb in the lamp and the strobes.
There was a conversation about the light switch. Do we show it or not? Since it was, ultimately, part of the design and usability of the product, we included it.
At the end of the day, the “simple product photo” had to weave through many different decisions to arrive at this simple, clean, cover-worthy photo.