Finding The Reflection

One light on top with few reflectors on the sides.

One light on top with few reflectors on the sides.

Recently I was commissioned to shoot an E-cig product by Janty. The images are to be used for their webstore and for packaging. When shooting products, it is very important to understand what the product is. Every functionality and all the details there is in the product must be taken into consideration.

Many years ago, one of the most respected commercial photographer, Mr. Rene Araneta once told me that lighting a product is not the same as lighting a person. If you do a typical three-point-lighting setup to your product, it wouldn’t work. He told me to start lighting from the top and find the reflections.

Lighting product is like putting your knowledge in lighting people on hold and shifting to another lighting arsenal. When shooting product, you have to imagine that everything you see in the product is a reflection of everything that surrounds it. That includes you and whatever colored shirt you are wearing.

There are quick ways to shoot a product using the tent. It’s practically a small tent made of polyester diffuser that you can position on top of a table. You can light it from different angles and a small hole the size of your lens is provided for you to shoot the product inside. This method of shooting product is fast and can handle most table top product.

However, if you want to have total control of your light where you want certain details of the product to emerge from the whole image, you need to customize your lighting setup. This is where you’ll need those DIY light modifier sometimes suited for a particular product only. You can use foam boards, mirrors and just about anything you can put on top of the table.

One thing you’ll need a lot is a clip. You’ll need them to hold almost everything in the set. Clay is also handy in putting the product in position. You’ll need a pair of scissors, cutter, gaffer tape in silver and black colors. Small sized tripods with boom is definitely a must.

One of the things I like about product photography is the challenge of controlling the reflection. The idea is not to eliminate the reflection but to manipulate it. Products are also inanimate objects that stays in place and doesn’t complain. They’re just there waiting for you to take more shots.

I would like to personally thank Janty for allowing me to use their product for this article. You can visit them at Ayala 2nd Level or at Keep on shooting everyone!

 Text and photos by Albert Pedrosa

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