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Photography Tips | Product Photography Set Up

Theresa’s Photography Tips

I am going to try to add some of my photography tips to this blog. My first one is a quick tip on how to set up a simple at home background to improve product photography.

 

I have a kitchen with very little natural light, I also have very dull tile. Basically what I am trying to say is, it is UGLY! I wanted a cute solution for my food photography. My solution was scrapbook paper! I had two pieces laying out and decided to use them as a background and ever since my food photography has gotten a lot more lively!

 

The set up is simple.

1. Make sure you have one decent light source (natural light is best, but artificial light works too) If you are using artificial light I would suggest shooting in raw and then correcting for the warmth. Personally, since I don’t have a good source of natural light and I was taking the pictures at night, I use an overhead kitchen light and just correct for warmth.

2. Secondly I use a speedlight (very cheap one that I got on amazon). I bounce the light off the ceiling and it really gives a nice bright, well exposed photo.  Now, if you do not have a speedlight you can still get the shot, I would just try to use more natural light.

3. To set up the actual photo, just place together two pieces of scrapbook paper together. Then I place the item (in this case a cupcake) about 2 inches away from the edge (this way the background comes in nice and blurred).

ISO: 100 ; F/2.8 ; 1/200 ; Speedlight set to 5/6 (on my cheap one).

ISO: 100; F 2.8 ; 1/200 Speedlight set to 5/6. The speelight was pointed straight up, (to bounce off the ceiling).

 

 

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A little bit of a rant…

I have complete respect for wedding photographers. Honestly I regard it as one of the hardest most stressful jobs out there. You only get one shot to get the perfect picture. Your working conditions rely on the weather. You have to wear many hats and everyone is looking for you to get the perfect images. Your a time keeper, counselor, supporter, and many, many other things. That being said, individuals who pose as wedding photographers, yet do not have the talent, gear, or respect necessary to be wedding photographers, I have no respect for at all. I had a run in with one of these ‘pseudo-wedding-photographers” and it really made me sad to see her pass herself off as a professional when clearly she was not. ( I mean, I wouldn’t even shoot a wedding because while I am a good photographer, I am not at wedding photographer level) I am trying to make this sound as non-bitchy as possible so bare with me.

Recently, like two weeks ago, my brother got married in Ohio. Where he was married they offered a wedding package that includes a ‘professional photographer,’ since they didn’t know I was coming, they got the photographer package as well.
On the wedding day, a lady wearing a very unprofessional outfit showed up with her T2i (with kit lens) and tripod. (now that is a decent camera, but it was not good enough for the lighting conditions) She was shooting entirely on auto, using poses from the 70’s. I was heart broken for my brother! Since he asked me the night before to take lots of pictures at his wedding,I began to pull out my camera and lens. Wanting to give the photographer as much respect as possible I stood in the back and used my 70-200 to capture pictures of the ceremony. Upon seeing my camera she gave me a dirty look (what my mom said) and moved back to where I was and stood right in front of me. From where I was standing, with the lens she was using, she was getting pictures of peoples backs and not the couple getting married. I moved to the front to get a few pictures of them saying their vows. The photographer proceeded to move up front too, again standing right in front of my camera. I moved back to give her space and she moved too… I was getting pretty frustrated at this point, but kept taking pictures. At this point I moved to stand by my parents ( in the back) she once again moved back to me but this time ran into my lens ( my $2000 lens!) I was a little more than pissed, but I just moved to the side, and again she stood in front of me and pushed me out of the way. At this point I had, had enough and put a prime lens on my camera and just took the shots I could get. The sad part about it is this photographer was too busy ‘bullying’ me to pay attention to the actual wedding. She was playing photographer and my brother suffered. Being a photographer as well, I was trying to be as respectful as possible giving her space staying out of her way, but she kept returning. It was really ridiculous. It was unprofessional and it was petty. I was at the point of just putting my camera away completely but my brother asked me not to.

Needless to say, my brothers pictures from her turned out horribly. They were dark, overly warm, and very grainy. (I can’t show them on here, because that would be a copyright violation) They were not the quality of a professional photographer by any means and it is sad that this individual is taking such an important moment in two peoples lives and ruining the memories. Fortunately for my brother he had me to capture the memories right, but I feel sad for the other people that this lady pons herself off on as a professional photographer… Granted she only charges $100 for a wedding…. It is still pretty ridiculous.

Okay there is my little rant. I had to get it out… My main point is, photography is not easy, when done right, it is a complex art. Wedding photography is even harder. It takes a lot to be a wedding photographer and it is sad to see individuals belittle the art.

Since every post is better with pictures… Here are a few I captured

The 2.5 year photography difference

This is a competently impromptu post, but I felt like I just had to share.

In the past year I have really come into my photography skills. I took the time to hone a style, learn my camera and understand light. Because of the time I devoted to the craft, I have really seen an improvement to my skills. Then I came across this…

 

This was my very first engagement session 2.5 years ago (on top)… I was using an XSI, and really did not know enough about photography to be taking anyone’s picture. I didn’t know how to pose people (it was an era before the invention of pinterest), I didn’t know my camera, I didn’t know light and I really didn’t know how to edit! It makes me both happy and sad to see this image. I am happy to see how far I have come, but I am also sad that I thought this picture was worthy of clients. Thankfully it was a free session, but still I feel bad… I no longer have the contact information for this couple, but if anyone out there in this wide open internet knows them, please send them my way! I would love to photograph them again and give them professional images.

On bottom is my latest engagement session. It is actually one of the ‘bad’ pictures from the session (it is a tad blown out, I forgot my reflectors that day). In my opinion, and my clients, this is professional quality. I am happy to present this image to them and they are happy to use it. I am glad I have come so far. This is a personal lesson though, never stop learning and keep striving to be a better photographer. I am never going to be a perfect photographer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t strive to be better than I was yesterday.

 

So a lesson to all:

1. Know your camera (in all situations) and learn how to control light!

2. Don’t be so eager to make that jump to ‘professional photographer’

3. Never stop learning! Learn, learn, learn!

I am by no means a perfect photographer. I have flaws still. I take pictures that are not good. But I am a HELL of a lot better than I was 2.5 years ago and in 2.5 years I will be even better!

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