Assisting on a commercial product shoot



Most of the work I was able to observe in London was for a publication or at least involved a model. As a portrait and fashion photographer, I typically deal with a model in the images. However, product photography is a very large aspect of the industry. Photographer Marie Valognes allowed me to intern alongside her while she photographed product for a hair color company. I cannot reveal the final images or the products themselves, but we photographed about four new hair care items in addition to some existing items in the company line. 

Photographing product is much more involved than photographing people. Every last detail has to be perfect to show the product in its best light. For one of the images, we highlighted four tubes of dye. We had to show the exact color of the bottle, the sheen/texture, and scale using other objects. The tube was made from aluminum, but was very smooth. Marie had to light the product in a way that made it appear "perfect" but also communicate to the consumer that the tube was made from metal. 

Prior to the shoot, Marie showed me the storyboard and shot list for the day. We had nine major images to capture, some of which were simple variations of just changing the background or prop. Some of the shots were simple stills and product details, others were short gifs to be used on social platforms. We had a representative from the marketing team on set to send previews to the rest of the company to make sure we were on the right track with color, composition, and an accurate portrayal of the product. She would tell Marie to try different backgrounds, angles, so the team would have options when making the final selections. 

Marie's team consisted of a digi tech and a lighting technician. The digi tech (digital technician) was hired by the client to observe the images coming into the computer, making selects, cropping, and backing up the images while we were shooting. The lighting technician suggested to Marie the best ways to light the product and then put everything in place while she focused on the creation of the image itself. My role for the day was assisting all three of the these key players. I helped set up equipment, getting things for Marie, and helping the digi tech transfer files between different devices. 

Looking at Marie's personal work, this was outside of her usual aesthetic. However, most of the work you do as a content creator is usually for someone else. Marie had to satisfy the client's needs for perfect images, but also her own creative needs for building sets and making images with her point of view. At the end of the day, most of the images were made with the question: will the consumer understand this image? Will they associate this blue background with coolness of a blonde hair dye? Will they identify with this packaging?