CHECK OUT MY TUTORIAL ON PHOTIGY...

I was recently asked to write an article for Photigy revealing a glimpse  BTS of one of my shoots. In part one of the article I go through the steps in creating a high end drinks photoshoot .

Photigy has a great community and is probably the leading online educational tools for aspiring commercial product photographers.

 

You can view it here

https://www.photigy.com/bts-of-high-end-commercial-drink-shoot-part-one/

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ONE-EYELAND BEST OF THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHERS 2016

Was proud to be 'pre-selected' to appear in One Eyeland's 'Best of the Best Photographers 2106'. 

From One Eyelid website for 2015 publication :
' Chiselled from a raw material of over 127,717 photographs, the Book showcases 91 of the most talented photographers in the world and their 135 adorable works.'

HOW TO CREATE A SIMPLE DIY DIFFUSER PANEL FOR UNDER £6

In this post Im going to explain how to make a handy, lightweight diffuser panel that can be used for a number of tabletop product photography applications. Using diffusion panels is preferable to using soft boxes in product photography as it allows much greater control of the light.

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED

1. 1 x Foamcore board        
2. 2 x Sheets of tracing paper (same size as foamcore board) 
3. Strong double sided tape    
4. Gaffer-tape          
5. Modelling knife        
6. Ruler    
7. Pencil   

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STEP 1.

Mark out about 7cm around the inside of the foamcaore.

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STEP 2.

Cut around the marked lines to create your frame.

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STEP 3.

Attach one sheet of tracing paper to the frame with double sided tape.

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STEP 4.

Flip the frame over and attach the other sheet of tracing paper to the other side, 

STEP 5.

Tape the edges of the frame with Gaffer tape to strengthen the frame.

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LAZY JACKS CIDER TEST IMAGES

This was a joint collaboration with the highly talented retoucher Gerard Baker at GBRS Global (http://www.gbrs.co/portfolios/). This was a personal project intended to showcase our work to potential agencies and clients. 

WHY STILL-LIFE PHOTOGRAPHERS SHOULD BE EMBRACING CGI

Whether you like it or not, our current understanding of what it means to be a commercial product photographer is changing, and we photographers better get on board if we want to stay relevant.

3D rendered image created by Mike Campau 

3D rendered image created by Mike Campau 

It is now, technically speaking, easier than ever to create hyper-real 3D rendered images that are indistinguishable from photographs using 3D rendering software such as MODO, Cinema 4D and 3DS Max. In fact a large proportion of advertising imagery is already created using 3D software but you probably wouldn't even know. For example IKEA has now replaced over 75% of its traditional 'photography' with CGI and virtually all high-end automotive imagery is, at least in part, created in 3D software. This makes commercial sense when you consider some of the advantages that 3D rendering offers. Products don’t have to ‘physically exist’ anymore as visualisations of a product can be realised prior to manufacture, using just the initial CAD drawings. For larger shoots, CGI considerably reduces photographic production costs, as it means sets, backgrounds and locations can be created using software, which is one of the main reasons automotive photography now relies heavily on CGI. Additionally, 3D renders can be revisited later and adapted as many times as required which has many obvious practicalities. And finally, in my opinion CGI just has a certain 'look', which works great for certain products such as cars, jewellery, drinks and cosmetics. When used in conjunction with photography and Photoshop the creative possibilities are endless.

3D generated image by Tim Cooper 3D Ltd.

3D generated image by Tim Cooper 3D Ltd.

Image from Chaos Group 

Image from Chaos Group 

This 3D image was created by PGK Studio 

This 3D image was created by PGK Studio 

So should photographers be fearful of these changes? Far from it, in my opinion. I am certain that talented, motivated and open minded photographers will make the best 3D artists if they are willing to embrace it. For example, understanding how light reacts to different objects, surfaces and environments, and how to use lighting to create the right mood and atmosphere, is vital to create great looking renders. You still need a great eye, a creative vision and an understanding of what works visually, which all good photographers should have. After all, CGI software (like a camera) is just a tool. For me, utilising CGI is just another string to my artistic bow, which allows me more scope to realise my creative ideas. I don't see it as something to fear or as something to replace photography, but as a tool that allows me to push my creative boundaries and offer the best service to my clients, as part of a more integrated workflow. 

Of course this only relates to commercial advertising photography, as CGI will never replace social photography or any kind of photography where authenticity gives the work its power and meaning (e.g. journalistic, wildlife, landscape etc.). 

What's really exciting are the new creative possibilities that are now open to digital artists and photographers, as almost anything imaginable can be created in a virtual real-world environment. Concepts that would have been extremely costly/difficult, if not impossible, to realise in a studio, can now be modelled and rendered in 3D software and reworked as much as required. The creative process involved in photography will always play an important part in the industry; CGI will never replace the way an image or concept can develop organically through 'problem-solving' and 'happy accidents'. But the combination of the two will allow still-life photographers' creativity to be enhanced and expressed at its best.

Some of my favourite photography/CGI artists include: Mike CampauTaylor JamesRadoxist StudioLux photo digital and Nigel Harniman.

 

 

 

 

 

BEHIND THE SCENES OF A DRINKS SHOOT

Many times I work with the intention of targeting specific clients or agencies. This was a test shoot with a specific client on mind. I have included some behind the scenes snaps to get an idea of how we set up and work on a shoot. 

IMAGE DECONSTRUCTED

Here's a behind the scenes peek at a recent shoot if anyone is interested. Lighting set-up was fairly simple and is explained below. Note: The toast was shot separately and was suspended above the toaster and composited in post-production, as was the smoke.

As a composite shot all components were treated separately so I can control every aspect  to look exactly how I want it to look for the final image.

Tracing paper was used to diffuse the light (doubled over to increase diffusion), a mix of bare flash through refelectors (for harder more direct reflections) and honeycomb grids (for softer, more gradiated reflections) shot through diffusers was used to create the effect. It took about 2-3 hours to edit the image in photoshop and about 4 hours to photograph all the components. 

The final edit...

FIRST SHOOT WITH SVETLANA

Here are some images from a recent photoshoot with up and coming model Svetlana, not my usual subject and I'm still definitely 100% a still-life photographer, (though in reality lighting principles are the same whether you're photographing food, cars or people just the approach and technique varies). Shooting great portraits is a always a challenge as so much depends on the relationship between the model and the photographer, I was lucky as Svetlana was a natural in front of the camera. 

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HUNGRY ANYONE?

I think its really important for commercial artists to have at least one personal project on the go in order to  keep their client work fresh and reinvigorate the passion. Here are some images from an ongoing project  that I have been working on over the past couple of weeks, on the rare occasions i'm not photographing or editing client work. More images can be viewed here http://www.markzawila.com/projects/

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7 WAYS TO FIND THE RIGHT COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER.

Here are some guidelines to help you choose the right product/food photographer for your next project. This article is aimed at the small businesses and start ups with no art-buying experience, looking online for commercial creative services.

1) Is the quality consistent?  There are lots of websites out there where the quality of images displayed varies greatly. This, as a potential client would be concerning as it would suggest that either the photographer doesn’t have enough good work or has just got lucky with a couple of images and can’t guarantee to reproduce the same result each time. Its important that the photographer shows that he/she is able to reproduce the shots he/she presents in his/her portfolio again and again.

2) Are they specialists or generalists? You wouldn’t expect a train driver to be able fly a jumbo jet or a mechanic to design your house. Its the same with photographers. A specialist will not only have far more experience and know-how in their specific field than a generalist, but they will have all the equipment required to cover all eventualities during a shoot. This will mean that shoots will be quicker and the results significantly better. 

3) Do they have a studio? For commercial product and food photography its generally the norm to have some kind of professional working space, whether rented, hired when needed or owned. It is worth enquiring as to the working set-up of a photographer as this may indicate whether they are financially invested in their business and how established they are.

4) I can get my products shot for £5 each ? There  is a place in the market for low cost high-volume pack-shots. Our business model and way of working isn’t  compatible with this way of working though. which is why we charge by the hour/half day/full day.We like to spend time with considered and careful lighting to make your product look as desirable as possible or to make food look delicious. To cut costs and speed up the process a lot of pack shot companies use the same lighting set ups for all products, which, at best,  does an adequate job most of the time.  Another consideration is that with many of these low cost pay per image companies they may state they offer a ridiculously low price per shot, but then you will find you will have to pay extra for the hi-res files, then additional charges are made to add drop shadows as well as clipping paths, post-production etc. This may not actually work out to be as cheaply as you think.

5) Do they do their own retouching?  You know the ads you see in magazines and on billboards, the ones for cars, beer or watches etc. Have you ever wondered what it is that makes them look so darn sexy! It must be a really expensive camera or special lens? Well, yes the camera used for those can be very expensive, but in reality the photography is actually only a part of the process. In order to create the kind of images that really stand-out requires a LOT of post production work. It is always worth finding out if the photographer carry’s out their own retouching and if its included in the cost.

6) Who have they worked with before? It’s important to find out a bit more about recent clients that the photographer has worked with.  Seeing great images in someones portfolio is important, but as a client you also want to know whether that photographer is reliable, can meet deadlines, follow briefs and produce consistent work under any conditions.

7)  surely I ‘own’ the photos once Ive paid for them, don’t I?  The photographer has legal ownership of any work he produces, which falls under a group of rights known as ‘Intellectual Property Rights’. If a photographer assigns copyright to someone else they give away all control of the images including who uses them, they also forfeit all future revenues as the new assignee can resell the images to third parties. It is very unusual for a photographer to sell the copyright and is also unneccassery as a usage license  can cover nearly all eventualities 99% of the time. Clients generally ask to have full copyright because they wish to use the images for any marketing purpose they wish or worry that you will sell the images to a third party. This can all be agreed in the usage license and is a lot more cost-effective than a full buy-out (in the unlikely event the photographer agrees to sell it).