Made in Belfast. Since 1962. The Vintage Satchel Company has been stitching satchels in Belfast for over fifty years and they're still at it. They use ethically sourced sustainable leather in their Belfast factory, procured from one of the few remaining tanneries in the UK. The traditional school bag has found new expression in it's boxy shape with funky colours, chunky stitching and that first-day-at-school leather smell. Rows of them trooped into the studio to be shot recently and every handle had to be slunk around or hung down on fishing wire just so. Plenty of photoshopping later and the clipped-out png files were ready to be dropped on top of whatever. I've used some colour-block backgrounds here to show off the job that was in it.
Shooting white on white
Pollins Ltd studio shoot (crockery & consumables). White glossy objects against a white backdrop are tricky to light and tricky to expose for. Of course to show pure white objects against white the shadows and modelling tones need to be dialled down - just how far is subjective. This brief was for both photography and then the brochure layout. I felt that a colour block in the background would help the products pop. A few easy mono fillers gives a bit of depth. Product pages can be very dry on their own.
More large shiny objects. Aerotank manufacture a innovative sewage product for domestic and argri sectors. The Clearhill machines in the previous post were shot in a warehouse and this gave me a little more control over the light. This shoot however was outdoors, which was problematic as we were shooting a large glossy box. A lot of the reflections simply had to be cleaned up in Photoshop. The final shots were clipped out for dropping onto various backgrounds. Background sample courtesy Freepix.
Clearhill are a big name in the retail entertainment game and their products can be found in shopping centres throughout the UK & Ireland. Photographing the machines onsite is a lovely challenge. They are big, shiny and frequently noisy. The exposures have to be spot on to make sure the colours really pop; too much flash and they blow out. The most effective solution involves bracketing and photoshopping to lift the low lights whilst at the same time capturing the illuminated panels and features. The final image might be a composite of four or five exposures.
The images are supplied as png files, fully clipped out. This allows the Clearhill marketing team to drop the machines over any background they like. The photoshopping is slow and painstaking but the results are very satisfying. I've had a bit of a play with backgrounds below to show how they can be used. The first image is a banner from the Clearhill site using one of the clipped images. Backgrounds courtesy of freepik.com
Product images with an all-white background are often referred to as 'high key'. The process in post-production of cleaning up the background and extracting the object is known as 'clipping out'. High key images have become the default visual language of online stores.
I'm not enthusiastic - whilst promoting consistency and encouraging a product to really pop on the page, it does strip an object of any context. In selling, context is king, lifestyle ambiance is brand identity. An e-commerce store presented high key will benefit from lifestyle or contextual banners, such as Habitat does here. The products are clipped out but the pages are given depth and and interest with on-brand lifestyle shot. The colours are consistent to a narrow mood board, the pages are clean and classy.
Fashion has settled on a slightly different look. I think the reasons for this are two-fold; white is very harsh and is synonymous with product selling, plus collections change constantly. Model shoots are costly and clipping out is time-consuming. The solution is muted tones and lighting that offer a softer surround. The models are shot on a white background that is slightly under-lit. This frames the model on a white website and slight shadows look more natural.
FAI offers high key product shoots. There are plenty of samples here. I use a white backdrop or a large light tent with professional studio lighting. The key is in setting the lights so that the background and object are both lit independently then exposing for both correctly. It does take a bit of practice and experience to get it right. I don't charge extra for clipping out per image, this is part of the shoot fee. It's up to me to light and expose correctly to minimise the clipping out work.