So, I ran a lighting workshop, here at Lencarta. Some of the people who attended it are members of Talk Photography, and you can see the (very long) thread about it here.
I’ve had a long and (mostly) good relationship with Talk Photography members for a good few years now, so thought it would be a good idea to host this free lighting workshop – after all, as one of the leading lighting manufacturers, we really ought to encourage and help people to improve their lighting skills – there’s far more to lighting than simply supplying people with the gear they need.
We ended up with 15 people, some are pro photographers, others were complete beginners to studio work but it didn’t matter because lighting for product photography is pretty specialised and even very experienced photographers can always learn something new. The idea was that they would learn about all of the various different elements that go into photographing products, and although the lighting is vitally important, there are a lot of other very important elements too, ranging from showing the most important benefits of each product, composition, camera height etc right through to controlling depth of field.
The one thing that this wasn’t about was Lencarta – as we hosted the day at the Lencarta studio and I use Lencarta lighting anyway, obviously it was Lencarta lighting that we used, but nothing that we did was specific to any particular make. Lighting is lighting and all decent makes of lights will produce the same results. Obviously, no-name brands, and especially the junk ones sold on auction sites, are both less versatile and less capable than branded products.
I did some prior research, and found that the people who run paid courses usually photograph a limited range of products that they make available in their own studio. There’s nothing actually wrong with that, but I decided to ask people to bring along something of their own to photograph, that way we would have a wide range of different photography/lighting challenges to overcome. This may not be the easiest approach for us, but it would be the most useful end result for them 🙂
As a pro photographer who specialises in just two photography disciplines, fashion and product photography, I’ve ended up with a lot of pretty specialised lighting equipment, and lots of it, so one of the things that I had to force myself to do was to use as little in the way of equipment possible, so that people could go home and produce their own work with whatever equipment they had available. The thing that seemed to surprise people was the amount of cheap but essential ‘bits’ that I use, for example honeycombs, lighting gels, impromptu reflectors, Cinefoil, masking tape and the like – items like these are vital for this type of work.
There was nothing much I could do about the studio. Our studio is a small part of our large warehouse, it has a high ceiling, and is nearly all black, which means that little if any unwanted light bounces around it, making life much easier. And, at 50′ long by 25′ wide, its large size makes the photography easier, but none of the products that we photographed on the day actually needed a large studio, and there wasn’t a single item that couldn’t have been shot in the average living room – our large, dedicated studio just made it a bit easier and quicker 🙂
They were a great bunch of people who worked very well together. After going through the principles involved, I started out by getting people to arrange their own products, composition-wise, and then I explained the importance of camera height and position, and then started to light each one, leaving very little for anyone else to do.
But, as the day wore on, I became more and more lazy and “asked” the people to do more an more themselves. By the time we got to the final shot, of a beer bottle and glass of beer, I had almost stopped helping and left it almost entirely to them – and they did a great job.
Anyway, there’s too much to put in a single blog, so we’re publishing it part by part over the next few days. Please subscribe to our blog, there’s a thing to click on over on the right..