Aug 25

It’s fun to look back at the shots taken on a shoot, to see how we progressed from the initial quick shots, through refinement, to the final shot. In this post, I will show you how we worked our way through a cosmetic shot.

Our brief called for a bright, natural looking shot of cosmetics, with an antique feel. We needed to use robin’s egg blue in the shot, and highlight a few of the cosmetic products provided by the client.

To keep things looking natural, we used natural light, back-lit from a window. Here was the first shot – throwing a few things onto the set to see how they’d look in the given light.

honeypie  0175 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #1

The shot is under-exposed, but gave us an idea of how the products would look together. The big problem is the various sizes of the cosmetics and the different finishes (milky plastic, clear plastic, and tin).

We next tried opening up some of the products and looking at them from a different angle. Here’s where we went next:

honeypie  0179 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #2

Not overly motivating – this mix of products was going to take some time to work out. The product in the tins was of a very neutral palette – which was in contrast to the white cream in the high plastic container, and the brighter colours in the tiny plastic containers. This higher angle shot confirmed the challenge of getting the products working together from a colour stand-point.

honeypie  0181 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #3

The under-exposure doesn’t make it as apparent, but the contents of the various containers still weren’t going to work together. We added the powder to the mix – but it was similar to the products on the left in terms of palette neutrality. We tried accessorizing, moving the products around, adding new ones, removing existing ones, but finally realized it wasn’t going to work and we had to try something different.

So we abandoned the setup and started with a fresh perspective, and came up with this:

honeypie  0187 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #4

Now we’re starting off better – we used an old flaking mirror with a robin’s egg blue sheet under the mirror. Still using natural light, but we can see real promise in this direction. Luckily, the client was in agreement that we needed to abandon the dark surface used in the first shots.

Our next challenge – introduce more elements and see if we can get them looking great together. Here’s where we ended up next:

honeypie  0192 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #5

You can see the challenge in trying to get these products looking great together. They are different enough to be challenging, but we knew that with enough work, we could make it work. We started moving products around, taking some out of their containers, pouring them about, and accessorizing, and here’s where we ended up next:

honeypie  0210 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #6

We also started playing with a bit of fill light from the camera’s perspective to brighten the front sides of each of the containers. The flower petals were starting to work, and the addition of the antique mirror (a requirement for the shot) were starting to work. They’re rough, but the direction is promising.

But before we accessorize much more, we need to deal with the difference in sizes between the various containers. The milky white cream was demanding too much attention, and our attempts to hide the tin behind it wasn’t working. We needed to change our perspective, so we came up with this:

honeypie  0219 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #7

It’s getting there. Still not pleased with the size of the product in the centre, and we weren’t sure about the powder – it’s not clear what it is. Without the container, it could be anything. More tweaking:

honeypie  0225 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #8

We removed the powder, tipped the milky cream on its side, and changed the focal point, moving it forward to the small products on the left. Unfortunately, even with those two changes, the cream still demanded too much attention – it was as big on its side as sitting up-right. Solution – move the product to the edge of the shot, like this:

honeypie  0238 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #9

Ah, that’s it! Some tweaking, accessorizing, and we’ll have this shot complete. We added another metal element in the background, and decided to bring back the flowers and work on placement. Sometimes the first placement works, sometimes it doesn’t – we just had to try and see what worked. We ended up with something like this:

honeypie  0252 Stepping through a still life shoot

Shot #10

We were getting really close. A few more tweaks, placement of the flowers, and ultimately nailed the shot. Took about 2 1/2 hours, but worth it – would you agree?

honeypie  0259 Stepping through a still life shoot

Final Shot

Client was pleased, and we breathed a sigh of relief that we were ultimately able to make the very different products work well together. It’s fun to scroll back and see all the steps and the progressions made to come up with the final shot. There was no post-processing – what was shot in-camera was what we delivered to the client. Typical for our natural light setups.

Hope you enjoyed it! Till next post.

2 Responses to “Stepping through a still life shoot”

  1. Andriy says:

    Wow, wealth of information here. Thanks for sharing the whole process

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