Thursday, April 21, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

Those of you who follow my Facebook updates will know that I have been pretty inundated with work as of the last week and a half. Ironically in the middle of all the craziness is when I find time to blog for the first time in 3 months. Most of that is because I can't go to bed until I have a DVD burned for a client drop off tomorrow. But also because I wanted to share an experience I had this week.

A few months ago I did a for-fun shoot of a bottle of cologne I got for Christmas. The thought was to get another product shot for my portfolio, but also to play with the whole concept of specular highlights on a shiny object and refresh my mind on how that all worked.

I probably spent about 2-3 hours on that shoot and walked away with one solid image. Most of that time was spent playing with different lighting setups and seeing what worked and what didn't work. A bit extreme and somewhat of a waste of time you might say... Perhaps.

Little did I know there was going to be a pay off for doing all of that.
3 months down the line I answered a CraigsList ad someone posted who needed some product shots. I thought it would be a great chance to get some more products for the portfolio. The poster suggested the shoot should take 4-6 hours. I remembered some of my other product shoots and thought that was probably around half of what I could do it in. Nevertheless, I signed on and picked up the products on Sunday. Monday night came around and I had the table-top studio set up in about 15 minutes and found all the pieces/parts that I had used on the bottle from Christmas. (ALWAYS keep your lighting modifiers! It will save you time later on.)

Now this is where the spending 3 hours on a fun shoot really paid off for me. Because, had I not done that just a few months ago, I would have had to put the time in this week, playing with the lights, reflectors, highlights, background, etc to try to get the desired lighting effect. This would not have been a good week for that as I've been crazy busy. But since it was something I had already figured out how to do, it was set up in minutes and I was done shooting the entire box of products (32 shots total) in under 60 minutes. Which left me time to do the post processing I needed to do and still come in about 3.5 hours under the time frame originally forecasted by the client.

This took me back to when I was first starting out in photography. I was taking photos of EVERYTHING. I can go back to some of the old archival disks I have and show you photos of pens, thermostats, books, and other random things. To people looking through my camera at the time, it must have seemed like I would photograph anything that would stand still long enough to be captured. But the real reason was that I wanted to be SURE I completely understood how my camera worked and what the best method was to photograph different types of things. Years later I would be in a position to photograph something that mattered and because of all the "meaningless" photos I'd taken before, I knew the important shots would come out when I needed them to.

So, having said all of that, don't be shy about having fun with your camera, lens, lights, etc. Play with them and test stuff out because, who knows.... someday you may need to know how to do something and the time you spend now could mean the difference between being paid a flat rate to work for 6 hours, or 2.5 hours.

Now, because you've all been so nice to read this, I'll leave you with some of the photos:

And that is it from me. DVD is burned, and labeled.
Stay tuned for some photos from some of my other escapades from the last few days!

As always, thanks for reading!
Check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and you can see my full portfolio online at

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Blogger E. Setter said...

Great stuff Ray! Thanks for blogging such smart and useful stories!

April 21, 2011 at 1:10 PM  

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