An On-the-shelf Solution

Photography is a glamorous business – snapping beautiful models in exotic locations for glossy magazines… well those are the assignments togs like to boast about. Our bread-and-butter work is often somewhat more down-to-earth, but the challenges presented are no less interesting.

three drop shelf unit

I was recently commissioned by storage specialists Tufferman to photograph the type of shelving units commonly found in garages and warehouses. The shelving needed to be presented against a pure white background, but the photography was to take place on location. This was a primarily a logistic decision meaning the shelving could be constructed (and, where necessary, reconfigured) by the client on-site without having to worry about shipping and so on.

The shoot took place in the loft space at the client’s business premises on the outskirts of Chelmsford, Essex during one of the colder snaps in January this year. I can honestly say that was one of the chilliest environments I have shot in, although I had been briefed to wrap up warm, and the client kindly provided fingerless gloves and hot soup!

the set up

A white backdrop was erected in a space that was large enough to allow use of a reasonably long focal length (between 60-70mm) that still framed these large products in their entirety. A smaller space would have shortened the focal length, which would have exacerbated problems with converging verticals. This is an issue most commonly seen with images of tall buildings – where the walls appear to converge rather than being perpendicular to the ground.

converging verticals
This is how the shelving might have looked had care not been taken with focal length and camera height. The black lines have been drawn in to show divergence from the vertical.

A reasonable amount of space was also required around the shelving units, to facilitate even lighting where flash glare on the shiny surfaces was minimized.

Part of the brief was to shoot the various units at a consistent angle, this uniformity improving the appearance of web pages where multiple images would appear together. To achieve this we marked the positions of the shelves on the paper backdrop (which was going to be cut out anyway). We also organised the shoot such that similar items were photographed contiguously – minimizing the need to move the camera position between shots.

shelf detail
All those little holes in the shelving made outsourcing the cutting-out job a no-brainer

I normally undertake all digital cutting out of subjects from backgrounds myself, but, due to the intensive nature of the selections required to cut the shelving out, the job was outsourced to a specialist, who also added a drop shadow. I then retouched the cut-out images in preparation for web and print use.

single drop shelf unit

The Tufferman guys made me feel really welcome and part of the team throughout the shoot, and that is part of the reason why I love jobs like this just as much as the glamour assignments.

To chat about your photography requirements, call me on 07757 259390 or send me a message via email.

Or check out some more examples of my product photography.

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