Creating a commercial shoot from scratch is somewhere between business and art. On the art side, you want to make sure you are proud of what you have created, and on the business side, you have to meet a deadline, keep a budget and deal with a client.
There is a lot to be said on how to manage the business side of such a shoot, but today I want to focus on the artistic side. Specifically, I want to talk about creating a winning frame while keeping budget in mind
About two months ago, I was invited to shoot a campaign for a cosmetic brand called KEF (which translates to fun). It’s a vivid brand with a very strong visual language which is celebrating life and is always extremely colorful.
The brief stated that KEF is launching a new line of shower products with unique smells with a new brand presenter.
The star of this campaign was Liel Eli, an Israeli influencer. Aside from being the face of the campaign, her values matched the values of the brand.
In terms of reference, we got an album, which we converted into a mood board. Mood boards are critical in aligning the team with your vision and communicating with the brand. The more detailed, the better.
Set 1 – The Shower
We were asked to create an image of the model in a shower with the products next to her.
I run a medium-sized photo studio in Tel Aviv, but even we don’t have a full-fledged shower. Of course, there is always the option of finding a location, but even if we found the perfect bathroom, fitting a crew in a standard shower is not trivial. So, on to create some magic. You only need to create the things that are in the frame.
So, we were faced with the challenge of creating a happy, joyful bathroom in the studio. Or rather the appearance of a bathroom. Before the shoot, we prepared a selection of high-res large prints of tiles. We opted for the pink one and hung it off a background bar using two A clamps.
The other part of the bath was a white IKEA shelf standing on two stools. This is pretty much as makeshift as it gets, and we made sure with both the brand coordinator and the talent that the vibe is fitting.
The lighting for this set was very basic – a Godox AD600 with a 7′ umbrella and a diffuser from the front and above to create a very diffused light and avoid any shadow drama. A second diffused AD600 with a 5′ umbrella was placed to the back right of the mode for the backlight. And lastly, we added a silver reflector on the left to open up the shadows.
The only thing left was to fire up the bubble gun.
- Camera: Nikon Z6
- Lens: Nikon 105 f2.8 macro – this is my goto portrait lens, as it provides amazing subject-to-background separation with incredible bokeh.
- ISO: 160, Shutter: 1/200, Aperture: f/7
Set 2 – The Candy Shot
One of the new products that KEF was launching is candy-scented shampoo. Since you can’t smell photos, we agreed with the brand to shoot Liel submerged in candies.
For this, we needed a little carpentry. We asked our art director to contract a foam-core frame that we could lay over Liel and fill with candy. Liel was a real trooper and let us carefully pour candies all around her.
Once the set was ready, I climbed a ladder and took the shot. This time, with a light 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Lighting for this set was very much similar to the previous set, an AD600 inside a 7′ diffused umbrella from the top and a reflector to fill in the shadows.
- Lens: NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S
- ISO: 100, Shutter: 1/200, Aperture: f/7
Putting a commercial shot together does not mean you have to break the bank. Make sure you keep open communications with the brand, get the best team you can, and let everyone do their job. Miracles will happen
About the Author
Hadar Cohen (28) is a commercial photographer from Tel Aviv, Israel. He runs a photography studio called 206. You can see more of his work on his website and Instagram.
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