Practice Makes Perfect – Hone Your Photography Skills With Everyday Objects
I regularly teach a workshop here in The Philippines and I always tell my students that I learned photography because I practice and shoot almost every day. I normally work in organized chaos, I have so many toys lying around my home studio, but there is a reason for each and every item. I regularly practice my photography by shooting everyday objects that I find in the house. I think this is the best way to practice your photography, by looking at your surroundings and making them your subjects, things, people, or even your environment.
I like to shoot products, just simple products that I use and see every day in my house but I try to light them to make them more presentable. This is how I practice my photography so when the real job comes I know what to do. It is also a nice way to add stuff to your portfolio. Here are a couple of simple products that I practice with and try to light.
One of the best books about photography is Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. I regularly search websites and magazines and look for inpiring photos. When I see a shot that I like, I want I use as lighting inspiration for my photography. But I also want to add my own spunk to it. For this one, I wanted to challenge myself by trying to replicate the photograph in the cover of the book.
For this shot I had two studio stobes with softboxes, one upper left of my subject and one right of my subjects. Then a speedlight with red gel for the background (I explain the red gel thing here).
Before I became a photographer I was a lead guitarist in a band. I had a couple of guitars but my first electric guitar was a Wasburn strat.
I wanted to highlight the curves of the guitar so I used two softboxes left and right of the subject. My problem was that my mainlights were hitting my background – so I used some black cloth to flag off the light. Then I added a flash with CTB gel on the background.
You don’t need a studio to practice your photography! I shot this in our living room. For some reason I don’t like throwing boxes of the things I buy, so I have them piled up in my room (If you have a similar situation, make a small giggle now). I used an old 85mm 1.8Ai lens for this shot.
For my mainlight I used my diy beautydish camera left. For the kicker light I had a studio strobe with snoot and CTB gel back right of my subject. Lastly, for the background I used some plastic and a car reflector to get the bokeh (explained here) and flash with CTB gel again to get the blue color.
I had this piece of local chocolate lying around and wanted to play with it. To make it look like it’s floating I used a steel wire and taped it at the back of the chocolate and edited it out in photoshop.
For the mainlight I used a shoot thru umbrella camera left. For the rimlighting I used two softboxes back left and right of the subject. I needed a little bit of fill so I placed a silver reflector below. And lastly, I placed a flash with CTO gel on the background.
You don’t really speedlights or studiostrobes to practice your photography. I lit this only using a piece of flashlight. I used the flashlight to light the subject, and then using long exposure to create the lightstreaks.
My girlfriend and I love coke. So normally I have coke in cans in the ref for my stock. I really liked this black can and wanted to create a black on black shot. I used my granite tile again for this shot. To make the can look more apealing, I sprayed water on it and gave it some moisture.
For rim lighting I used two softboxes facing each other back left and right of the subject. And had a sb-600 with DIY honeycomb to light the can itself.
Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!