As professional photographers, we know that how you use lighting is the single most important factor in creating exceptional images. It may seem obvious but determining the best lighting depends what the subject is, how large it is, where it’s situated and what effect you want to achieve.
So what kind of effect to do you want to create?
Your subject could be a small item with an important feature to show therefore you would need to use a small, sharp light from an acute angle, to glance across the surface and show up texture. If your subject has a smooth surface, it’s better to use a large but soft light source from the side or from above so that shadow graduates away gently to emphasise the softness.
Larger subjects would need several lights. A complex piece of machinery may benefit from some light inside to show detail and a coloured gel can add a whole extra dimension to subjects that might otherwise be considered uninteresting.
Apart from showing up the features of a subject, a photograph may need to look more dramatic to give the impression of power and strength for marketing purposes. This can be achieved with a combination of techniques to give reflections and shadow with selectively placed lighting.
When we’re photographing a person, we tend to use a ‘soft’ light that flatters them by reducing the appearance of skin imperfections and making them look friendly. By ‘soft’ we mean a large light source, such as a ‘softbox’ in our studio, which is proportionally much larger than the subject.
If a small, ‘hard’ light, like the sun, is used for people pictures it can give unpleasant, strong, dark, shadows from the nose, which are distracting and not very flattering! For exterior photography, we often use a large diffuser screen which is used to soften the harshness of sunlight. Without a diffuser, these shadows can be minimised by turning the subject so the sun is behind them and reflecting the light back onto the face or by adding some flash.
It goes without saying that it takes a long time and lots of practise to master the best lighting skills for quality, professional photography! We recommend keeping things simple and of course experimenting with different subjects and techniques.
Based in Norwich, UK we’ve been providing outstanding and creative commercial photography for over 37 years. All of our professional photographers are Associate members of the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) and have the skills and expertise to suit every project.
Our on-site facilities include a large, drive-in studio with infinity cove for photographing room sets, furniture and large business groups. We also have a smaller studio fitted out with kitchen equipment for photographing specialist products, packaging and food.
If you need a spot of product photography and are thinking ‘even though I’ve read these amazing tips I think GGS will really get the best out of my product’, get in touch to discuss your ideas with us! Email [email protected] or telephone 01603 622500.