Written by Phillip Joshua 

Welcome to our first "behind the scenes" blog on our new website! CameraPro produces catalogues bi-annually, and for our Christmas 2017 catalogue we wanted to create a truly festive image and shoot this ourselves in house - using gear from our showroom, and an empty room as the location, we set out to create a Christmassy image for our catalogue cover. 

Keep reading to discover how we set up the shot, dressed the scene and what gear was used for the shoot! 

As a photographer in an over saturated market it can be hard to continually come up with great photos... One of the biggest advantages you can give yourself when working for a client on a tight time frame is preparation.

Preparation

Preparation is the key to a successful shoot. You should prepare and plan your shoots as if you are going to fail. Now, you might consider this a strange statement, but hear me out. If you can plan ahead and counter every situation that might go wrong, then you set yourself up for the greatest chance of success. Whether it’s simply bringing spare batteries and memory cards or being able to counter one of your studio lights failing with an extra light or small flash if need be. It will always benefit you to be over prepared and carry extra gear you may not need - better to have it on hand on not need to use it, than be stuck in a tricky situation on location, wishing you'd brought along that extra lens, battery or light stand.

This will also help you maintain professionalism in front of your clients and models. With models, where possible, look to have everything set up before they arrive so they can go straight into the shoot without needing to wait for you to finish setting up - being prepared and organised will hopefully lead you to future collaborations.

I do have to admit this is all made easier when you are shooting next to a camera store where you have full access to equipment! Although I still needed to go in with a solid idea of what the outcome would be and like most shoots photographers do, I had a tight time frame. This included building a set from scratch in an empty room and a brief of Christmas theme from our marketing manager. The biggest challenge here was turning a ‘cool’ empty and stark room into a ‘warm’ inviiteng and cosy living room with limited props on hand, and a limited amount of time to acheive the desired shot.

Here is what the space looked like before we moved in the props and set up the lighting - As you can see, not the most inspiring space to work with! 

The Mood 

Creating a warm living room Christmas scene in a blank room with cool Fluorescent lighting was a challenge. To combat this, I packed in as many fillers as possible in both the foreground and background to cover all the negative space. The floor needed to be eliminated. This was covered with the couch, presents (unfortunately empty boxes - not presents for me) and the same with the wall - covering it using a large picture. We then added a Christmas tree and festive lights and decorations.

Big blank areas in this type of photo really detract from the image and can draw the viewers eye away from the subject, so we wanted to fill the image with warmth and festive props. 

Once the props were in place it was time to set the scene with lighting. To create the warm glow of a living room at Christmas with a fire in the background we used the Aputure Amaran LED HR672 Kit – SSC. To compliment these constant lights with warming gels attached, a couple of candles were added to the background, as well as warm twinkling lights on the Christmas tree.

 Here's the final set up from a bird's eye view - note the angle of the camera in relation to the model (Carene from our Finance team!), and the positioning of multiple light sources. 

Equipment Used 

For the shoot we used a Canon 5D MK IV with a Canon 50mm f/1.2L IS USM, which is always a great pairing. The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art was attempted for a slightly softer background, however the space did not permit this focal length to be used as it was such a small room. The lighting was kept as simple as possible and we used only two of the Aputure Amaran LED HR672 Kit – SSC. One of these was placed on the ground behind the wrapped empty boxes (presents) to get rid of the white wall and the other light was placed on a Manfrotto 1052BAC Stackable 3 Sections Air Cushioned Light Stand 2.3m as the main light for the model approximately 1.5m away, raised to about 2m high.

I also had an assistant who was able to hold the picture up in the background as we were not able to drill holes in to the wall to hang it and had no 3m tape readily available - so we really had to make do with the resources we had on hand, and fortuntely Misty from our Newstead office was willing to hold up the picture up for me. This black and white picture on the wall was an integral part to the final image as without it there was a large blank wall that was extremely distracting in the background.

When shooting the image for the cover of the catalogue, use of a wide aperture meant the picture on the wall in the background was not in focus, and this worked well to fill the otherwise empty space on the wall. There were also a ton of props used in the shoot including candles, presents (we created), Christmas tree, couch, fairly lights, and extra decorations - all of this combined filled up the space, making it really feel like we were in a cosy living room. 

 Here's the final image we used for the cover of our Christmas 2017 Catalogue - Thanks to Carene for modelling for us! 

A Final Thought

 Overall, I feel the the photoshoot went fairly smoothly due to three main factors -  

  1. Preparation – Being prepared saves time and possible disaster! 

  2. Visualisation – Knowing how you want the final image to end up is crucial, whether your client is instructing you or you have full creative control, have a plan of what you want your final product to be. If possible, do a quick sketch of what you'd like the final image to look like. 

  3. Team – Whether you have one person to assist or you have a full production team, having good people around you makes all the difference! If you don’t want to pay for assistants work with friends and take turns shooting and assisting. Without help from some of the CameraPro team including Misty and Carene, this scene could have been an all-day shoot, however was cut down to a few hours from start to finish including building Christmas Tree and creating presents, all because of the willing help of some of the CameraPro team members.  Thank you to everyone who helped bring this all together in such a short time! 

 

Below is the final image as it appears on the front of the catalogue. You will notice the final image has been flipped and this was a decision by the marketing team to allow the image to best fit the branding of the catalogue, with room for text to be added. 

I hope this insight into behind the scenes of our catalogue cover shoot has been interesting and inspiring for you! If you'd like to test out any of the gear mentioned in this article, feel free to come in to either of our stores in Brisbane - we'd be happy to show you the gear and give you some tips on how to get the most out of it.