At the start of the year, before the pandemic put paid to a whole load of projects, I was asked to take in-store product photos for Ille Lan, a Korean jewellery brand that had just been stocked in Wolf and Badger, London. The client had asked to see what the stand looked like in terms of store placement and how everything had been arranged on the counter; because they’re based in Korea they had no way of knowing exactly how their products looked on the shelf.
This was a really enjoyable, if challenging, job for me because I was totally reliant on the store lighting and had to really try to position myself well to get images that were functional as well as being aesthetically pleasing.
I used my kit lens for this as its my lens with the shortest focal length at 18mm; great for dealing with the wider store images as well as helping me in a really short work space. Yep, I have a 35mm that would have a bit of a wider aperture to help with the lighting, but I knew I’d have to edit all of the images anyway so sacrificed aperture for efficiency instead.
Kit lenses get a lot of hate and I have absolutely no idea why – they cover a great range of focal lengths, do well for more than one type of photography, the aperture is pretty suitable for most settings, and they help when you can’t afford that (oh so desirable) 10mm lens for wider angle work.
I worked with a lot of single point focus for this job because the jewellery counter was small but crowded; really busy images that have lots of tiny, overlapping details, are confusing, so being able to focus on one element and blur the rest made it much easier for me to focus on the products and the counter layout.
As I mentioned; the store lighting was less than ideal, and I was working with a lens on a higher aperture so I had to get what I could in camera with the understanding that I’d need to heavily alter my images in post. There’s nothing wrong with this; it happens and doesn’t make you any less of a photographer for working this way if you’re really stuck.
The majority of the images needed similar tweaks including increasing the exposure, lowering the contrast, lifting the whites and lowering the blacks/shadows to really bring out the details of each product. Additionally, I increased the vibrancy slightly because store lighting can be incredibly flat.
There were some that I edited in black and white; I adjusted the same image elements as with the images I kept in colour however I did head to the channel mixer settings to bring out the yellows and oranges for the golds, and saturate the blues for the silvers, again to bring out the product details and give the images a bit of texture and depth.
Overall I came out with a set that I was really proud of and super excited to show Ille Lan. I’m really looking forward to doing more product work in the future!