Product photography can be difficult. You need to worry about lighting, positioning, product cleanliness, sense of scale, and much more. We deal with a lot of issues, the one we will deal with in this post is precisely placing products for repetitive photography.
Shooting multiple colors (or other variations) of one product is quite common for product photographers. Swapping out products can be easy or hard depending on the product. One consistent challenge is getting the second and third products to be exactly were the first one was. Besides for obviously wanting all the photos to look the same, you want the lighting to match. Lighting reacts differently to different surfaces and sometimes I'll spend a good hour setting up gradients and highlights just right. If the second product is even a bit off, your lighting can change drastically.
So what can be done to mark your exact location?
Use blocks or brackets to mark the spot.
A while back I saw a video in which a food photographer used two blocks to mark the spot were his plate was. He had set up the lighting with a stand-in plate so that the perfect plate created by his stylist would not need to sit for the amount of time it takes to set up lighting. I kept that tip in the back of my mind until I started to do my own work. When the time came I went out to get myself some small wooden blocks. At some point I realized instead of creating a 'V' with the blocks every time I needed a place holder, I could just buy some L brackets!
And that is the trick to lining up multiple products in the same place, at the same angle!
Except that only works half the time. You see, another thing we photographers have to do is mount products vertically. Stands, fishing string, wire, and even plastic cups become important tools in our arsenal.
Well at one point I realized that if I mounted my plexiglass sideways, I could just tape my products to the wall and tada, vertical mounting! So a few clips and mounts later, I have a shooting wall!
Problem is when it comes to repetitive product placement, my L brackets won't work because, well...gravity. I don't know where the idea came from, but I realized the answer was use magnets to hold up a bracket!
I'm using some small but powerful magnets I got from Home Depot. The plexi-glass I use is thick, so a very strong magnet is needed to hold that very small metal area of the bracket. The best thing would be a larger stronger magnet that would only need one, making the whole mounting process one step shorter.
I did buy some large magnets from Home Depot to try but they did not work. They were meant to hold 60lb, on direct contact with a flat surface. FAIL. The main issue there was the magnet had a heavy metal shell, so the weight was too much for itself against the bracket. If you're going to buy yourself a magnet, get a stand-alone magnet with no case or shell. This is the magnet I'm using.
Here is the video of how I'm using the magnet + bracket:
As you can see, I'm using two brackets to hold the spot, the truth is I did that for the video and one bracket on bottom is enough if you're careful. The hold is solid enough but if you bump it, it will shift.
And that's it, my first proper blog post is live :D
Comment below and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have!