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We’ve had the pleasure of doing product photography for Kjaer Weis for a few years now. Their cosmetics feature an Intelligent Refill System which allows them to be replenished – an environmentally responsible and practical feature considering the compacts are very well made and not intended to be discarded after a single use.
Kjaer Weis compacts are really incredibly made products. Because of the shiny metal surface and combination of textures we had to use a few tricks to get everything looking right. I thought we’d share a bit about some of the product photography techniques that go into shooting a product like this. The compacts come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but they all feature a highly polished metal case with a lid that swivels out of the way revealing the cosmetics inside. The lid has two types of embossing, one of them I’m told is a hand injected white enamel inlay.
From a product photography standpoint, there were several challenges to overcome even in this simply arranged photo (right) showing a direct view of an opened compact. The polished metal requires very different lighting than the cosmetic itself, yet they both appear in the frame together. Because of this, we decided to shoot several images of the compact, each with slightly different lighting and then combine them in post to create the ideal finished image. This way the metal can have ideal lighting and so can the cosmetics, hopefully describing to the viewer the exact qualities of the product.
Correctly showing a highly polished or chromed surface can be challenging, but even more so when the surface is flat and square with the camera. This orientation would usually result in the camera or lighting being reflected in the product surface, since it’s basically a mirror aimed directly at the camera lens. To overcome this, the body of the compact was photographed very slightly off-center so we could control the lighting without the camera equipment being visible. The perspective of the image was later corrected in Photoshop to make it appear that it was photographed flat to the camera.
Another challenge with photographing flat metal is making it look like it has a mirror polish. In still product photography we can’t show how the reflections move as they do when the compact is held in the hand. We also can’t show reflections of other things or the environment in order to describe the texture. Instead we need to play with bands of light areas and dark areas. During discussions with Kjaer Weis’s art director, it was decided that there should be a thick black band which crossed the embossed logo area before making a sharp transition to an evenly lit bright chrome. A benefit of this sharp transition is not only to better describe the brilliant polish, but it also reveals microscopic ripples and texture that describe to the viewer the nature of the metal body and lid.
With the hard part of the main body complete we could finish up a couple more details before assembling the finished photo. The white enamel still needed to be photographed as well as the cream blush. Neither of these should be lit in a way that makes them appear like they were photographed at a different time or style as the metal body. Care must be taken that the overall light direction is the same as the rest of the product.
With the white enamel we used a soft box to shape the light and give an accurate depiction of the contour, since it is not a flat enamel and we wanted to show that. For the cream blush we used a beauty dish with a white sock diffuser on it because we didn’t want to use a light that was overly soft. This also helped to show the contour of the blush, which also isn’t flat, but slightly concave at the edges.
With all of the source imagery completed we chose the best shots from the raw images, cleaned them up, and assembled them into the final image shown above – which is just one photo of many in the project. The photos turned out great, the client was happy, and we’re happy to share this work with everyone. Thank you Kirsten, we had a great time shooting these!
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