Back In The Day – A Commercial Photo Shoot

I was going through Backup Drives to find images to post on the Blog. I found some scans of some of my Commercial work from the old film days before Digital. I thought it was interesting to look back at the process of a film Photo Shoot. This was for an Ad for a High End fixture manufacturer. The faucet was a Pewter & Antique Gold Gooseneck fixture. We came up with the idea of a setting sun reflecting on a rippled wavy Lake water. The black area on the right would have Copy & Info there and the other side would be a setting sun. The Ad Agency approved our idea so we went to work setting up the Photo Shoot. We made a Lake with a 4ft x 6 ft, 1/2 inch Plywood Board as the support for the Lake. Then we used 2×4’s to line the edges so the Fake water would be contained to the Lake. We then sealed the seam so it did not leak. Usually when we needed to sculpt water we would use Fake Water such as Aqua Gel, but we would need between 12-30 Gallons of it. That was many years ago so I forget how much we used. That was not in their budget so we used a Dippity-Do type hair product. We then cut the plywood to insert the sink and sealed the edges so we did not lose our “Lake” during the shoot. We then sculpted Waves on the left side to make the “setting” sun more interesting and prominent. For the actual photography I was using a 4×5 Sinar View Camera with a 210mm Symmar-s Lens. For the actual Faucet & Sink I was using 2 Large Softboxes with Speedotron Flash Heads. Then we setup a Flash Head with a Circular Scrim behind the setup to be the setting Sun on our fake lake and give a pop of color to the waves in the setting sun. We a tried few different “colors” for the sun as you can see in the image below. We also had a continuous E6 Film processor so that we could see the actual results in 40 some minutes and adjust lighting or tweaking the set or strobe outputs right away. Some details get “muddy” when using Polaroid Proofs. That image below is the one actually used for their ad. Thought it might be interesting to show what went into a commercial photo shoot back then. In Our Digital World now It would have been a lot Easier, But not as much fun or the skill required! Plus being I mostly like photographing birds I thought it was appropriate here.

6 Comments on “Back In The Day – A Commercial Photo Shoot

    • Yes! Digital photography in some ways is easier! And you can instantly retouch problem areas or defects in products! But it was more fun with film! But there again digital makes it easier to shoot!

  1. Commercial photography, even today with digital, is another whole world. Very different from nature work. I like the faucet and handles and bet they were indeed pricey at the high end of things. The final product looks great.
    I had a small lighting setup I purchased from Calumet several years ago but as I was doing nature photography mostly decided that it was too much like work. 🙂

    • Thanks Steve! I owned a very busy Commercial Studio for 50 years. We were very early adopters of Digital. Even testing some cameras for a few companies. That and Wide Format printers changed the way my studio operated. It was fun but also expensive to keep everything up to the newest standards. Now I am happy photographing birds, wildlife, aircraft & landscapes. And no clients & deadlines to deal with! Sometimes I miss shooting with 4×5 & 8×10 view cameras but a lot less to lug around! Towards the end we did more wide format printing, display prints, retouching & banner stands but still quite a few photo shoots. Thanks again!

    • Thanks Donna! That is why I like photographing birds & landscapes plus a few other subjects. After 50 years of photographing what client’s wanted I enjoy photographing what I want!😊

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