Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More school assignment photos

In case you missed my first post about it, I'm taking a class on product photography right now.  The second assignment was to photograph something we use on a regular basis. 
I chose nail polish. 
The shot I envisioned was dark and dramatic.  I also wanted something other than just the bottle in the shot, so I painted some nails from the hardware store with some nail polish from the dollar store.  I didn't want to waste my OPI, it's a little pricey.  
On a side note - dollar store nail polish seemed to have toxic fumes - I had to use it outside because it stunk so bad.   OPI is worth it for me - it's the only polish that can handle a week of work as I lift gear, handle props and tools working as a photo assistant. 
The first week at the studio at school,  I tried lighting the bottle with studio lights.   The kits available at the studio were just too big.  There was light everywhere and nothing available to narrow it down.   Why don't they have snoots?!  It's beyond me.   
I fought with the highlights on the glass of the bottle for about 2 hours.  It's amazing what gets reflected in glass.  I also wasn't really feeling the dark vibe anymore. 

So the next week, after missing class because of working late,  I just shot at home with natural light.
 The set up for this shot in the end is almost hilariously simple compared to what I had going on in studio the first night.   I had the bottle on my dining room table, its back to the window.  It's on a shiny white surface, and I reflected light back to add the highlight with pieces of white cardboard.   I needed more sparkle on the nails themselves, so I added a mirror.   That's it. 

My assignment critique went well.  My prof said it was great, that the only thing he'd change was that there needed to be a nail that was clear, standing up and looking like a nail, so that he'd get it. 
I don't I agree, I hate when ads assume you're stupid and can't pick up on it. There isn't enough subtlety in advertising.

P.s. open to suggestions if you have a great nail polish that doesn't chip.
So far MAC has miserably failed and Essie is ok :)
Have a great Tuesday!


  1. Like the pictures!
    Xo Sarai

  2. Re: lack of snoots. Get some black foil. It's a little expensive (I paid a bit more than $30), but you can reuse the pieces over and over again. Just wrap it around the light and taper it at the end. Or poke holes in it to create rays at odd angles.

  3. Personally, I liked your dark background better then the white background. I think the nail polish stands out more with the black.
    But, I also disagree with your prof, I think the non-colored nail would have distracted from the (product) nail polish.
    But, what do I know about advertising? ;P
    I love your creative thinking!
    ps. O.p.i is also my fav, but I don't buy too many since it pretty pricy.

  4. Hmm, I don't know what I do with nail polish, because all of it, OPI included, chips within a day or so. Anyway, these are some great colours (I secretly kind of like the toxic fumes). ;D

  5. @Errant Knave - I actually have snoots for my lights at home, it's the surprising fact that my school's program does not. Doesn't seem right.
    @Kayte - Thanks! maybe I'll try to reshoot on black sometime just for kicks.
    @Emily, you're hilarious, loving the fumes!

  6. Clever idea, and I really dig the last one especially. I think it looks better with your second setup too. You've got a good eye for this sort of thing. :)

    I definitely disagree with your prof, though - it's perfectly clear as-is, and making it more obvious would take away from the inherent cleverness. There's way too much of an effort in media to dumb things down and make them as obvious as possible, but I think entertainment and advertising should give the audience/consumer something to figure out on their own, some reward for thinking/analyzing beyond a quick glance.


thank you for leaving a comment! i love to know what you think :)


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