PHOTOGRAPHY CHEAT SHEET
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/160
APERTURE: f/2.8 – f/4
ISO: 320 – 640
(ITEMS ARE LINKED BELOW)
Photographer: Andrew Kung/Andrew Kung Group
Assist/BTS: Catherine Jones, Rachel Lutz,
Nathan Smith, Zach Browning, Carson Thaxton/Andrew Kung Group
Category: Softgoods Lifestyle Commercial Photoshoot Case Study
Client: Curl In (www.curl-in.com)
Some of my favorite commercial shoots are on-location, environment lifestyle shoots for clients who manufacture and retail consumer and household goods. I think for me, there’s a certain attraction to this type of photoshoot because of the mission to create scenes and environments that showcase the consumer/household good in a relatable but aspirational way. Our team has been tasked with this sort of mission for many different clients such as Valvoline, Tempur-Pedic, Sealy and General Electric Appliances and every time we get the call to produce such a shoot, I am very confident that we’ll produce some aesthetically pleasing results.
I will walk you step-by-step throughout our entire process on the day-of in regards to achieving the look and feel of the final deliverables that you will see below.
Our client, Curl In (you can visit them at www.curl-in.com), produces high-end and extremely plush and comfortable blankets that are great for daytime and nighttime use, for the moments when you just want to get snuggly and curl in. This is a product that is meant for everyone and especially for those who value comfort, style and simplicity. Our goal was to present an environment that would resemble your aspirational but relatable home setting on a ‘very nice non-seasonal day’.
As with any non-studio environment, it is tough to fully predict and control how the setting will present itself on the day of the shoot. Though we had a relatively clear and sunny day, the sun’s rays were not hitting the areas that we needed to shoot in. Furthermore, it wasn’t at the intensity that we preferred and needed for that time of day. Thankfully, there were no other weather related challenges so we could move relatively quickly to solve the sunlight issue.
Our team anticipated a few different scenarios of what would be needed after scouting the shoot location during pre-production (very important) and so we packed gear that we could use to solve these challenges. Primarily, this shoot was conducted with continuous LED lighting, with the usage of one strobe (very sparingly) to augment the lighting of the scene slightly. To solve the challenge on our first scene, we used 3 high powered LED monolights to place outside the windows to simulate sunlight. Below is a breakdown of what we did:
This was the main scene with the two large windows directly behind our talent, Adrienne and Paige, where the outdoor view was not bright and sunny enough since the sun was actually behind the house and not providing enough sunlight for our external view.
We placed the three Godox SL200 LED Monolights (5600k) with reflector attachments, high and on the left, outside the frame to simulate some hard sunlight coming in through the windows. The objective was to have the light rake through the window frame, curtains and plants to be able to add a lot of warmth and realness to the scene. These 200w LED lights did the job well and because of their economical and lightweight nature, we could pack a lot of these in our kit for such a situation. The lower power draw was also helpful since we could just plug these into a regular household outlet.
For the interior (which would have been quite dark naturally), we wanted to match the same feel of a bright and sunny day so we placed our key light, a Litepanels Gemini 2×1 LED panel on the left, which illuminated the space and our models well and then we placed our fill light, which was another LED panel on the right, bouncing into the ceiling (at a much lower power).
Lastly, for some shots of Adrienne, the model on the left, we used a Profoto B1X monolight flash, pointed towards the general direction of the camera lens and white radiator on my left to add a subtle light flare into the lens and for some additional fill.
Here’s a wider behind the scenes look of the setup from the point of view of the camera:
Our next shot was in the same space with just an outfit change. Here are more images including a close-up of what our ‘sunlight’ effect looked like:
Here are more images of Paige with some medium shots where you can really see the effect of the ‘sunlight’:
And here is a wide behind-the-scenes shot showing all the lights used except for the fill light on camera right that is bouncing into the ceiling:
The next scene was in the living room space but we had the same exterior view in sight so we left the exterior lights up to continue to simulate our much needed sunlight. Our talent for this scene was Ariane and we placed her in the middle of the room on the couch. We used the same setup as the prior scene, which is to key with the Gemini from the left but this time, we wanted a slightly softer look, so we wrapped it in Rosco 1/2 White Tough Diffusion. We then filled the rest of the space with a Brightcine 2×1 LED panel bounced into the ceiling. These were the only 2 lights we used for this scene.
Here are some wide behind-the-scenes shots of the whole setup showing all lights used:
For Scene 3, we moved into the bedroom and continued to use Ariane, seated on a chair by the window. Since we had the same challenge of not having sunlight coming through windows, we incorporated the same setup with the 3 exterior LED monolights. For the interior lighting, we placed our key light panel camera left and bounced into the ceiling and our fill was on camera right, bounced into the ceiling (at a lower power).
You can view the wide behind-the-scenes shot here:
Here is an exterior behind-the-scenes shot of the exterior LED monolights – our ‘sunlight’:
More medium shots with Ariane and the Curl-In blanket:
We’ve included additional final images of this scene as well as some with our talent, Lindsey and Paige again where the lighting did not change since it worked for the shots on the bed as well:
Our second to last scene was probably the most challenging since we moved to a new location and partially outdoors, under a covered patio space. We were moving quickly to avoid having to scrim the entire exterior opening of the patio to diffuse the sunlight coming in as the sun’s angle changed as it got later in the day, the opposite problem we had at our first location. At this time of day, the indoor/outdoor space was really contrasty between the exposed and shaded areas so we used the sunlight as well as 3 LED light panels to create the look that we needed.
The Gemini on camera right served as our key light which technically, was just our most powerful fill light for our subject, set higher in power than our two other fill lights behind the camera, on the left and right, pointing directly at our model. Our sunlight was essentially our key light here coming from the left.
Here is a wide shot of the setup for this scene showing all lights used to achieve the shot:
We used the same setup for medium and close-up shots of the Curl-In product alone as well:
Our final scene which was basically the same setting with an angle, wardrobe and very slight mood change (essentially Scene 4.5) had our key lights now coming in from cameral left and a fill light bounced into the ceiling on camera right. You can see the fill light reflected in the mirror in the shot below as well as the wide behind-the-scenes shot with all lights showing:
Our overall goal was to be able to cover a lot of ground quickly, without too much of an elaborate setup and footprint and to be able to create imagery that was authentic, relevant and aesthetically pleasing. We wanted to keep things looking more natural and less dramatic/produced while still exposing our models and our client’s product beautifully and accurately.
For more LED light panel related articles, click here.
Want to try out this setup? Rent this setup for your next continuous light commercial photoshoot!
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FOUNDER, INSTRUCTOR, NINJA
Andrew has over 15 years of experience in the field and has served on set as the Director of Photography and Principal Stills Photographer for various commercial and advertising campaigns for companies such as Valvoline, Tempur-Pedic, Humana, Churchill Downs and General Electric Appliances.
When he’s not craving sushi (or talking about it), Andrew is an instructor, ninja, and founder of Visionspire. He loves traveling out West, particularly in Sedona and San Diego, sharing cute animal videos, and experimenting with cocktails like he’s the personal mixologist for Bill Murray (his words, not ours).