Building a product photography set plays a huge part in what we do in the studio. In some cases, it’s even the most challenging part of our photography process (if you haven’t yet, make sure to check out our previous blog about how to photograph bottles). It’s not only time-consuming, but it also has to match exactly what we envision.

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Most sets are easy to build. But the ones that involve suspending objects in the air often require meticulous planning and execution.

We’d like to show you a few behind-the-scenes photos from our Skating Flamingo photoshoot and let you in on a few tricks we used to achieve the money shot!

The Process

Our plan was to recreate the outdoors inside the studio. But we also wanted to make it look more whimsical than realistic.

The first step was to cut out a huge piece of a sky paper background and taped it to the wall.

We got the background from Michael’s for about $10 and have used it for so many projects.

The clouds look like they were taken from a Magritte painting. So that definitely helped convey the “whimsical” look we wanted to achieve. 

We used a 3×4 foot piece of plywood as the foundation for our product photography set. An employee from Home Depot gave it to us for free and we’ve been using it as a shooting table ever since. Because of its white veneer, it looked like concrete pavement from the camera’s perspective.

We then cut two long pieces of astroturf and rolled them along both sides of the plywood to make them look like sidewalk lawn. Artificial grass can be expensive, but you can get a 4ft. roll for less than $40.

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The most challenging step was to set up the shoes and the flamingo on top of the skateboard.

To make the flamingo stand erect, we taped it to steel rods which were, in turn, clipped to a magic arm.

Magic arms are essential tools in the studio. We use them to do anything from supporting our camera to rigging lights and suspending objects. We have Manfrotto magic arms, but you can get cheaper versions for about $15 to $20.

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Finally, we slipped a fishing line through the eyelets of the back shoe to make it look like it’s floating.

The fishing line is the simplest solution for suspending objects in the air. Because it’s so thin, it doesn’t even show up in our shots most of the time!

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The entire rig was supported by a C-stand with a holding arm. Since the rig was above the set, most of it wasn’t in the frame at all.
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The whole process took about 3 hours. And after a quick Photoshop work erasing the rig, we ended up with the final photo below.
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So what do you think? Will you be able to build your own product photography set?

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