It is amazing how something as simple as a pair of glasses can completely change your look, whether you wear them everyday or just when the sun is out. I wear glasses by necessity and really appreciate a well-crafted pair. That is one reason I love Kala Eyewear. Their glasses are made by hand here in the Bay Area which is another reason. I got the chance to photograph two styles: Twiggy and Mick. Each pair is a piece of art with the potential to transform individuals. I wanted to showcase them as such so I built simple risers to create a graphic scene which would highlight the design and quality details. See their whole collection here: kalaeyewear.com
I teamed up with Amanda Hughes-Watkins and some of her colleagues from Hot Fruit to produce some imagery for their website. Hot Fruit is a series of events that connect women professionals with other like minded "Fruits" in a variety of fields. They had a great vision for the look and content of the photos and I was happy to help harvest the imagery. The direction was unique with exotic fruits, sweet wines, shapely greenery, and a delicious color palette. I think the images we created are rich and painterly. It was a fun shoot and great to collaborate with this bunch. Go to www.hotfruit.us.
Millie Lottie has taken totes to the next level. Jan Hammock, the owner of Millie Lottie, wanted to show that these bags were more than just a stylish tote bag and that they had clever features to make transporting foods much easier.
I worked with Jan to create simple sketches in a storyboard format showing the different camera angles I would use and what action would be taking place in each shot. I had to think about what the finished video would show and how it would piece together in editing. I needed to highlight the individual parts of the interior of the bag and how it simplifies bringing food to a pot luck or picnic.
I have a good friend who works at KALW (San Francisco’s public radio). I've helped him out with some photography in the past. When I was cruising the KALW website I noticed that the team could use some new portraits for their profiles. I approached them about volunteering my photo services for a day to update their head shots. The response was positive and I had many active participants who let me photograph them. I wasn't sure where I would be shooting or how much space I would have to work with so I kept my set up simple as possible. Even so, we had to temporarily take over some desk space to fit the setup. Thankfully everyone was very nice and willing to accommodate us for the day.
It was a fun day of meeting radio personalities and contributing to a local station. I was able to match a face with the voice of the radio hosts and meet all the people that work so hard to produce great radio shows about what’s happening in the Bay Area. They make it all seam so easy, but now I have a better idea of how much work goes into every show.
I worked with local chocolate maker 9th and Larkin on some photos. They make bean-to-bar chocolate by hand right across the hall from my studio. This style of chocolate making allows for the unique, region-specific flavors to come out in the chocolate. There are two ingredients to these single origin bars: cacao and sugar. The flavors are dictated mostly by the environment where the cacao plants grow and the differences are quite noticeable even for an untrained chocolate fan like myself. I tried to illustrate the story of how this process takes place, from the cacao pods, to the beans, to the nibs, and finally the finished dark chocolate. It was fascinating to learn the details of this hand crafted treat and taste the range of flavors. Check out 9th and Larkin here.
The Runwell Turntable from Shinola is a fantastic object to photograph. The first photo shows how well it looks in a room, no need to hide it in a cabinet. It’s beautifully crafted and has all the elements that make lighting fun: smooth metallic surfaces, wood texture, soft leather, etc. The design of the product allows for some fun abstraction as well. Photographing close up on the Runwell shows off the craftsmanship and simplicity of the design. This allows the viewer to focus on and appreciate each of the Runwell’s distinctive attributes.
Recently I found a local maker who crafts very unique handbags. By local I mean 2 blocks from my studio. Future Glory has a minimalist style to their handbags so I used a minimalist approach to the photography. The corner where the surface and wall meet is illustrated almost exclusively by the shadow and how it changes angles. I used a hard light to create the shapes of the shadows that fall on the surface and crawl up the wall. One bag has very organic designs and the other a geometric grid pattern. The shadows mimic these designs with a leaf and a triangle. The images are also in opposition in that one has a shadow cast onto the bag. The other has a triangle of light beaming down onto the bag. The positive and negative space created with the light and shadow is opposite in the two images. You can learn more about Future Glory by clicking here.
Styles and trends have a tendency to come back around over time. I've found myself attracted to an older lighting technique we used to use often in the 90s. Colored gels were used to fill in shadows and create colorful images.
My new work is a play on that technique but a touch refined. When a shadow is filled with color it becomes more of an element in the photo, making things more colorful and graphic.
I’m exploring more with dramatic lighting on products. This time I was working with more rugged bags and chose stronger lighting to accentuate them. The shadows are darker than I often do, which adds to the mood of the photos.
The above photo features the Spectre Backpack and other items made by Triple Aught Design.
The photo below features the Journeyman backpack and other items made by Filson.
There are many important elements of a photo which can drastically change the overall look. Once I have the composition set I work on the lighting. This can range from soft, shadowless lighting all the way to hard light with deep, dark shadows. For these images I chose lighting in between the 2 extremes...to give it some depth and character while still highlighting the product.
The photos feature Spicer Bags (www.spicerbags.com), from a cool company that makes their bags here in San Francisco.
For this test, I was most interested in the flash duration. The test subject needed to be fun yet also demonstrate how well the Pro-10 can stop motion. Breaking glass ranks pretty high on the fun scale and is an excellent way to test freezing action.
Rather than clear glass, I dropped a mirror because it can reflect color, adding some unpredictability and creativity to the photo. A tent was built of seamless colored paper for the mirror to reflect. The dropped mirror was captured right after it had bounced off the ground and shattered still keeping its shape. When the mirror broke, each piece of glass reflected a different color from the paper tent, creating a mix of color shapes.
There was, of course, some testing to achieve the right timing and delay setting of the trigger before breaking the first mirror. To capture the mirror in focus (and to add to the superstitious nature of the shoot) I photographed at f13. The fastest flash durations of the Pro-10 are at the lower power settings. I used a flash duration of 1/45,000 (2.2) for the main head and 1/26,000 (4.2) for the head that was lighting the color paper. Both measurements are using the t.5 method and illustrated in this chart from Profoto:
Each mirror drop was captured by 3 different cameras, each at various angles. In the end, I only ended up using two of the camera angles.
If you've used any of the newer Profoto strobes, B1, B2, or D2, you'll be instantly familiar with the menus and interface of the Pro-10. The pack itself is very refined. If you need to photograph a splash of liquid or explosion of some kind, you'll need a fast flash duration. The Pro-10 definitely provides that.
I'm very pleased with how the images turned out. They are quite beautiful, well worth earning years of bad luck for smashing mirrors!
Here's a behind the scenes video: https://www.periscope.tv/peter_belanger/1lDGLRVjyaRxm?t=3s
Recently I’ve been receiving more requests for shoe photos in my portfolio. I’ve decided it was time to embrace my love for shoes and create whole gallery of shoes. I've added some new photos from ideas that have been brewing. Shoes have such a personality, which makes them fun to photograph.
Below are two photos from the new gallery coupled with behind the scene photos.
I had an idea for a stop motion piece bubbling around in my head for some time. It was very loose and incomplete but fate presented me with the exact things I needed to tie it all together, a box of old slides and prints. These were recently given to me by a family member and there's more nostalgia than in the images alone. Holding and viewing the chrome slides and seeing the old way we used to capture, view, and appreciate images was great fun. It made me reflect on how photography has changed. This stop motion piece uses the old media as props and to create a color palate. Much the way a latent image would become visible as it soaks in developer in a darkroom, this image comes to life before the viewer's eyes. To complete this effect we worked in reverse.
Little piles a sawdust were placed for each frame of the stop motion.
Slivers of the frame were cut off and small pieces of the flower print were ripped away after each shot. The final video shows the framed photo appear from nothing. This took a while to create but I'm very happy with the final piece.
A popular camera angle these days is looking straight down onto the subject. What I wanted to play with in my most recent work is using this point of view to abstract a figure. This high viewpoint allowed me to play with light and shadow in a surrealistic way as well as create an interesting composition where the shadow takes on a leading role. I couldn't have done this one all by myself so thanks to stylist Joanna Andreoni for all her help and Tarah Dowling for her expert performance as our subject.
I was also able to create a simple stop motion piece that incorporates motion into the concept and takes the surrealism a bit further.
My most recent work involves the use of lasers. As soon as I mentioned to my youngest son what I was up to at work, he insisted on coming in to the studio and helping out. It took some experimentation to figure out the setup but he was very willing to lend a hand. Here he is testing out the timing of the laser trigger rig. We needed to adjust the delay between the time the ice broke the laser beam and when it enters the glass to get just the right splash.
One thing my son has always liked about my work is the cool gadgets I get to use in the creation of imagery. I have to agree, lasers are pretty awesome!
Our belongings change throughout our lives. Here are two still-lives that reflect this change.
Shadows are always fun to play with. In this new set of photos I’ve picked food with a unique shape. They are floating in a surreal environment showcasing their shadows. Looking at the shadow you can immediately recall what fruit or vegetable created it.
It was nice to have the opportunity to work with Kyle and Geoff again. They aren’t strangers to my blog. A search for Dwell on my site will most likely reveal a photo of them. This time we worked to revamp e-commerce photos for Sightglass, an independent coffee company in San Francisco.
Our goal was to capture the products in a consistent way so the photos would family well together. We didn’t want the camera angle to jump around so we chose to photograph everything from the same perspective. This meant, for instance, that coffee filters and patches couldn’t just lie flat on the table. Instead we posed them in the same vertical positions as coffee cups. We will repeat this approach when new items are added in the next few months so that they will still family with the first photos. Moreover, the files were delivered with transparent layers. This will allow Sightglass to use the images on white as well as off-white backgrounds.
Now go buy something at Sightglass.com.
This was a personal project I worked on back in 1992. I don’t normally show old work but I still found this interesting. This adventure took place when Chuck Taylor All Stars were still made in the USA and photos were still taken with film.
It was interesting going back and digitizing the film. It made me really appreciate how much control you get with a RAW digital file. It crazy to have taken all these photos on the trip without seeing a preview. I had to wait until I got back to see if the photos even worked out. So old school.