Creating a commercial shoot from scratch is somewhere between business and art. On the artistic side, you want to make sure you’re proud of what you’ve created, and on the business side, you have to meet a deadline, stay on budget, and negotiate with a client.
There’s a lot to be said about handling the business side of a shoot like this, but today I want to focus on the artistic side. Specifically, I want to talk about creating a winning frame while keeping the budget in mind
About two months ago I was invited to shoot a campaign for a cosmetics brand called KEF (which translates to fun). It’s a vibrant brand with a very strong imagery that celebrates life and is always extremely colourful.
The brief states that KEF is launching a new line of shower products with unique fragrances and a new brand presenter.
The star of this campaign was Liel Eli, an Israeli influencer. Aside from being the face of the campaign, her values aligned with the brand’s values.
For reference we got an album that we turned into a mood board. Mood boards are crucial to align the team with your vision and communicate with the brand. The more detailed the better.
Set 1 – The shower
We were asked to create an image of the model in a shower with the products next to her.
I run a medium sized photo studio in Tel Aviv, but even we don’t have a full shower. Of course, there’s always an opportunity to find a location, but even once we’ve found the perfect bathroom, stuffing a crew into a standard shower isn’t trivial. So onward to create some magic. You only have to create the things that are in the frame.
So we were faced with the challenge of creating a happy, cheerful bathroom in the studio. Or rather the appearance of a bathroom. Before the shooting, we prepared a selection of high-resolution large prints of tiles. We chose the pink one and hung it from a background bar with two A-clips.
The other part of the bathroom was a white IKEA shelf that stood on two stools. This is pretty much tentative as can be, and we worked with both the brand coordinator and the talent to set the mood.
The lighting for this set was very simple – a Godox AD600 with a 7ft shade and a front and top diffuser to create a very diffused light and avoid shadow drama. A second diffuse AD600 with a 5 foot screen was placed to the rear right of the backlight mode. And lastly we added a silver reflector on the left to open up the shadows.
The only thing left was to fire the bubble gun.
Camera: Nikon Z6Lens: Nikon 105 f2.8 macro – this is my favorite portrait lens as it offers amazing subject-background separation with incredible bokeh. ISO: 160, shutter: 1/200, aperture: f/7
Set 2 – The Candy Shot
One of the new products that KEF launched is candy-scented shampoo. Since photos can’t be smelled, we agreed with the brand to photograph Liel dipped in candy.
We needed a little carpentry for that. We asked our art director to commission a foam-core frame that we could place over Liel and fill with candy. Liel was a real soldier and let us carefully pour candy over her.
When the set was complete, I climbed a ladder and took the shot. This time with a lightweight 50mm f/1.8 lens.
The lighting for this set was very similar to the previous set, an AD600 in a 7ft diffuser screen from above and a reflector to fill in the shadows.
Camera: Lens: NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 SISO: 100, Shutter speed: 1/200, Aperture: f/7
Putting together a promotional shot doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Make sure you communicate openly with the brand, assemble the best possible team and let everyone do their jobs. miracles will happen
About the author
Hadar Cohen (28) is a commercial photographer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. He runs a photography studio called 206. You can see more of his work on his website and Instagram.