by Christopher Alexander
So what do you do when you don't have a backdrop for the images that you need to get done?
There will come a time in every photographer's career where, due to weather, or timing, or (unfortunately) accidents leave us without the right backdrop that we need.
Take for example the image above. I worked with Sendacake, an amazing cake company that needed some images done for their winter campaign.
Now I don't know about you, but in Northern California we don't get a lot of snow. But part of photography is the problem solving and the challenge of overcoming obstacles. It should be fun! So don't panic, just breathe and keep reading.
So what did I do? Well I'll tell you...
USING YOUR TV AS A BACKDROP
So I turned to my TV and thanks to smart TV's, I navigated to the good ol' YouTube and did a quick search for "Winter forest" and scrolled...and scrolled...and scrolled. Eventually I found one of a white forest, plain and simple, and paused the video.
Now mind you, it's probably useful to turn off your TV's auto-dim feature in the settings otherwise you will be constantly clicking and unclicking like I was in order to keep working.
Once I found the image I wanted, I composed the scene. Now the hard part...
Something similar to this is what I ended
up using, I just looked for something
with more blue sky.
LIGHTING THE SCENE FOR THE TV
The best thing to do is take a test shot and expose for the television. Get the lighting in the background to look like the sunny day, or dim night you wanted, or what have you. Get this step right! It might take a shot or two but once you do this, NOW you move on to the products.
Now is when you want to light the product in order to make it match the shot in the background. This is the hard part because sometimes you don't have the right temperature lights. I know that when I was starting photography, I had two lights. So you may have to search through the images you find a few times before finding one that matches the lights you have.
Check for glares! You might need to use reflectors or position lights accordingly to make sure you are not getting any excess light on the TV. That means look through your viewfinder so that you are at EYE LEVEL with the camera, otherwise you might not see the glares!
Just remember, the TV comes first, then light the rest of the product to match and you're golden!
EDITING IS KEY
Once you bring the photo in, a few tweaks of the contrast and color temperature will give you a lot more control over the final image and help sell the look!
While it can be frustrating at times to not get the results you want, you'll never get better if you don't keep TRYING.
Get the shots wrong, learn, and try again. I promise you, eventually you'll get a shot you're proud of and one shot leads to another and then another and eventually you're learning things that become second nature.
Just take a deep breath, remember why you do what you do, and be willing to learn and get creative!