I was recently commissioned by Corporate Initiatives Australia for commercial photography.
This was to document the large, multi-panel display they installed at QLD Rail, Brisbane.
These guys do all sorts of amazing audio and video installations on a very large scale. It’s highly technical and specialised work
This sort of work is something I do a lot of. It’s about building up an image library for clients so they have visual resources to tell their story. In this case it was a big project to help QLD Rail monitor their different locations.
My commercial photography clients will often engage me to document finished projects like this.
It provides a great record of whats been achieved, plus the photos can then be used for marketing and promotional purposes.
The key thing about this job was to highlight the screen and to also place it in context. I used a variety of lenses to do this. You can see the wide angle ones lend a great perspective and really place the people in the shot. The problem with wide angle is that anything in the background (like a large LCD screen for example) appears smaller in the image compared to foreground objects. See these examples:
You can see in those two examples, there is a lot of context, but the screen doesn’t look as large as it actually is.
Something a wide angle lens is also great for is funky angles and interesting viewpoints.
I wasn’t using a super wide lens, 24mm at most, but you can see here I got up nice and close and was able to get a great angle on the screen.
In a commercial photography job like this, it’s very important to show proper perspectives, but throwing in a wide angle funky shot mixes it up nicely for the client.
Here it is showing a much more correct perspective.
I consider these the safety shots, covering the brief, whereas the funky wide ones are bonus images for the client:
Of course this job was also about showing how large this screen is.
Wide angles won’t do that very well. The best way to do this is with longer lenses. They compress the scene and can really show the screen size. This is almost counter-intuitive but you can see what I mean in these examples:
Another way to emphasis the screen size is to show it in comparison to something much smaller, for example people. In this next shot I only show the bottom half of the screen which really emphasises size because your mind “fills the gaps” and extrapolates the actual size outside of the frame of the photo. In this case it’s what’s not shown that helps emphasise the scale.
When shooting a commercial photography project like this, I’m thinking “wide for overall, and tight for details”.
The detail shots are super important and often visually very interesting. In this case, touchscreens are used to operate the large display. It was important to show this from a variety of angles. You can see they are focused on the touchscreen, but the large display is there in the background lending context to the image. These three examples also show how the lens choice affects the perspective the photo.
Commercial photography is my specialty for a number of reasons.
It’s incredibly varied and interesting work. You meet all sorts or people and see all sorts of interesting projects. That plus I’m right there in the middle of it all, with a court-side seat to the action.
I also love the corporate work here in Brisbane because it allows me to build relationships with my clients the are long term and productive. If I do a great job, I’ll most likely be called next time they need some photography. From the clients point of view, I can be someone they trust to get the job done. Trust like this in business is the foundation upon with success is built.
As a finishing point, note that most of these are lit subtly with a single speedlight and softbox just out of frame. This gives a little kick and fill where needed. The large screen was quite bright, so I exposed for that and then filled in a little with my flash. When editing in Lightroom, I knocked back the highlights (screen) and brought up the shadows to give a more balanced finished image. I use speedlights extensively on shoots like this because they add a little extra special sauce, plus they are light weight and easy to maneuver on a shoot.
I hope this gave a good insight into commercial photography and how I approach a typical job.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions in the comments section below.