Skip to main content

General Q&A

Lesson 13 from: Tabletop Product Photography

Don Giannatti

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

13. General Q&A

Next Lesson: Shoot: Wine Bottles

Lesson Info

General Q&A

a question from uh lucy ann is can you explain what is reciprocity in filled days once you've reached a certain length of exposure the film changed so you could get a meter reading for instance of thirty seconds with your film would be would come did you ever shoot film yesterday remember that little white piece of paper that came in every roll of film that we all just threw away was full of great information like the fact that a thirty second exposure really wasn't thirty seconds at that point it was sixty seconds what e that a sixty second exposure really wasn't sixty seconds it was one hundred twenty seconds because after you got to a certain amount of time that the film was exposed to the light the rating started changing usually dropping needing more like so if you're you know you say well my meter says five minute exposure you know what those at that point you're really closer to twelve and thirteen minutes exposure so that's reciprocity in digital what would happen is that at ce...

rtain long exposures like five and ten seconds you'd start to get digital noise that was just exposed to the light for so long start getting noise a lot of the night shooters would go out at night and shoot and then end up with this kind of a patina to their images these days it's a pretty much a thing of the past and always built into the esso potion so if you have cameras that are shooting I s o twenty four hundred you can certainly get longer exposures as faras arrest of reciprocity for the long exposures with digital I'll have to plead ignorance I don't know if there's a time change or not does anyone know that in the camera so my camera if I'm shooting a long exposure um it will not let me take another picture for the least at the length of time that's on auto well noise reduction turned on but that section is turned on it does another image without shutter closed no no I'm talking about just purely manual exposure I don't think there's a difference in all we've ever talked about his digital noise okay photo dialled state pretty constant based on supply henrickson is wondering if you ever use colored gels for any of your table top set ups that's a great question because I'm in the middle of transitioning from the answer would have been never to the answer being pretty much all the time I'm now using very very subtle gels very subtle warm gels a very light bronze light uh sitios tto add some warmth to my book my new still life product book is not on line yet when it comes online everything that I have in my book now goes away because I've been working really hard for last uh six or eight weeks on this new book and I expect to have it out you know september first kind of a whole new portfolio for a lot of my work kind of changing up so yes and I've got I'm doing that for a very specific reason and that is most other tigers don't and I kind of like the look it's giving my work kind of its own look I rarely shoot gels outside or what I'm doing speed light work on now I'm kind of changing up where I'm shooting gels a lot outside without I don't want it that jell o look the blue building with the orange guy that's not me that's not me so but yes gels are great cool well maybe one or two more questions before we got a lunch sure all right a question from sam cox don do you document your product lighting set up so that you could easily we create if and when you're asked to reshoot so say really was got this down right here you bet I do especially working for a client because you may have to come and do that shot again way love what you did with the black watch could you do that with the red watch uh invited remember I shoot everything documented and I even measure it with my tape measure for this shot I will measure the grid what grid was on it with a power up of it wass for some some people sell that's too much work compared to setting it up again wanna bet is two minutes of work and a couple of shots I used by the way is my iphone for that I don't shoot it on the big camera I use my phone and just send him right up to my dropbox so they're they're so every client file that I have and I'm quite a few personal project files I have I've got in that file I've got this little note file that's got some iphone shots measurements what I did and how I achieved to remember all that little card was block that off I do that and I think that it's one of the best things you can do to learn what you're doing sometimes we do things and we discover things and if we don't codify it you know sort of write it down remember it then it just goes away when we walk away so speaking of film that made me think about remember when we used to turn the the paper over and write in pencil what your exposure was so that you could remember it I have so I still have my old very first kodak the kodak exposure record where you will write down what frame it wass and explain is still having his all pencil and it's all faded and everything but I kept because it's kind of fun I learned photography that way right I was got popped photo remember pop photo do they sell pop photo but they would put photographs in there there'd be a photograph of a model lake right and then below what it would say nikon f twenty four millimeter lens kodachrome twenty five f eleven and I never knew what that meant that was right what does that mean so if you go out with an icon and a thirty five and shoot kodachrome att f eleven you're gonna get that shot yeah if you kind of happen on the same shutter speed he used but you haven't relating it to get a date a time a day maybe point of view where he waas is all just useless stuff but I used to like just write all that stuff down what right down now is distances powers and and my thought pattern because sometimes I can rebuild it out of thoughts what you got another question about lighting from tinker s realm is wondering with the continuous light do you go for fluorescence led or tungsten okay I currently own hot lights tungsten lights that's got a lot of money invested in hot lights I will eventually move those two ladies uh those big fluorescent lights that you can get well you know I build those I'm there's no reason for me to go by him I could take a sheet of plywood painted bright white put a couple edges on some cheap things at the top the bulbs you get the daylight balls you get good day same bulbs anyone else uses so I built one I use it for a while and I don't use it very much anymore so I'll try to go toe leads now that assholes they're so high ladies make tremendous sense plus we're all doing video out right there all adding motion to our portfolio in the ladies make a lot of sense so if I was doing this at at home for my portfolio you know what else I would be doing I'll be doing some motion so that's really cool and I want to do a crawl around on the on the keys for a little slow fifteen seconds emotion around on the keys to add that to the motion of practicing practicing practicing which means you spend a whole ton of money for strokes and then you end up using the model so uh lately I've been doing a lot with modeling lights specifically for the reason that I need to go in and shoot the emotion so that that answers a question from pepe and moved by earlier which was what these lighting techniques work in video as well absolutely absolutely yes and that's something to keep in mind as you're building that stuff is that you must do it so it works in video because that's that's changing you guys got some people coming next week right talk about um how it's being mixed into wedding and and see your portrait's and stuff so it's coming now does that mean by the way that I think everything still photographer um one day needs to direct a feature length film no god no I can't I don't see movies I don't see movies in my head but I can see little motion things I can see that I can see still photography has applied to video want to see a great example watch a great robert duvall movie called tender mercies thes cinematographer was a still photographer that's all I'll say go watch it you'll send me an email going no kidding but these air still shots with people moving in and it's really amazing great film what's robert duvall I mean how can it not be a good movie waken you siskel and ebert by away laurie and I were discussing movies so what'd you think of the avengers I'm seeing like mystery science theater way ah question from rough draft from california what is the hardest part or the more challenging part of your job in your opinion you see teo every element of the o grab a snack and challenging part of business is the business itself staying motivated in a world of naysayers on my right just no shortage of people to tell you how crappy it is out there how the world's going to hell in a hand basket you know thankyou thankyou good moving on um I'll deal with the hell going are going to hell in a handbasket later after work and I'll work real hard to do what I can for my part but during the day I'm concentrating on this and it's the concentration it's the fact that we are pulled so many different ways now we used to go to the studio make some coffee and make photographs and if there was mail in the mailbox you would open it up with a letter opener and maybe some days ago damn I got six pieces of mail now we go in and check the twitter feed on facebook friends and personal facebook page thie email list which is you know three hundred day on every other thing that pulls us away from what we were doing well say this if your time to go well I'm not gonna twitter and I'm not gonna facebook and I'm not gonna die I'm not gonna do that well good luck to you because the problem is it's it's changed you better be doing those things you have to be because your clients are but more importantly your competition is if you're not in the game you're not in the game there's there's a great book I talked about yesterday that chris jill abo but hundred dollar start up he talks about the pyramids that two pyramids is that charlotte that's the guy talks all the time doesn't do anything he's you know all talk no no showing up right then the martyr he hardly ever tells anybody what he's doing but he's doing tremendous amount of things you wouldn't be the guy over here on the left you talk a lot about all the great things you're doing to change the world that way these other two guys never change anything if you're passionate about something whether it's poverty in central asia or in africa or my my thing is the water situation in the central valley if you pop really passionate about it you go out and do thanks about you don't sit around going yeah it's really tough out there wins cheers on you know that's wasted do something you know what's the really great thing to do something with photographs remember that there was a little skirmish over there in vietnam a couple years ago what stopped it what helped stop it do you remember to black and white photographs one of a vietnamese cambodian child running down the street on fire and one of the policemen shooting a suspected bad guy in the head americans were okay with fighting for the good guys all of a sudden we're kind of like way need to rethink that photographs changed with vietnam war photographs black and white moments in time tell me this isn't a passionate fantastic incredible art form that we work with it's the most incredible because it has to do with time you could paint that guy's shooting bad guys all you want it's a painting but when you capture that one millisecond when the bullet was actually exiting the other guy's head you caught something totally unique to the world photography whether is shooting keys commercially take your time or anything else or fashion whatever take your talents out and do something else with well it's a really powerful medium I love it I always will love it and since I cannot be the conductor of the new york philharmonic also for being a photographer never never forgive that guy for not passing job on me I could have learned and how hard is it was you two you got a tux a stick that's it what e teaching workshop what kind of bataan do you use while I like a twelve millimeter since you are showing uh shooting tethered krispie elf from colin had asked do you let clients be there while you're shooting their products and then do you show them as you're shooting when my clients come to the set they get to see what I'm shooting because it's collaborative process um I have heard since the start of my career as a photographer about other photographers saying I never let my clients see my work and all I can think of is you got a really great clients because my clients would say I've brought my stuff to you and you're telling me I can't be in here for just go next door and use him he lets me come in yes they're always part of it but that being said probably not only have clients with me thirty percent of the time and it's right to have the clients with you approving it why if they like what you've done they're thrilled you're done which is means you don't charge by what the hour charges shoo fy and usage rights charge by the hour because they could drop that thing down there you bring the light over and they go what's just what I wanted you think oh I was a quick eight bucks now they get all the benefit of your expertise so yes I do that my client said but rarely do they come over I don't shoot for a lot of ad agencies we're not gonna go into why but I don't I shoot for designers and directed to client folks and they're just happy to say thank you don come get it this is kind of what we want and we go away you're shooting for ad agencies you gonna have a whole passel of people they're gonna be account exactly the art director assistant art director ma blocked so if you're shooting jewelry for tiffany's ad you're gonna have to serve lunch that's that's the way you gotta have a catering it's called a craft craft services that's how many people will show up for you to shoot the jury but if you're shooting the jury for mom and pop jewelry store down there they're actually running the store they'll come down and look like if you have a client say the mom and pop jewelry story is not very expert at photos and they're telling you to do something that you don't think is right do you try and persuade them or do you just let them that's a tough one let me answer it this way if I've got this I've got a client theywant me shoes jewelry and they want me to shoot a bad jewelry shop I have to weigh two things does anyone else we're going to see it that no I shot if the answer's yes no I won't do it in model and fashion photography when I was shoot models I want all the pictures no one gets all the pictures no one gets all the pictures not a single photograph leads my studio that I will be proud of his trust me if you let the model pick the pictures you kind of go but you're drooling in that one I know but my eyes look good you know not happening if it goes out of my studio I'll be proud for them to show it if they're gonna pay me a whole lot of money to do that bad picture for him and no one's gonna really know I shot oh yes sure you want crap here you go focus seriously I'm a commercial photographer it is not my job to go overboard except win I know it will directly affect b and my and my reputation so in that case maybe you could do it the way they want and then do it the way you want do it all the time she has about as a matter of fact I do that as a matter of course with every shoot that we do especially if the idea that they're coming over with is not as good as I know it could be I don't tell them that it's really not good for him to look at the client go well that's really lame and yet I've seen photographers do it neuf tarver's do it don't do that I'll shoot it there you go I got a perfect hey let me show you what else I think could look cool they're all over that oh wow yeah show us I'll tell you fifty sixty seventy percent of the time and walk out with the shot that I did not them and they love you for it they absolutely love you for it because you didn't give him a hard time you shot their shot and he'd just something else question from rough draft in california to live that way all aren't we all rough drafts below that uh do you show the client different options and if so how many oh wow are getting into contract things here different options usually when I go to pick up a product I have a defined set of parameters okay from issued product else I'll say what you want but we need a front aside in the top okay I could do a front side on the top and back but there's no guarantee I'm ever gonna get paid for it so if I am there on the set and it's I think that the back looks really cool I'll go ahead and shoot it sure and give it but you gotta re very careful because if you show up with six shops and they only wanted three thank you love all six that you did up until the moment you tell them they gotta pay for the other three then it's not in the contract so I do not deliver those extra shots but I wouldn't let him know that I did do some other shots and it if any time you'd like to see him we would do it and I would negotiate a rate for those shots that was less than the original because I already done but still a substantial of rate to know that they can't do my other favorite thing is when they get on set and they do this and you go click like oh I love it since the camera's already set up could we do this to andi I say absolutely let me get a change of work order for you I'm in business to make photographs if you want more I'm happy to engage that but I carry changing work order stuff and I got that not from photography but from my website business back in the day when I was building websites and I'll tell you a client would go oh that's a great website could we add a little job thing to the corner whoa um okay and then you deliver it and you're waiting to get paid and it's not done yet because they decided that I had something else we got to the point we could do anything you want changing work order you had him changing work order all of a sudden they're happy that's good we're good we're done if you've been asked to deliver a top front front do give two options that each of those different lighting just presented with one no no I may do that I might say here's you know I did if I like both options I'll give it to him but I don't just give them options for options so if I did the shot and I thought was kind of cool with this film board over here but I took it away and that was kind of a little more dramatic sure absolutely that's not a problem but they only get one that's part of the contra they only get wants lake and choose what I did and again they love you for doing that if you're not paid by the hour and you want to spend a little bit extra time to see if you got more sales so you can really turn it you could it's kind of like portrait photography you could turn a lot of sails around if you have more and more stuff you could do it but you don't guarantee and um do you uh from new york city do you have a re toucher for commercial jobs uh do most professionals outsource retouching in this world a lot of them do I do not I do all my own work that's not a value judgment or philosophical thing I just I just do my own work um a lot of of uh product retirees have digital texts in house people that worked with him on and some of them outsource it just depends on how busy you are I you know I'll confess I've never really been so busy that I needed someone else to retouch my work I hope that happens someday I don't have any reason why wouldn't send it to a digital uh person to do it but no in phoenix we're just I'm just not that busy um but in new york if you were shooting a jewelry catalog and you were shooting eight shots a day yeah you'd probably want to have somebody doing it because you want to shoot all day I didn't spend all night processing images so yeah absolutely depends on your work work love mara iraqis from sarah serbia um tell us about white balance how do you get real color out of a product uh white male c I shoot raw so everything I capture I've got I've got it all already so I use the little grey take great tag macbeth uh chart and we'll shoot that for it but mostly I'll use the great just a simple great car great car we're in the studio we haven't I didn't use it very much but it's that little box that you open up you know the only time out keeping of the brand you shoot the little box and it's got software program director color check uh colored colored checker thank you yeah we'll do that too but that's remember that really only works on the j peg preview raw file is the raw file but I'll do that so I could get my j peg previews as close as possible then when I'm working in photo shop I consent white great balance points yes I have a comment again little feel card that you were using here the whatever you're using it for thes air great like if you get a pack of t shirts and it's the insert like I say these all the time right so it's it's another do d I y free but I know yeah absolutely those old wear shirt hangars if you can find some someone absent gives it to the dry cleaners great get rid that they don't they're not for hanging clothes anymore they're actually for pending little things on and sticking them out over your set by the way say question comes about photo shop I try to do is a little photo shop work as I as I can um I want to be able teo brighton and dark and all that stuff I'm going to go through some photo shop during workshop I want to be able to do all that stuff but I don't want to shoot pictures that I don't know that I have to do a lot of photo shop on unless it's a composite image where I have to shoot multiple shots and this is kind of a tease or two we're going to show you how you could do some pretty advanced stuff with only one light almost hold up two fingers with only one life some really cool things thatyou because of photo shop we can now do you can actually go around the subject with multiple pops and assembling a photo shop I still consider it a multiple light shop just achieved it all right uh question from we gecko is can you this is I'm sorry from t f floyd in tampa could you comment on the necessity of shooting raw and full frame going back to that the necessity of shooting wrongful frame I shoot raw as a matter of course I should draw I don't shoot j peg ever um I know if you could just tell people then why um well for one thing if shoot j peg than you are stuck with a ko space that you shot and you're stuck with it you can make a very minor corrections but not that much by shoot raw I could shoot this where the pictures come out blue like I left it on daylight pictures all look blue but they're in raw so I just hit the converter and they're back to normal that's one number two is I do believe that there's more because of that color variation I get a little more sharpness in the raw file there's mohr information there for me to play with j peg is this much information raws this much information I'd rather have this much to play with then this much because it's locked me out and I'm never going to get it again with this I can go back in is a matter of fact I was saying yesterday one of things I'm doing is I'm re processing my entire portfolio even pictures that were taken for five years ago I'm re processing them back through um capture one processing and we capture one back into photoshopped cf six because I've noticed that I get a better image process through capture one back through c s six now then I got at in the day when I processed it through the canyon and into photoshopped you know I'm saying software so much better that the raw captures from four years ago I'm actually able to get more out of them now then I got out of him four years ago that's why should full frame more crop I mean bottom line is that's more pixels more crop so if you get in there and you've got the way you're shooting there's stuff in the picture on brits the eight hundred you know who cares crop to the middle and you still have a file it's the size of missouri so

Class Materials

bonus material with enrollment

Basics of Subject Centric Light.pdf
Simple Tabletop Tools.pdf
Introduction to Tabletop Photography.pdf
Product vs Still Life.pdf
Introduction to Tabletop Lighting.pdf
The Challenge of Shiny Objects.pdf
A Sensible Approach to Gear.pdf
The Business Side.pdf

Ratings and Reviews


THere are some courses in CL i think of as not covering a to z but covering -z to z. THis is one of those courses. The value proposition is over the top. The instricutor: Don Giannatti is so experienced he's a relaxed in his knowledge and practiced in cutting to the chase to provide answers to really good questions about set ups for product photos (vs. art/ still-life). The topics: complete workflow from first principles in order to understand what we're trying to achieve with table top work, Don Giannatti makes it clear that we're using light deliberately to give shape to an object. Example insight: using a white card (or black) reflector is not the same as using a silver/gold reflector. The latter create a new light source; the former shape the light that's there. Can imagine the arguments but the demo brings the points home. Or how about NOT using umbrellas for product shots. Or for "drop and pop" product shots, how to do that without umbrellas and tents "that's 50 dollars a shot right there" says Giannatti. Example tool demo: one of the joys of this course is that such an expert does most of the class using readily makable tools like scrims from shower curtains and baking paper. The specialist tools like a modifier on a flash is well within the range of an aspiring commerial table top photographer. And Meaningful Demos LIGHTING/composition what are some of the most challenging and compelling things to shoot when building a portfolio/photographic experience? Can you shoot shiny stuff - like bottles and jewlery. PHOTOSHOP making photoshop unpretencious and accessible, Giannatti presents examples of how to fix bits of a shot, as well as - and this one is worth the price of admission - how to put together a composite of a guitar product shot if you only have one limited sized light to light the whole thing. We also see where highlights can be added - and how. Some basic knowledge of Photoshop layering, masking and brushes would be good to have, but one can work back from seeing it applied into those basic skills. BUSINESS We start with light giving shape to objects as a demonstrable principle, move into how to use light structurally for bringing out something fantastic about that product - that as Giannatti points out - puts bread on someone's table, so respect. From these demos we go from light and camera to post to produce the finished image. Now what? or how have a product that needs shooting? That's the business of product photography. In these excellent sections on Business, Giannatti details the heuristics of hard graft to get gigs: where to look for contacts, frequency of approach, engaging with social media (you don't have to, he says, but effectively, it's gonna cost ya). "Doing just these few things you're already way ahead of your competition." I can believe it: they are many of them tedious, but can also well believe they are what pay off. COURSE BONUSES JUST FOR SIGNING UP - for those who subscribed to a live broadcast, all the slides were provided in advance (you can see this offer on class materials) Now that's classy. What other CL courses have done that: given something to participants who just show an interest to sign up? (It's that gift thing kevin kubota talks about in his workshop on photography business - makes one want to work with that person: pay them for the value they create, eh?) TRUST/VALUE Instructor Personality Throughout each part what's delightful is just the EXPERIENCE of this instructor. He's put together a thoughtful course from light to lighting to parts to gear to post to business. There's immediate trust: plainly this man has made a living from what he's talking about, and has addressed almost any immaginable scenario. There's a great demo towards the end of the course of working with students to take shots. The value to folks watching is to see how he helps us all think about how to problem solve (the mantra for the course) to find the shot - to use light card after lightcard to wrap the light to bring out the countours of the material. Even when he says "that's just not working" - there's not a sense of the people shooting having failed - but an opportunity to think about what's been learned - to keep working the problem. There's a whole lot of HOW in that interaction that is highly valuable. Thanks to the participants in the workshop to be so willing too to do that work. This is the kind of course you leave feeling like ok, i can do this - or at least i have the tools and some knowhow now about them to start to work these problems, to start to create value in these kinds of shots. I am already just from being here a better photographer now. Related CL Course: This course feels like a terrific complement to Andrew Scrivani's Food Photography. And no wonder: both take place in small areas and use light in similar ways. A contrast is that in editorial food photography - scrivani's domain - there's a focus on skills to work with what's there; in table top/product, one can enhane - knowing how to do that effectively/believably is where the skills - learning to see that - come in for this kind of work in partiular . If tabletop/product photography is a space you wish to explore, or you just want to be able to practice working with light in the small, and see how to bring you will be delighted with this -z to z deep dive introduction.

a Creativelive Student

By chance I stumbled accross Don Giannattis’s Website and his creativeLIVE selection of videos. I was impressed by the material presented and decided to purchase the course for adopting some of his methods and concepts of light control in table top photography. The course covers a wide field, from building your own lighting tools to guidelines for getting in the product photography business. Emphasis is put on understanding light control related to the specifics of the object, discussing the how and why of the creative process. Insistence and patience were demonstrated to be prerequisites for achieving the desired quality of the pictures. I liked to follow the course, because Don Giannattis’s makes an excellent instructor. He has a clear concept, a wonderful sense of humor, and he is very flexible when listening and responding to questions of participants. I really liked this course and recommend it to all beginners in table top photography. William

a Creativelive Student

What an amazing workshop. Don holds nothing back, taking us from start to finish in a manner that will allow anyone doing this workshop (and I mean DOING) to go out and do product photography. What's more, Don is not pushing a bunch of expensive gear as the key to making good photos - he makes it accessible to those starting out with a low budget. I could feel Don's good-will toward beginning photographers in the way he conducted this workshop and that is deeply appreciated. It makes him a good teacher. I bought this course and his Lighting Essentials workshop and consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to learn from him.

Student Work