Andrea Belluso is an experienced photographer with more than three decades in the business. Every now and then, Andrea takes us behind the scenes of a recent shoot to share some of the knowledge he has gained over the years. This time he gets out of the comfort zone and shoots something he’s never done before. Here’s his story about it.
Something strange happened. I was asked to do something I have never done before: shooting kitchen appliances and wash machines. This is also something that is extremely specialized in terms of lighting because of all the highly reflective surfaces involved.
The client was Electrolux and the brief made me feel a bit more at home since it was involving lifestyle with some models. The project was to promote their range of compact kitchen appliances. The images will feature in a trend report and on social media channels to highlight global urbanization and how this impacts sustainability and the effect on the size of our living spaces. This means that it is also a subject matter that I found interesting.
The creative director had seen my previous work with Cadillac and liked how I had lit the shiny surfaces. He felt I was the man for the job since he knows how I work with light. It was very important for him that the ground work was perfect in terms of lighting, especially since there is a fair amount of post-production in this type of work that involves composing of different parts of a single image. This is equivalent to what once used to be made with multiple exposures when shooting still life, in the era of analogue film.
I gladly accepted the challenge, albeit with some butterflies in my stomach because of the unknown factors, but extremely excited because I was about to start playing with light at another level, one with many obstacles to be crossed.
The first challenge with this shoot was that I had to lit certain parts of the images with precision and with very narrow light spread. That meant that these parts where best lit by hand on separate exposures. This is when the new and wonderful Profoto B2 came in extremely handy. I could just point the B2 Head to the object that I wanted to lit and because of the small size and light weight, I could hold it in my hand and get the light exactly where I wanted it and with the correct intensity.
The second challenge was that I needed to shed some light inside the drum of the washing machine and inside an oven. I asked myself, how will I solve this challenge? I came up with a great solution! I could simply place the B2 generator with the B2 head inside the oven and in the washing machine! That gave me the exact light that I needed. You should have seen the client’s face when he saw me place the whole lighting system inside an oven!
Then I was just wondering one thing, being ignorant of how the experts of this type of photography solve this type of problems, how was it done before the B2?
In order to light the front of the washing machine I used the B2 equipped with an OCF 2′ Octa Softbox with soft grids. This gave me a very nice and soft light with the right amount of focus and contrast. I also used it with a grid to create the right mood in the shot with the chocolate being melted on the stove.
For this photo shoot, I also needed to lit very large areas and I needed a really soft light. In order to do this, I used some very large softboxes from the RFi series, like the RFi 4×6, the RFi 5’ Octa and the RFi 3×4. It was really fun mixing freely between Pro-8A with B2.
This time I really felt that doing my homework before the shoot was of course necessary, but that the final light set-up changed quite a lot on certain shots once on location. Highly reflective surfaces are very tricky and until you are there, with your camera and start shooting, there are so many small details, reflections and even black spots that start showing and that have to be dealt with lighting.
To sum it all up. I took the job as a challenge and it proved to be very exciting. It was a totally different way of working from what I am used to, not exactly the fast pace of fashion photography, but really great fun if painting with light is your thing.
The client was very happy and so was I, and I never thought I would actually say that I am really looking forward to shooting shiny surfaces again soon!
The results will be printed and online soon but the main campaign begins this Autumn when the report is officially launched at the IFA show in Berlin.