Joan Marie Co.

Creating Sophisticated Utility as a Culinary Photographer

How I use "Light" in a Photo Shoot

Joan Marie10 Comments

The weather in western Wisconsin was absolutely GORGEOUS today, albeit a bit windy.  With this wonderful weather came an abundance of sunshine.  In most respects, I welcome indirect sunlight as a light source when planning a photo shoot so with a bunch of garden carrots, I began...

The sunlight in the dining room is very bright for most of the day so this results in strategically moving my table to prevent excessive hotspots and glare.  

Even with a sheet or sheer curtain hung on the patio door, it still manages to sneak in exactly where I am trying to tone it down.

This typically results in a darker image that needs some Lightroom assistance.  You can see the window reflections in the jar below and this just adds to the intense sunlight behind me through the patio door...

As the sun moved higher in the sky, I found that I was constantly rearranging and moving the set-ups which was taking up more time than I had hoped.  When I simply could not control the situation any longer, I took one last shot in this room...

I still had more ideas and a nice little bunch of baby's breath that I wanted to play with so I went to my favorite spot, downstairs in the family room, with my soft box lights.

This spot has the most simple set-up and rather than try to describe it, I took a photo of the area to give you a better idea...

Yes, that is a cardboard box with the sides and top cut out.  I have found that there is no need to add tissue or sheers to the sides as each of the side lights take care of that for me.  I have played with different size soft box bulbs, stand placement, etc. and have found this to be the the most effective for the result I typically go after.  The wall behind the table has a small ledge that is perfect for my paper roll that is threaded through the box and clipped at the front.   I used the box as I like to have a "frame" in case I get the urge the hang something from fishing line (flowers) or for draping fabric. 

When it came to paper for the background, I knew I wanted white, had limited room for a roll, and had to have an easy way to clean up in between shoots.

My solution?  

Freezer Wrap!

What I love about freezer wrap is the size of roll, cost effectiveness, and the bonus of a matte plus a shiny side.  There are so many paper roll options to choose from but I have found this to work the best for my needs.  The roll sits in it's box, behind the cardboard box on the ledge and when I need a clean surface, I simply pull down and cut away.  No paper roll stand needed!

Now that I didn't have to monkey around with too much brightness as I was doing upstairs, I grabbed the baby's breath, a few vintage containers, and started snapping away.

For the first round I draped a piece of cotton fabric in the box just to try something other than white for the background...


And next, I decided to go dark with a piece of denim for background...again, just draped inside the frame of the box, right over the freezer paper....


In between swapping out backgrounds, I took a few on white (my favorite background) before wrapping up...


As a final creative surge, I snipped some curly winter bittersweet vine from the deck and tied it up with grey and white grosgrain ribbon...I am in awe how these vines manage to wrap around everything in their paths, including each other...I love the curly, wrapped up way they grow.

Sometimes I just have to find more than one "light" way to get the ideas out of my head and through my camera!

Have a wonderful week!