As a product photographer, working outdoors means far less control over the elements and a greater requirement for planning, when compared to indoor photoshoots. However, taking advantage of an outdoor location can truly transform products, particularly in the world of fashion photography.
A common theme you will have noticed in many of our blog articles is lighting and how it is the most important factor affecting high-quality images. There is a concept with outdoor photography that will help you master the light and make the most of your surroundings, and this concept is ‘The Golden Hours’.
What is it?
The golden hours are the two hours, each day, that provides the perfecting lighting for fashion photography and these occur just after sunrise and just prior to sunset. Any professional product photographer will tell you that these are the moments to make the most of and get your photos taken. Perhaps the biggest benefit here is that you will have fewer shadows or trails of light, whilst being able to have more control over the lighting itself.
It may be easier said than done, getting everything done in these short hours but with effective planning and design, you can maximise the results. You may find other times offer different styles of a photo but your best work and most effective photos will be during this time.
Why not in the middle of the day?
Take a moment and think about when the sun is at its zenith near midday and you’re trying to take photos, whether on holiday or during a fashion shoot. Have you noticed people trying not to squint, or part of the photo is too dark because of shadowing? Equally, you have less control about where the light is directing.
The above description will lead to a useless shot for anyone wanting to maximise their images and it is why we fall back to the golden hour’s concept in fashion photography.
What about when it isn’t sunny?
Any product photographer based in the UK will be asking the question – what about all those miserable cloudy or rainy days? Doesn’t that ruin any chances of decent photos being taken. Our answer is not necessarily!
Even when cloudy, it is possible to take good photographs as you can still get a degree of natural light on your subject, and if all else fails, consider using a flash to add some more life to the photo. For those rainy days, you will be amazed by the quality of photos during the golden hours, adding an almost mystical effect at times. However, just remember to ensure you have everything undercover that needs to be, such as the expensive equipment.
Whether you’re an amateur product photographer or employing a professional for your brand’s fashion photography, natural light can elevate product images to new depths and really stand out from the more static images seen on eCommerce stores. So embrace this option and remember – take advantage of the golden hours and work with what you have, you can’t change the weather after all!