studio lighting tutorial

Lighting leather.....

I am fortunate enough to do a variety of product photography in my studio, from bottles to art the variety can be endless and often great fun. This was certainly the case with our friends from Totes who make a fantastic range of handcrafted leather bags and engaged us to help them create a variety of images for their website.

Check out the lighting setup used on a styled handbag as well as some of the action in the studio in our behind the scenes video below.

This is the kind of shoot we really enjoy, a new product and a brief that allows us to be creative within some set parameters. The brief involved photographing each item on a clean background showing the whole bag and then focusing in on some of the finer details such as the stitching, clasps and lining to showcase the quality of workmanship that goes into each bag.

As the bags are all different shapes and sizes we wanted to display some functional pictures showing an everyday use of the bag using props that you would liklely carry around in a specific bag. The props also give a sense of size and scale to each product.

Now I am told by people in the know that no self respecting woman would buy a handbag without 'seeing' how it would look on her so of course we had to oblige and have several pics of each bag being 'modelled' by our discerning volunteer.

And finally towards the end of the shoot we did a few styled shots on a grey background with some softer, more angled lighting to create a few 'grab' images that may be used in brochures and fliers.

If you have a product that you would like photographed please don't hesitate to check out our commercial showreel and gallery and don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information.


I am a big fan of chilli sauce, there are not many meals where I am not reaching for some bottle or concoction to heat up my meal, zing up the taste and generally make me sweat and smile simultaneously. This obsession has over the years prompted me to grow my own chillies, in such magnificent volumes that we had to freeze bags and bags of them so we didn't have to forcibly wade through piles of drying chillies every time we entered the kitchen.

Eventually my stoic wife's sensibilities and patient support diverged and we had a 'conversation' that ended with a moratorium on the chilli harvesting, with the annoyingly accurate observation that several kilograms of the fiery red birdseye variety would probably suffice for the next few years. So my reign as a chilli farmer came to an end just as my wife's career as the in-house chilli sauce making magician began (with no constant, insistent nagging by her husband of course).

Months of home-made chilli consuming heaven passed until one fateful dinner at a friend's house when the Doctor was suddenly and inextricably inserted into our lives. The shapely bottle, the smokey twang, the lemony zest were all too much for me that night and I ended up eating more chilli sauce than anything else (not fun the next morning). And so to my wife's eternal, and annoyingly thinly veiled, relief my obsession with home made sauce was ushered out to make way for my new mistress, Dr Trouble's Double Oak Smoked Lemon Chilli.

Made on a farm in central Zimbabwe by someone who can only be described as a genius, in my eyes anyway, the wonderful sauce is consumed in volumes in the Scott household and so was a perfect candidate on a rainy day for an impromptu studio product shoot.

There is no doubt in this day and age that colourful, engaging photography will set your product apart from the competition and, whether its studio photography or lifestyle photography showing the product in use in an everyday setting, good visuals are vital.

In this instance I used a relatively simply lighting setup to achieve several different 'looks' while still maintaining the product as the hero of the image. Variety certainty is, especially in this case, the spice of life and I strove to create different images that could easily stand on their own as visually appealing to a wide audience.

Using a solid wodden chopping board as a base to create that warm, oak feel we created a lighting setup around the product that would best enhance the shape of the bottle. On the left is a standard 50x90 softbox set on a low power to create a gentle rim light on the left hand side of the bottle.

Opposite the softbox on the right is a large gold reflector that will create an even softer gold rimlight on the right side of the bottle. A snoot with a tight grid illuminated the label on the bottle as well as the condiments just in front of the bottle. Finally a light set on low power with a reflector and gel will light up the background, we settled on a lemonish yellow as it spoke to the lemon in the product and did not fight too much with the subtle red of the chilli in the bottle.

From the above series of pictures we can see how the different lights used in the setup illuminated the product. Top left shows the softbox creating the rimlight on the edge of the bottle as well as the rimlight on the right of the bottle created by the large reflector. This showcases the shape of the bottle nicely.

Top right illustrates the use of the yellow gel on the reflector pointed at the backdrop and then bottom left shows how the snoot and tight grid illuminated the label and the condiments on the board. Bottom right is a final shot with all the studio lights firing simultaneously.

Watch more about this product lighting setup in this brief behind the scenes video;

So my love afar with chilli has resulted in a product shot that is both visually appealing and dynamic, usable in a variety of marketing environments and likely to instill the same mouth watering response in a potential customer that it does with me, always!

So how can we help you create stunning imagery that will help sell your brand or product? Contact us, we are always happy to chat and advise or visit our corporate gallery to see more examples of our photography.