I Took These Photos In My Dining Room

Product photography is something that I've always been interested in, but never saw myself making a career out of. However... when I do get to take product photos, I do enjoy it quite a lot!

I thought I might make a quick post on some techniques I used to make these photographs, all taken on my dining room table with simple lighting equipment:

My dad making a great assistant!

To break down my equipment:

Camera: 5D Mark III
Lens: 85mm 1.2L @ f/16
Light: 600EX-RT

Additional equipment = 3 old pieces of cardboard from high school prom askings.

Breaking down the shots that I took:

- Label shot
- Side reflection shot (duplicated on either side to make symmetrical)
- Cap/lid
- Liquid shot (lighting up the inside of the bottle for a glow)

I took those 4 shots, blended them in Photoshop, and added a subtle reflection.

These pictures will explain it better:

The wine bottle was placed on the two black pieces of cardboard to avoid additional reflections coming onto the bottle. Then, the white bounce board was used to light certain areas of the bottle. It was all about experimentation. I tethered the camera to my MacBook so I could see the images coming in on a larger screen. This is very important, because you want to be sure the details are exactly how you want. For example, making sure that the label is directly center on the bottle, or that there are no fingerprints on the bottle. This takes a LOT of work off of post-production, and saves you from re-shooting.

In Photoshop, a lot of masking was involved. First, I cut out the bottle with the pen tool, and made a masked folder. Then, I put the other photos in that folder, and started building my bottle. For the reflections, it may be useful to use the "screen" blending mode. If you aren't familiar with blending modes, I recommend checking out a YouTube video on it.

Finishing it off, I added a reflection with a slight blur with gradient mask, and sharpened it a touch.

Overall it was a VERY fun process, and I'd love to answer additional questions. Happy shooting!

Professional inquiries: thejoshuachang@gmail.com

Tips On Working With a Child Actor

Let's face it. Once in a filmmaker's lifetime, he or she will most definitely work with a kid. If you know what you're doing, you'll have a performance that makes the audience go "aww!"

However, many things can go wrong when working with a kid. This past week, I had the experience of directing a Christmas commercial for work. Our concept included working with a 5-yr old, which pushes the edge of whether a kid can successfully take direction or not. Thankfully, it was only a 30-second spot. For this spot, production took 4 hours.

Venture Christmas Commercial (2017)

Venture Christmas Commercial (2017)

INCENTIVES

Yes. Kids fuel on incentives. Find out what the kid likes, and come prepared to the shoot with things to keep the child engaged. Be careful on using this too much, because the kid will start to get over it. Give subtle reminders for them to work towards a goal. For example, food, gifts, or a quick 10 minute break. Also make sure the parents are OK with this.

GET CREATIVE

In one shot, we had to get the kid running down the stairs towards the Christmas tree. Instead of telling the kid exactly what to do, make sure you get him involved and make him feel like he is part of the team. In my case, I asked the kid if he knew how to count to 4. Then, I made him go onto the fourth step of the stairs, counting as he went. Once there, I gave him some direction, and asked him to count down from 3 and say "ACTION".

This worked for us because he felt like he was in control, and that he was helping direct the commercial.

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 6.06.07 PM.jpg

PLAN AHEAD

With any kid, you are not going to be able to get a lot of takes. Repetition is not something kids enjoy, and generally speaking, after around 5 takes the kid will be tired of it. You need to plan your shot ahead, and practice your movements, focus, etc. After 3 or 4 takes, the performance of the kid will suffer.

LET THE KID BE A FILMMAKER TOO

Kids LOVE cameras. Try to relate to them and ask them about their favorite movies or TV shows. Flip the monitor around once in a while so the kid can see themselves on the screen. Or... maybe let them clap the slate or yell "CAMERA" or pull the focus once in a while. You never know what will excite a child.

THAT'S IT!

I hope you found this helpful. Enjoy these screenshots of the commercial. Check back some time to see the full commercial.

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 6.06.25 PM.jpg

Photographing Arram, CEO of Zerocater: $100M and Growing

Meet Arram Sabeti: CEO of Zerocater, a company that caters meals from top local restaurants to businesses in SF, LA, NYC, Chicago, DC, and Austin (currently). I got to photograph him!

(Arram and I were introduced through Tiffany Zhong, a young retired VC in the Bay Area currently starting her own Gen-Z consulting business.)

This post is more of me wanting to share the photos from the shoot. So, here they are:

Sunflower Season! One lens, one light, one reflector.

Overview:

On Sunday, I planned two looks with Tiffany and we shot the next day. All photos were done with one lens, one speedlite, and one reflector.

Challenge:

For most of my photography career, I shot in a studio, where light was easily controllable. I owned a speedlite, but never used it outdoors... let alone in broad daylight. My mindset was: "I won't be able to achieve the look that I want because this speedlite is underpowered, and I need Profoto B1's to do that kind of thing."

Granted, I had been thinking about getting Profoto B1's for the longest time, and I kept putting off shoots because of that very reason.

For this shoot, I challenged myself to use what I had and see what I could come up with. See the results and let me know what you think!

Takeaway:

Photography is about using what you have to its fullest potential. It is rarely about the equipment...

"Sierra" the 2012 Subaru Outback

The love I have for my car doesn't go unnoticed. I've spent the past year with my 2012 Subaru Outback and have grown close to the car and the brand. From initial impressions, the car had stiff handling. It was different from all other cars I have driven. However, I felt in control for the first time. A year later, I couldn't imagine myself driving another car. The reliability of Subaru cars is unrivaled. Here are some of the memories I've captured with my Outback.

To kick it off, I drove across the country, and captured it all in this video:


IN SUMMARY, I hope that this post convinces someone out there to invest in a Subaru for their next car. They are terrific vehicles, and handle well in all terrains. I can't wait for my next adventure!

SUBARU, if you are reading this, I would be tremendously honored to work with you in future productions. I also see these pieces of content as valuable social posts – please reach out if you have any ideas on using my video, or the images here.

USA Road Trip 2017

I took a 12-day road trip with my friends after graduation, and needless to say, it was an amazing trip. We passed through 15 states, and drove a total of 6,296 miles. Now, I'm back in California searching for jobs that allow me to keep on creating content. The future is exciting yet mysterious, but I know that I will always be making content wherever I end up!

5 Things to do when hiring a photographer

WHY ARE PHOTOS CRUCIAL?

  • Visual content helps you gain the trust of your customers (or audience)
  • Nobody likes reading long text! Photos help people visualize your services -- let the photos do the talking!
  • Photos help to establish your brand

I'm Josh, a professional photographer who has dealt with tons of clients from different fields, and on multiple scales of production. Here are 5 things to look for when choosing your photographer.

© Joshua Chang

© Joshua Chang

1. Find their website

This is a given – find their portfolio. Look for consistency in the quality of the work displayed. If there is a specific photo that you like, make sure to save or screenshot the photo to refer to it later when describing what you're looking for.

2. INSTAGRAM

Find your photographer's Instagram. Here's why:

  • Shows you more of their work
  • Gives you a sense of their overall quality
  • As opposed to their website, Instagram offers insight on work that ISN'T as heavily curated. Aka, you can figure out if the rest of their work is as good as the website seems.

On top of that, look for clues on their professionalism and personality.

3. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT

When contacting your potential photographer, let them know:

  • What the photos you want are for (e.g. LinkedIn)
  • Your goals for the photo shoot (e.g. to show company culture)
  • What kind of photos you like -- send them sample photos and attach it in your email

For example:

"I am looking for a few retouched studio headshots for LinkedIn. I really liked this image (insert image), and a few others I found on the web. Do you have other examples you have done in the past? What is your pricing structure and turnaround time?"

or

"We are looking for a photographer to do a few environmental portraits of our employees, both posed and candid. We really like this website's employee page (insert website), and want something similar. We are trying to communicate that we are an approachable, friendly company. How do you charge your services, and how many photos will we receive? We will need the photos by ____."
© Joshua Chang

© Joshua Chang

4. Negotiating $

"Photography is a powerful tool, and if done correctly, can completely change your brand, or how people perceive you."

Photography services are valuable... although, sometimes there may be a price that is too steep for your budget.

As a photographer, I am ALWAYS willing to sacrifice a few bucks to do business with you and to have your connections. For me, it is important to get my name out there. Therefore, I am always wiling to negotiate on price (to a certain extent).

That being said, if the photographer's price is completely out of your range, or what you were expecting, it may be a smart decision to move on to the next candidate.

5. Phone call!

It never hurts to schedule a 5 minute call with the photographer. Not only do you get to hear the way he treats his clients, it is much easier for you if you have questions. If you are uncertain about certain aspects in the photography industry, there's no better place to ask than an actual photographer.


Joshua Chang

Joshua Chang

About me:

I am amazed by where my camera takes me – anywhere from a court-side basketball seat, all the way to India to help film a documentary. My camera motivates me to take beautiful portraits, and allow others to see themselves in a different light.

Check out my portfolio while you're here!

Ghost Town in Utah!

We departed Grand Junction [CO] this morning and set off for Arches National Park [UT]. On the way there we stopped by Cisco, an abandoned ghost town [shoutout to Andrew Yang for the recommendation].