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The Anatomy of a Beauty Product Photo Shoot

By: George Carter,
Posted: February 2, 2010, from the February 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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For the second setup, Nuvisions created a “wet set” that allowed it to photograph water splashing and interacting with the products.

Shooting water is not a straightforward process. The technical and logistical aspects are extremely challenging, and the right lighting equipment is vitally important. The photographer must also select camera gear capable of freezing the motion of water with crystal clarity. Blurry images are useless to the postproduction team.

Although these shoots usually start with a well-constructed plan, it is not uncommon to deviate from the plan as the shoot progresses. It’s all part of working with and adapting to the unpredictable nature of water. This is where photographers look for those magical moments when they can capture the perfect frame of moving water. Each frame selected is used to construct a loose layout in Photoshop, assembling pieces of the puzzle. Each of the chosen frames is then constructed in Photoshop at the highest possible resolution.


In postproduction for the Murad shoot, each “dry” product shot was given a clipping path outline, and backgrounds were retouched and “vignetted” to give a smooth consistent look. The images were then retouched to eliminate any spots or prototype inconsistencies. Critical color correction was achieved by isolating color areas through alpha masks and outlines, then adjusting to match product.

The “water” group shot was completed by compositing several of the best water variations and splashes into a single image. A low-resolution comp was sent to Murad for initial approval, with several changes and edits being made at that stage. Following initial approval, the water group shot followed a similar postproduction path to completion as the dry product—with retouching, alpha masks and color isolation, and final color correction.