CHALLENGING THE RECTANGLE!
When I received the "Harry Potter" themed party decor set created by Give ‘Em Props Studios, LLC to photograph, it consisted of five vials of potions, seven wizardry books, one owl perched on a log, and one spider, all of which could be independently arranged. My challenge was to photograph the set on white seamless paper and create a series of interesting product shots that would fit a variety of different layout options.
My first composition was a landscape arrangement with a height-to-width ratio of 2:3, the aspect ratio of 35mm film and most DSLR cameras today. It took a lot of experimentation to perfect; but, fortunately, I love puzzles and had fun exploring the different possibilities.
My goal was an overall composition that flowed and that also showed off each individual piece well. (The same considerations apply to arranging a group of people to be photographed!) After the overall composition had been roughed in, I experimented with different lighting arrangements. And, once both the "pose" and the lighting started working well together, the game of tweaking began: Find some aspect of the arrangement or lighting that felt "off" and try to fix it.
It's amazing how tiny adjustments -- just fractions of an inch! -- can make a big difference in the feel and flow of the composition. (In portraiture, slight differences in gesture or expression play the same role!)
Here's that first arrangement, which fills the 2:3 frame. I love the gentle triangular composition with the owl at the triangle's peak. It feels balanced and flows beautifully. Each piece looks good and plays a strong supporting role in the overall composition.
In this next arrangement, I compose more tightly to fit a 4:5 aspect ratio (typical of the ubiquitous 8x10 print). The triangular composition now has a narrower base, so a more acute angle at the top. Once again, each individual piece displays nicely and helps the composition flow from left to right.
In this arrangement, I fit everything into a square format (1:1 aspect ratio). The composition is now a boxy triangle. Each piece is again positioned effectively.
Finally, I squeeze the base of the composition even more to move from a landscape orientation to a portrait orientation. This composition is an acute triangle, presented in a photograph having the camera's natural 3:2 aspect ratio. If need be, the photograph could be cropped top and bottom to fit a 5:4 aspect ratio.
In order to avoid getting lost in the dense mix of books and vials, the spider runs loose at the base of the triangle. (Creepy!)
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My photography studio is conveniently located in Ashburn, Virginia, between Dulles International Airport and Leesburg, just north of the Brambleton shopping center.
Let's see what we can arrange together!