The making of Still Life Photography in Advertising. Lighting Setup. Special Effects by Ilya Plotnikov, Maxim Plotnikov and Alexandra Leroy

Overview• ProcessVideo

First approach

Receiving the edited text of the book and fifty advertising photos with detailed descriptions of each scene. Sketching a mock-up. The idea: advertising photographs often make it to glossy magazines, what if we design the book as a magazine?

No, it doesn’t work, a book is not a magazine. The book speaks about photography as a process. Going to Moskva store to flip through books on photography. Meanwhile, the chief typesetter puts together a mock-up, builds the typesetting mirror, calculates the grid, sets simple yet effective layout principles, comes up with half-titles and the insert with technical parameters of each shot.

Typesetting several openings as an example and showing to the art director. He approves. Starting to typeset the entire book.

Right now the result looks a bit boring, but we continue to typeset, checking with the chief typesetter and marking dubious pages for the editor.

Finally, the block is typeset all the way from the title page to the colophon. Showing the result to the chief typesetter and the art director. Both are displeased, the result doesn’t look cool. The pictures are small, there is a lot of noise. Everything has to be redone from scratch.

We need to change the hand. Giving the project to another typesetter.


Second approach

Starting with a blank slate. It’s probably best not to include full names of the photographs but simply reference them by numbers. We want to make the photos larger, but also keep them in full frame.

After spending some time typesetting, we come to realize that rendered images distract the reader and compete with photographs for the reader’s attention. They pretend to be photorealistic but don’t quite appear that way which makes real photographs also look “second-grade.” Discussing the problem with the art director, he suggests to use a simpler, more artificial render style. Asking the authors’ permission, they don’t mind.

Sending for visualization.

Continuing the typesetting.

The visualizer suggests to remove backgrounds, they didn’t work.

Making the table of contents more interesting.

The entire book is ready.

Cover and endpaper

Idea: to make the endpaper fun and cartoonish, like the liner of an expensive classic suit. Since the purpose of advertising photography is to make people desire the object, how about we use a pattern of coveting mouths?

As for the cover, we can show the same apple from different angles. Eight poorly photographed ones and a cool one that a hand tries to grab.

Or different light bulbs and one beautiful pear that you want to eat.

Or a totally different story: Eve gives Adam an apple that is professionally lit from the bushes with the tempting snake holding a reflector.

Or a collage of beer pouring into a jar of cream covered with dew set on top of silk folds, etc. Haze on the left, snow on top, use all the best effects at the same time. Or take some plain object such as a kettlebell and take its photograph using all possible tricks: dew, smoke, light, falling rose petals, etc.

The art director chooses the matrix of apples, but tells to put the proper apple asymmetrically into the middle column to make sure the hand reaches for it from afar, going over other apples.

Receiving the sketch of the dust jacket.

Photographing. The hand doesn’t come out too well.

The art director suggests to add a leaf, photograph a female hand and replace the bottom row of apples.

Polishing all the details, sending the result to the editor and the proofreader for one final look. Preparing for printing.

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