In response to the increasing demand for me to share more “behind-the-scenes” of my work, I decided to take you through the journey of one of my most sophisticated photo shoots to date. This article is a little longer than I usually write but it merely gives you an idea of the amount of work that goes into a production like this one. 🙂
First and foremost, I would like to talk about the concept and inspiration behind the shoot. I remember seeing a photo by a very talented and skilled photographer with coconut halves splashing milk and the coconut product (I think it was a chocolate bar) in the middle. Unfortunately I forgot to save the photo in my Instagram and am therefore unable to credit this amazing person.
For Nespresso’s new coconut capsule, I thought of re-creating something similar to give this feeling of cool, dynamic freshness in the summer. Working with a white subject against a white background was the first challenge I had set up for myself.
I still can’t find fresh coconut in Egypt by the way (it has been over 7 months this far).. So I had to resort to my emergency coconut halves, which have been in my freezer for over two and a half years now. (Eww)
Now let’s start working! The first thing I needed to do was to decide on a satisfying composition. Once I start shooting those splashes, nothing can be moved around, or else it would be impossible to composite different shots into one image. As soon as I was happy with the layout of props, I proceeded to fixate everything with some blue tack onto my backdrop (which was just an A1 white sheet of paper). Now it was time to take the first shot with the clean scene after which I immediately prepared the latte and placed it in the scene. It was now time make some fine lighting adjustments to get the coffee to look great. The whipped cream on the top died quickly, so I just forgot about it and was planning to composite it alone on a separate layer anyway.
Moving on to the fun (and messy) part.. Just to get some facts straight about what is being portrayed in the photo; there is no natural product called coconut milk. The water you find inside a coconut is coconut water. Coconut milk is made in factories and despite it being marketed as a healthy lactose-free alternative to cows’ milk, it is actually pretty heavily processed and usually contains sugar. 🙂
In order to create the splashes, I filled the coconut halves with milk and used ice cubes to drop them from a distance into the milk. I used my phone as a clicker and did several shots until I was happy with the shapes of splashes that I created.
I also wanted to show the milk cloud in the latte (which I shot as soon as I prepared the latte in the beginning) and have some flying coconut flakes and Nespresso capsules to give the shot an extra punch of dynamism. For the capsules, I had to sacrifice one of the Nespresso Coconut capsules as I drove a bamboo skewer through its bottom. Yeah.. Sorry. This allowed me to use it like a wand and take several shots of the capsule in various locations as if it were floating in the air. Last but not least, I threw loads of coconut flakes as I tried to hit the shutter button at the right fraction of the second to freeze them over the scene in a way that looks aesthetically pleasing.
Done with shooting.. On to cleaning up the mess (which took the better part of an hour) and then right into Photoshop!
I first found myself importing 27 photos to be combined into one picture. “That was not gonna happen.”, said Photoshop. So I had to sacrifice some layers that may seem unnecessary to have in the file and ended working with just 20 layers out of which 10, I had to rasterize and lost the smart object connection. This is too technical if you are not really into Photoshop. The next thing to do was to decide which parts of which layers was I supposed to reveal and which ones to hide. A lot of masking work happened here. I also had to be very careful while selecting the objects because I didn’t want anything to have an unnatural outline around it that reveals that the layers were all composited.
As soon as I was happy with the final look and composition, I then found another disaster that I had to deal with. The white card I used as my background was not the same shade of white as my wall. You may think that’s an easy fix, but let me tell you it was NOT. With all the different layers, masks and objects in the scene, I had to make sure that I would trace around them all, in order to work on just the background and not mess up anything else in the process. Eventually I got it fixed and then I finally went on to adjust some colors and corrected all of my whites. Tadaa! 😍 One shot full of life and dynamism, done.
Don’t forget to watch the behind-the-scenes video, like and follow for more content!