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Apple Photographer Details the Creative Process Behind a Product Shoot

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The name of Peter Belanger, a San Francisco-based product photographer, may not sound familiar, but if you read this blog, you certainly own or have held one of his subjects. You’re right! I’m referring to Apple products. Belanger is the lucky guy who was picked by Apple to shoot the products we consumers only see after the official launch.

When I was starting out I freelanced for agencies that had Apple accounts. Over the years the agencies evolved and many of the designers and producers moved internally at Apple. Because I had a working relationship with lots of them, they kept using me. I feel very lucky that this relationship continued, Belanger says.

He also has several high-profile clients in his portfolio alongside Apple, such as Adidas, eBay, Adobe, Sony, Hewlett-Packard and others.

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Apple is renowned for its push for simplicity and the images they use in their product marketing compliments this ideal. But how are these images created? To obtain the answer, The Verge has gone directly to the source and interviewed Belanger. Here is what he says about the creative process behind an Apple product shoot:

The team at Apple always has a really well developed shot list and sketches of what they need. I work with their talented art directors to translate those sketches into photos. We start by getting the position of the product and then move forward on lighting. Because Apple products have such carefully selected materials it is incredibly important to light the product in a way that will showcase the various materials accurately. I pick an area to start with and think about how that material needs to be described. Once that section is done I move on to the next. This is how my sets get so complicated! I need to have control over each and every surface so when the client asks for a highlight to be elongated, I can do that. It’s similar to working on a file in Photoshop: you don’t do all your work on one layer. I think of my lights as layers that I can adjust individually to get the desired results.

One component in creating the illusion of simplicity is having the proper gear. -. Belanger currently uses a Phase One digital back with a Sinar X view camera with a Phase One 645 camera system for outside the studio, and for handheld work he opted for a Canon 5D Mark III.

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