Last year, we partnered with Format on a contest based on what creative people keep "on hand" - their toolkit. The winning photo was a gravity-defying shot by California-based photographer Alex Kapustin; and a few months later we were surprised when he gave his new ONA Prince Street bag the same treatment (pictured above). The image has been a staff and community favorite, and we asked Alex to share the full story behind the image and more about his creative process.
I love working with a variety of products that when captured tell a story within an image. I started a series called Gravity which focuses on products in motion. The idea is to capture an enticing image that showcases objects in flight, where they are simultaneously interconnected, to tell a story.
Within every image each object has an important role to play. The way it's positioned and lit is imperative to sustain the connection with other objects within the image. The overall intention is to produce an image that is believed to have been captured all at once. This is done by preserving the shadows of each object and capturing it in a real life environment.
This project features the Prince Street messenger bag in black waxed canvas, our collaboration with 100 Cameras
For this project, I decided to showcase my everyday carry essentials featuring the ONA bag as the primary object within the image. Every Gravity project begins with a basic sketch to illustrate the visual hierarchy where each product will live within the image. To expedite the process of the sketch, I photograph a variety of angles for each product with my iPhone. This lays the basic foundation for me to make quick composition in Photoshop before I finalize the initial sketch.
The next stage is where pre-production begins. I start by gathering all of the necessary equipment to support the levitation of each object. Some of the common equipment I use are Matthew mini grips and fishing lines. At times I just toss objects in mid-air to capture organic movement.
When it comes to capturing Gravity projects, they are photographed within a square format purposely for use and distribution within Instagram. I begin each project by framing my canvas on a wall. Typically, I do this by painting a large square that matches the dimensions of my viewfinder for my camera. The next step is staging the largest object within the frame. In this case, it was the table and ONA bag. Those objects will never move within the frame until the entire project is complete. It's my reference point, where I begin to place all other floating object around.
As I capture each product, I am simultaneously compositing a rough layout in Photoshop to see if the composition works well together. After the photoshoot, the rough composition is used as a guide to build a clean and polished image during post production. Each image then is carefully masked, retouched, and placed in its designated spot, making sure that blending of the shadows into the wall is precise and accurate.
A lot of times it is all about problem solving. How to suspend each object, or to improve the visual impact over all throughout the entire image. It can be very time consuming, especially when it comes to staging each object and doing rough compositions on the go. With this style of product photography, there is always a learning curve.
Visit Alex's website to learn more about Alex's work and see a time-lapse of how he created the composition in Photoshop.
(3) ONA BAG - RESULT Here it is, a quick photo shoot containing the prizes I won from last year’s #myonhand contest: ONA Bag - Prince Street Messenger - 100 Cameras Collab. Fuji X100 T Field Notes - 12 months subscription Tele & Wide Moment Lens Lifetime membership to Format.com The rest of the gear is part of my everyday carry on! Thank you ONA & Format for hosting such a creative contest! Visit: www.alexkapustin.com :: Gravity :: to see the process in making this photo. #myonhand #inMyONA #useformat #Hasselblad #Masterdynamic #momentlens #fujix100t #onabags #fieldnotes #famousBTSmag #camerabag #inmybag #iso1200 #sandisk #shotkit #mycamerabag #photoequipment #messengerbag #hasselbladfeatures #gravityproduct