Product photography is an often overlooked and misunderstood genre. Perhaps because it is so pervasive we tend to disregard the ingenuity and craftsmanship required for producing high-quality images. Product photographers in Seattle have the additional challenge of operating in an environment with an average of only 140 days of natural sunlight to work with when shooting in the city. Fortunately for them, much of the artifice that goes into creating product photography happens in a studio with controlled lighting.
Historically, Seattle has been subject to the boom and bust cycles dependent on the value of commodities like lumber or gold. The last generation of Seattleites has felt their estuary city settle into an equilibrium. Now, the 9th largest metropolitan economy in the United States, Seattle is home to large corporations like Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing, as well as a cottage industry of boutique artisanal items like coffee, cheese, and outdoor products. In a generally healthy and thriving marketplace like this, product photographers in Seattle should have no shortage of opportunities.
At Wonderful Machine, we define product photography as any kind of intimate object, usually products, not covered by the other specialties in our lexicon. Product photography and still-life photography share many elements and can often be represented in the same image. They differ, however, in that the focus of product photography is on the object itself rather than the context. In the contemporary vernacular, “clean” images with interesting compositions are the predominant style. The 7 product photographers gathered here have all demonstrated their ability to capture their client’s wares in their best light.
With over 29 years of experience, Jeff Engelstad is a product photographer in Seattle who has worked in just about every context and environment. He has garnered contracts from major brands like Nordstrom, Microsoft, Amazon, and REI. Working primarily with fashion accessories, clothing, and interiors, Jeff achieves bright, clean, refreshing images. He shoots product photos both in studio settings and in use outdoors, which requires the use of both artificial and natural light. His studio work is patterned and bright, while the lifestyle images have a warm naturalistic light. Product photography requires an understanding of the best angles from which to frame a product. Jeff’s portfolio demonstrates he can capture the best angles of certain products with diverse lighting.
Carina Anne Swain Skorbecki, or C.A.S.S., is a product photographer in Seattle who is adept at shooting both in the studio and on location in outdoor settings. Her background in graphic design informs her studio work, while a love of adventure and the outdoors motivates her work in natural environments. Clean studio and interior images are well-composed with sharp lines, contrasts, and staging, while her work outdoors captures natural beauty while framing products in the setting of their intended use. She has worked with major brands, publishers, and retailers like Amazon, REI, Condé Nast, and Nordstrom.
Justin Gollmer is a product photographer in Seattle who works primarily in a studio setting. His work for major brands has produced numerous ad campaigns and product images. He makes use of detailed close-ups as well as unexpected angles and framing to present a view of products that is dynamic and engaging. Studio lighting and arrangements are integral to his photography practice and aesthetic. Justin uses diverse lighting sources and arrangements, backgrounds, perspectives, and more to create studio product photos that exemplify the “clean” look editors and brands desire.
Kortney Gloska’s product photography is primarily studio and interior-based. Her work in these environments, however, is diverse in context, style, and subject. She shoots beauty products, shoes, clothes, and jewelry in carefully staged and lit environments. The arrangements she creates are visually interesting and show products from a variety of dynamic angles. Her work outside the studio, and in home interiors, also shows her skill in creating images with natural light. The furniture and textiles she shoots demonstrate her ability to blend natural and artificial light in images that are both bright, clean, and inviting.
Darren Hendrix is a product photographer in Seattle with over 14 years of experience. He works both in-studio and on-location, utilizing controlled artificial light to produce clean images. Objects that we use every day are staples of his product imagery. Shoes, clothes, and household items are all rendered in simple and efficient images with clean lighting. His use of white backgrounds and fill lighting create sharp images that “pop” out of the frame. In addition to his work with still images, Darren also produces video, print, and other digital assets for major national and international brands.
Riley Seebeck documents life outdoors. The adventurous life in all its aspects is the primary subject matter of his production company, Flowphoto Co. Riley’s work demonstrates an intimate relationship with natural environments and an understanding of how to capture his subject with minimal alterations. As a product photographer in Seattle, his primary subject matter is well suited for the outdoorsy interests of many of the nature-loving denizens of the Pacific Northwest. Riley generally works with products outside of the studio in the context of the environment where they will be used. For this reason, his work uses primarily natural light. Even without the predictable lighting arrangements common in most product photography, his images achieve a natural adventurous aesthetic that still allows subjects to pop under that so-called clean light associated with contemporary product photography.
Brandon Hill is a conceptual and product photographer in Seattle who has developed a playful and lighthearted aesthetic. He is adept at manipulating fill lights and bounce cards just like other professional product photographers in Seattle. It is, however, his more audacious and conceptual style that distinguishes his work. Brandon’s work is an example of where the lines between product photography and other genres can become somewhat blurry. Images like his share qualities with product and lifestyle photography. He shoots products in thoughtfully composed sets and in use within daily life. Just like his regular clients Nintendo, Pokemon, and Disney, his product photos are predictably youthful and fun.
Capturing the best angles of an object is a more technically challenging and nuanced process than it appears to the untrained eye. Consistently creating high-quality product imagery requires careful planning, attention to detail, and technical expertise. The Seattle product photographers gathered in this article demonstrate their ability to frame, illuminate, and capture their subjects from the most attractive angles.