Architectural Photography for a Watch Store

Written by Robert Lowdon

Robert Lowdon is an internationally published commercial photographer based out of Toronto, Canada. He spends his time photographing architecture and industrial projects for the most part.

Published August 31, 2020

Commercial architecture of a watch store.

I really enjoy architectural photography in these types of retail spaces, as I get to flex my creative vision. They are technically difficult environments to really make shine and I like a good challenge.

With the punches of color, sophisticated displays, and sharp décor, I wanted the images to highlight a bright and exciting space, just like the designer intended. Many individuals are involved in the design of retail stores, they are major investments for the company. It is my job as an architectural photographer to make them look amazing. It is a big responsibility that I do not take lightly.

Jewelry stores typically have a lot of reflections that can play havoc on any photographer. When shooting, I am always very mindful of reflections and the various surfaces they come from. These reflections could come from a mirror, a display case, or a window and can absolutely ruin an otherwise great shot. Also, no one wants a photograph of this guy (me) in the middle of a mirror in their store, yet I digress. (That was my attempt at humor!)

For this shoot, I am lighting the space with several strobes (flash units) to even out lighting. I also like the way providing my own lighting produces crisp details. The lighting ensures accurate colour rendition, provided I am balancing the colors of the store lights with my own. I use large umbrellas to diffuse the lights, to produce a flattering soft light. Positioning the lights at certain angles allows me to use directional lighting that gives contrast.

When shooting, I will stack several shots, moving lighting to highlight the specific areas as needed. As important as lighting is, controlling unwanted lighting and reflections is just as important. I will use flags and quite simply black fabric to block lighting and reflections. Mall retail stores are notorious for reflections. It is not uncommon to have numerous near by stores signs reflecting on your displays, mirrors, product, and any other surface that is remotely reflective. My assistant, and myself will move around materials blocking various reflections. The last thing any client wants is their competitor’s logo to show up in their photos. It is really quite interesting to be able to use all the tools you would use in a photo studio, on site to light a location.

On camera, it is almost essential to use architectural lenses to shoot these spaces. High end lenses do matter in certain circumstances and this is one of them.

The shoot was completed in the Fall. Following all Covid 19 protocols.

These images will be used in print, on website and various other marketing purposes. Great store images really help to get customers into a store.

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