Peter Belanger is a San Francisco-based photographer. You’ve never heard of him, but you’ve definitely seen his work. He’s the guy that makes Apple products look so perfect in every Apple ad, so if you’ve seen an ad for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod within the last few years, you’re probably very familiar with Peter’s work.
In a recent interview Peter talked about his creative process with commercial photography. Finding the perfect lighting for each surface of a product is the ultimate challenge, but Peter explained what the creative process is like when working on 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.”
Most of Peter’s photos are taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-70mm lens. The interview over at The Verge dives deep into Peter’s processes and some of the complex processes he uses to get the lightning perfect for each picture. The entire thing is well worth a read, even if you’re not into photography.