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Photographing advertising with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

This is the final article in a four-part series discussing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Click here to read my previous article, discussing the use of the camera for portraiture.

In addition to corporate events, I also shoot some corporate promotional — also known as advertising — photography. These images are used on a wide array of mediums, including websites, brochures, mailers, billboards and more.

Corporate advertising

That’s right — I said billboards. Despite having a 20-megapixel sensor, my photographs have ended up on billboards.

One of the biggest concerns of anyone switching to micro four-thirds is whether or not the photographs will lend itself to large format prints. Having had a couple of my photos showcased on electronic billboards, as well as large photos inside retail stores, I can tell you that the concern here is completely unwarranted.

Like my event work, I love the fact that I’m able to achieve a great sharpness and color in my photographs with the E-M1 Mark II. The photos are crisp and just pop off the screen.

With strobes and speedlights

Most of my corporate advertising work involves strobes — specifically my AlienBee B800’s. If I’m outdoors, I might not be quite as complex with my lighting, instead opting to go with a speedlight either held off-camera or directly in the hot shoe. These allow me to control the light as much as possible, without having to alter the natural light that’s available at the location. I never turn the lights off at the location, as it adds to the overall scene. You wouldn’t walk through a retail store with the lights off, would you?

In all my advertising photographs, I go for a natural look. The Olympus helps me achieve this through its color profiles, offering a great balance to the end file. It means I can focus more on the composition and overall shot, which is key when trying to get “the one” for the next big promotion.

Natural light

While I do a lot of strobe work, sometimes I’m forced to use the light available to me. Often this happens with my outdoor advertising work. For instance, earlier this fall I was asked by a local apple orchard to come by and take some photos of the farm in-action. This meant that guests were present and were busy picking pumpkins and apples, and going on hay rides.

Because this involves me going up to each group and asking on the spot if I can take a few photos, obviously I’m not going to be able to light it (with the exception of an on-camera flash). Using things like reflectors, diffusers and other modifiers are difficult here as well.

The Olympus handles this like a champ. I actually relate this work to my event photography, as I often have to be ready on-the-fly. It’s easy to adjust things like highlights and shadows in post-processing; the Olympus RAW files are really, really good at not losing image quality when adjusting this. To show you the power of this, take a look at this before-and-after:

Food

I also shoot a decent amount of food and drink photography. I love shooting the art of another artist — the chef or bartender. As I’ve mentioned, the color in the E-M1 Mark II is phenomenal, and really helps bring the food and drinks to life.

By using f/1.2 prime lenses, I’m able to obtain ideal sharpness and also play around with the depth-of-field if warranted. With drinks specifically, I like to explore different angles, and also push my editing a bit to fit the “feel” of the location. While I tend to have a natural style for my other commercial work, beverage photographs are an exception.

Gear of choice

With corporate advertising photography, I’m a little more open in terms of what lenses to use. My first choice is my 45mm f/1.2 PRO lens, as well as the loaned 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens. Besides that, I like to use the 60mm f/2.8 MACRO for food photography, as well as the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO and 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO.

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