Black-on-Black Footwear Photoshoot

With their various materials, textures, and forms, shoes make for very interesting products to photograph. And, with the right lighting, you can make virtually anything look cool  – as this class proves.

Karl nailed this his motorbike footwear photoshoot in just a few hours. You’ll be able to easily recreate the setup yourself as he walks you through it stop by step.

To create this dramatic product image, Karl starts by fixing the subject in position before gradually crafting his five-light setup. Small pockets of light are key to the feel of the image: you’ll see the modifiers Karl uses to achieve this, as well as how he uses reflectors and flags to further control the light.

In this class:

  • How to photograph black products on a black background
  • How to identify important features of products
  • Lighting techniques to enhance shape and form
  • How to create a dramatic mood using patches of light
  • Using mirrors and flags to control light and reduce flare

To learn about the post-production process for this shot, take a look at the accompanying retouching footwear class.

For more techniques on how to photograph footwear, we also have a replay of a live shoe photography workshop.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

Shoe Photography Shoot - Black on black motorcycle footwear photo.

Shoe Photography – Black on black motorcycle boot. © Karl Taylor


    1. Hi, If you take a look in this section in the ‘stands’ or ‘grips and clamps’ it would have likely been one of these just with some cloth wrapped around it as that’s what I usually use for shoe shots. Kind regards Karl.


    I find the shadows area of the shoes a little bit to dark don’t you think, I have a hard time making up what are the buttons on the front of the shoe and red stuff as well?

  2. Hi Karl,
    Any particular reason for the shutter speed? Seems to me a little high, but I bet you had your reasons. In my particular case 1/200 and even below kills every unwanted light in the studio.

      1. Did you have to use HSS mode to have the shutter speed at 1/500th of a second ? Maybe that’s what the other Bogdan was alluding to, why would you bother with HSS and such a fast shutter speed if traditionally we have to stay below 1/250th for sync speed and it’s almost always enough to remove ambient light from the shot.

        1. Hi Sparkbp, I wouldn’t have used HSS on this shoot as it was shot on a still life and also I’m on a medium format camera which can sync at any speed? Where in the video please did I mention using HSS? In answer to the second bit though we need higher shutter speeds sync usually outdoors in bright sunlight for example on fashion shoots where we want to underexpose the daylight scene but have the model exposed correctly with flash. There are ways around this with ND filters that are covered in our other classes.

          1. I understand now. You did not mention HSS, I just assumed HSS was used, because I forgot medium format cameras have a different style shutter in lens, so sync speed is irrelevant.

  3. Hi Karl,

    Ca I ask why you use 50 iso … is there a particular reason or is that just your default ?

    1. Hi John, 50iso is the default on the CCD sensor on the Hasselblad. On the new Hasselblad CMOS sensors the default is 100.

      1. Hi Karl,

        Considering the quality of modern digital lenses (MF and 35mm macro) do you find that you have more flexibility in achieving greater DOF at f18, f22 (without diffraction) as opposed to focus stacking at a wider aperture?

        This is going off the notion that the lens is at its sharpest from f8-11.

        Do you find yourself using smaller apertures like f18 often, or do you prefer to focus stack when dealing with small to medium sized products?

        1. Hi Simon, I recently shot an advertising image for some new hearing aids. They were only about 2cm high and extremely difficult to light. In the end I shot at f11 and did 9 images for the focus stack. I could have gone to f16 and might of needed 6 images for the stack but as I had to do the stack anyway I went for f11. It really does decide on the object size and the achievable DOF.

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