Cinematography Mailing List - CML



Shooting Watches

Published :  3rd June 2007

I have an upcoming shoot where I need to take stills of 500+ watches. Most will have silver wristbands. There are alot of watches that need to be shot, so I'm sure I'll see watches of all sorts. Final output is for a catalogue. Does anyone have suggestions for shooting watches? I'm planning on creating a very large & soft white light source, but want to keep the glare off the face.

Would a macro lens be necessary?

One of the toughest things I've found so far is propping up the watch correctly. Any ideas? Right now I have a circular item in the center of the wristband, but it's not filling it up quite right.

A finished product example should look similar to this :\

Thanks in advance!


Dom Zanghi
Philadelphia, PA
Video & Sports Prod, and occasionally stills

class="style2">>>Right now I have a circular item in the center of the wristband, but it's >>not filling it up quite right.

Hi Dom,

The photo in this link was shot using a light tent from Chimera or Photoflex. Two lights with reflectors lit this tent, one from the top, one from the bottom. Reflections off the watch crystal was controlled by the use of a round black board with a hole in the center through which the lens is mounted.

Yes, a macro lens is necessary for this kind of quality.

On the assumption these watches will come in presentation boxes, they should have the support you need for the band. If not, you'll need to get quite a few of these band supports from a watch store. They come in as many sizes as watches do.

Securing the whole watch on the background should be easy using Fun Tak (sometimes misspelt "Fun Tack")

Watches and clocks "beauty shots" are almost always photographed with their hands set to ten minutes after two. This is done to frame the brand name of the watch.

More importantly, brace yourself for *days* of excruciating, tedious boredom. Don't fool yourself into thinking that once you are set up, 500 repetitions is in any way a simple task.

MOST importantly, this is the kind of shoot clients are famous for selling as "Quick and Easy" and photographers who have never done a shoot like this readily agree.

If this client is expecting the quality found in the link you sent, I can assure you this photo was supplied to this web site by the watch manufacturer, who, in turn, paid a premium for this level of beauty shot.

Cliff Hancuff
Washington, DC

class="style2">>>Securing the whole watch on the background should be easy using >>Fun Tak (sometimes misspelt "Fun Tack")

If I was budgeting this I would have an excellent tabletop rigger with a couple of good assistants to make your “assembly line” work smoothly. Waiting for the next rig is what will kill you.

Jim Dollarhide

Waiting for the next rig is what will kill you.

Fingerprints and dust will, too. Cotton gloves and an antistatic brush will be mandatory.

I err'ed with the watch hand placement. I wrote 10 minutes after 2. I meant 10 minutes after 10.

Cliff Hancuff
Washington, DC

Many thanks to Cliff & Jim!

I shot a test... boy was that fun! I actually ended up building a tent-like rig. At the pace I was shooting the tests, I think I'll be shooting all the watches for the next few months J.

Thanks guys!


Dom Zanghi
Video Production & Camera Op.
Philadelphia, PA

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