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Apple's product photographer discusses inspiration, tradecraft and gear

Peter Belanger, the man whose images present Apple's latest and greatest products to the public, dished about working with the Cupertino company in an interview published on Wednesday, detailing his daily workflow and the tools he finds most useful in getting that perfect shot.

In an interview with The Verge, Belanger, a San Francisco-based advertising photographer, offered an in-depth look at how he creates the almost too perfect images of Apple products like the iPad, iPhone and other massively popular products.

"The biggest factor is how many photos need to be accomplished in a day. I try to keep the shot list reasonable so there’s time for me to light each product uniquely," Belanger said. "Ideally, I consider the material of the product and how best to light it. Sometimes it’s easier to light the materials without a surface getting in the way (since it can be added later)."

Belanger

Peter Belanger's lighting setup for a product shoot. | Source: The Verge


Belanger studied photography in the classical sense, and while pushed toward creative "art gallery" results, decided to go a more commercial route as Silicon Valley was ripe with product companies.

With Apple, the team comes prepared with a well developed idea of what is needed, he said. First Belanger works with the company's art directors on positioning the product before moving onto lighting, an important process in portraying the subject accurately while keeping an eye-catching aesthetic.

"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," Belanger said. "I pick an area to start with and think about how that material needs to be described."

As for gear, Belanger said his "go-to camera" right now is Canon's 5D Mark III fitted with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. He touts the zoom lens' shallow depth of field when wide open, a plus for his brand of product portraiture work.

To read the full interview, head to The Verge for a look at Belanger's software suite and the tale of a project with snakes coming out of shoes.