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... mailer: promoting 'tabletop'



... when I started out in advertising photography in Chicago it was a 'tabletop town'. Meaning that photography of things and especially food accounted for a large percentage of the commercial assignments being handed out. I didn't want anything to do with it. 'Product Photography'  is a very demanding area and there were plenty of amazing specialists to do it. Moreover, I was a part of that 'rock n' roll' generation that had come to the craft through 35mm and looked upon the gigantic beasts of large format view cameras with a mixture of disdain and dread. The things had wooden parts for god's sake! Many was the crusty old-school art director who insisted that everything be shot on as much acreage of emulsion as possible! 35mm cameras were considered 'miniature format' while we saw our Hassleblad's as the heaviest artillery in the closet.

It didn't help that my first job as an assistant was for a food-photographer and so I got to see whole thing from the low end of the totem pole. Try spending an afternoon searching through bag after bag for the perfect potato chip!

Fast-forward to the 21st Century and digital photography. Digital post-production can be used to the same effect as the 'swings and tilts' of the old view cameras. Extensive retouching can be employed to remove hot-spots, change reflections and make any object so pristine it looks like it was created in heaven. In short; digital took a lot of the pain out of table-top work.

I take my hat off and give a deep bow to the specialists of tabletop and food photography and their, now digital, field artillery cameras. I also breath a deep sigh of relief that I no longer have to hear the words "shoot it 4x5!".