Product On White – The Challenge of the Duffle Bag

“Product On White – The Challenge of the Duffle Bag” is a product photography feat that most people, viewing the images, would never imagine. It’s a bag. What’s the big deal?

Well surprisingly, it is one of the most difficult types of product photography that product photographers may have to face. Quite different from other types of objects, duffle bags arrive from the client squashed in a box, flattened beyond recognition, and indecipherable as product. Alas, they have to be stuffed. These were big bags, which meant we needed a lot of stuffing. They also had multiple compartments which would have to be stuffed separately.

The first question is what to stuff them with. We found that paper trash, rather than cloth or styrofoam peanuts, seems to work the best. Paper is light, resilient, readily available, and can be compressed to fit into any sized compartment.
When we have a project like this, we take a walk to the art supply store in our neighborhood that throws away long and over-sized sheets of paper. We ask them if we can haul away some of their trash. They are typically amused, and willing to go along with the request. Kristine and I hauled out two large contractor size trash bags filled with fluff.

Product photography can sometimes become repetitive and mind-numbing depending on the type of product, the amount of product, and the nature of styling involved. However, there is nothing that compares to the excitement and challenge of stuffing paper trash into duffle bags. Remember it is the photographer’s responsibility to define the shape of a product. Unfortunately in this case it is not only with light.

It becomes almost a mini act of God to breathe trash into these lifeless forms and create a recognizable product for purchase. Part of the challenge is getting the lines of the bag to look straight even when the stitching is not precise. When the edges buckle and the zipper compartments collapse, it requires a delicate touch with extra stuffing, strategically jammed into corners and crevices to stretch out the fabric and make the shape of the bag symmetrical and pleasing to the eye.

What a joy to pack and unpack bag after bag…! At least we can say that Church Street Studios recycles its trash, lol….The best part is pleasing the client who will soon be sending us more interesting objects to work with, and of course, with all that practice we are now ready for Thanksgiving. Bring on the bird!

Copyright / Church Street Studios / Philadelphia PA / 2015