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Tips & Tricks

Simple Lighting for Beautiful Product Photography – Getting the “Clinique Look”

By Chris Nachtwey on April 30th 2014

Creating commercial product images is one of those areas of photography that looks simple, but actually is pretty difficult. There is nothing harder than lighting a translucent object. The lighting is extremely specific and needs to be spot on. In the video below, Andrew Boey shows us how, with a few Younguo speedlights and handmade flags, you can create beautiful product images.


The Clinique “Look”

Clinique product images are known for the distinctive black band on the reflective part of their products. To achieve this look, Andrew explains that you need a  ‘Zebra Flag’ & ‘M Flag’  to achieve this look properly.


Andrew shows us that he uses a custom made Zebra M flag with black felt attached to it to create a four stop shadow area that you can shoot through, and still have the flash reflect off of to light your product.


Andrew uses a speedlight set to 1/8 power, bounces it’s light output off an additional all white flag at a forty-five degree angle to the back of the product. He places an additional speedlight below the product table, shooting straight through white seamless paper to create a white background. He then places the Zebra M flag in front of the product and shoots through the hole. Since the black velvet is not reflective, it creates a shadow area. This shadow area is what creates the black band that Clinique is well known for.




His lighting cheat sheet is pure brilliance. Anyone who does product photography should create one!



After watching Andrews tutorial, I feel that I could use his technique to create product images myself at home. His lighting was broken down very well and he uses Speedlights that many photographers already have in their kits. I loved how he uses his pop up flash to trigger his Speedlight’s VS wireless triggers. I personally own wireless triggers, but for the photographer on a budget, there is nothing wrong with using your pop up flash. As I always say, you don’t need the best or most expensive gear to get the job done!

Do you have some simple techniques for creating product images? Share them with all of us in the comments below.


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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Graham Curran

    Great (cheap) lighting tip.

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  2. Tanya Smith

    This is so great, Chris! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Greg F

    The definition of Zebra part at the end is 18 rated, not sure you know its there so thought I’d mention it

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