Product Photography Like You’ve Never Seen

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

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I was recently turned on to the absolutely killer commercial photography of Mitchell Feinberg. An American working in both Paris and New York, he does some of the best product photography around. Check out these examples.

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I struggled to find my favourite examples from his site for this article, as there were tons of them. The most striking ones are these recent pieces of work for Muse Magazine, which are technically advertisements or product photography, for products that have been scultuped out of a kind of mold. It’s as though their imprint was left perfectly inside drying cement, only dozens of times more detailed.

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The polo shirt is an especially striking example, and each one from this series gives a strangely satisfying emboss to these handbags, watches, and wallets. I love the fact that each product is entirely drained of colour and essential shape, and the photo is as much about the cracked texture and broken surface of the environment around the indent as it is about the prouduct being represented.

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Here’s something I never thought I’d be stunned by: makeup and cosmetics photography. Feinberg makes this stuff look luxurious and entirely alien. Flipping through a fashion magazine, stuff like this might get missed, but when seen as part of his impressive portfolio, it’s some beautiful work.

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This red/blue combination is especially beautiful–he’s turned lipstick and… that blue thing (what kind of makeup is that, anyway? I’m clueless) into what looks like an unconventional homage to abstract painting.

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And then there’s his food photography, which I’m still unsure about. He approaches it with the same eye he lends to the cosmetics, which means much of it looks alien and interesting, and hits you with a fresh burst of the unexpected. That’s good, but does it make me want to eat what he’s shooting? Not exactly, but I don’t think that one set of criteria is all that matters. A lot of this work is for the New York Times Magazine, which publishes some of the best food writers in the country, and they’re not always writing about how delicious and fun it is to eat things.

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For some reason the aesthetics of Feinberg’s embossed series made me think of this model by Hans Op De Beeck that I stumbled upon recently, which is just a rapid-prototyped (unless it’s entirely computer-generated–I can’t tell) model of a modernist, Le Corbusier-styled apartment flat, only with additional touches like satellite dishes on every balcony and the first signs of decay. It occupies the space between real life and Corbusier’s blueprints: a pristine white model of what his famous designs eventually became. De Beeck calls it a “silent witness to the crumbling of modern thought.” Sure, why not?

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