Black-on-Black Footwear Photoshoot

Shoes and footwear products make for very interesting products to photograph with their textures, shapes and forms. And, with the right lighting, you can make virtually anything look cool if you shoot it in the right way, as is shown in this class.

This motorbike footwear photoshoot was nailed in just a few hours, and you’ll be able to easily recreate the setup yourself as Karl walks through each step of the shoot.

To create this dramatic product image, Karl starts by fixing the subject in position before gradually building up his five-light lighting setup. Small pockets of light were key to creating the dramatic feel, and you’ll see the modifiers used to achieve this as well as how he used reflectors and flags to further control the light.

Class objectives:

  • Learn how to photograph black products on a black background
  • Understand how to identify important features of products
  • Lighting techniques to enhance shape and form
  • How to create a dramatic mood using patches of light
  • Using mirrors and flags to control light and reduce flare

To learn about the post-production process for this shot, take a look at the accompanying retouching footwear class.

For more techniques on how to photograph footwear, we also have a replay of a live shoe photography workshop.

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.

NOTE: This class is available with English subtitles and automatic translations.

Shoe Photography Shoot - Black on black motorcycle footwear photo.

Shoe Photography – Black on black motorcycle boot.


  1. Hi Karl,
    Any particular reason for the shutter speed? Seems to me a little high, but I bet you had your reasons. In my particular case 1/200 and even below kills every unwanted light in the studio.

  2. Hi Karl,

    Ca I ask why you use 50 iso … is there a particular reason or is that just your default ?

    1. Hi John, 50iso is the default on the CCD sensor on the Hasselblad. On the new Hasselblad CMOS sensors the default is 100.

      1. Hi Karl,

        Considering the quality of modern digital lenses (MF and 35mm macro) do you find that you have more flexibility in achieving greater DOF at f18, f22 (without diffraction) as opposed to focus stacking at a wider aperture?

        This is going off the notion that the lens is at its sharpest from f8-11.

        Do you find yourself using smaller apertures like f18 often, or do you prefer to focus stack when dealing with small to medium sized products?

        1. Hi Simon, I recently shot an advertising image for some new hearing aids. They were only about 2cm high and extremely difficult to light. In the end I shot at f11 and did 9 images for the focus stack. I could have gone to f16 and might of needed 6 images for the stack but as I had to do the stack anyway I went for f11. It really does decide on the object size and the achievable DOF.

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