Although this looks like a simple photograph it was probably one of the most frustrating ads I have ever shot. Not for the reasons some shots turn into a pain in the butt such as a crazy art director, demanding client, impossible deadline, etc., but because those buttons were so darn shiny.
The copywriter came up with some button cliches and they were all typeset and reproduced custom for this photograph. The buttons were then laminated in a thick, shiny, clear plastic which reflected light just like a mirror. On the plus side they made a really nice highlight from the lightbox to give them a sense of shape and surface characteristics, as the art director wanted some nice highlights and a drop shadow to make them stand out from the white background.
The bad news was if the light hit the button in just the wrong place it would burn out that spot with a white highlight. Used a 3×4 foot Speedotron equipped softbox for even lighting and that covered a great deal of the surface area with highlights that turned pure white and made most of the buttons unreadable. Next we had to arrange and prop each button so that it would look its best.
There were several problems with this, first you have to do it from the actual camera angle because if you moved your view even an inch it would change the angle of view and the reflection would be in a different place. Used a Cambo 4×5 view camera for the shot and it was very awkward to view through the camera back since it was high and directly over the set. And if you have ever looked into a view camera focusing screen you know that the image is upside down and backwards.
You would be looking in and telling someone else which one to move and it got very confusing as many times they would move it in the opposite direction you were giving to them. And if that wasn’t hard enough, it you moved one button a couple more would move slightly too, then you would have to correct them and when you did the process just repeated over and over again. The work was just plain tedious and frustrating but after a long time of finessing we finally got the shot.