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Photographing Through Store Windows

Updated on April 25, 2014
CC BY-ND 2.0)
CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

Window shopping can be done by any photographer who knows the limits and inner workings of the gear in use. Of special concern is the reflection that comes when photographing anything behind glass.

The project itself is focused around recording images of articles that are on display on any of the many windows of any of the many shops found in any shopping malls and at many of the local stores. This theme is very much in demand by the photography stock houses and the images are always popular. Also in demand are images of the storefronts which include the window fronts but with the exception of including the name of each store since this can infringe upon registered copyrights and trademarks.

Apart from the inclusion of the store name or any store identification material, anything else is good. Aim to capture subjects that are attractively arranged in the windows.

Look for out of the ordinary items that are pleasing to look at. Include in the shots any props that are usually placed next to these items to make the scene more attractive to buyers and are often used to prop the item to give it a more appealing presentation. These are often natural things such as dry branches,colored rocks, crystals and colored cloth. Sometimes depending on the season, artificial snow or a holiday theme is used.

Keep in mind that at the beginning of the article I mentioned that anyone who is familiar with photographic techniques can conduct the project. This is because the reflection on the windows can play havoc on the camera sensors and often the only image that the camera will record is your own reflection.

You must use some sorts of diffuser material on your flash to create a more subtle light if you are using a flash unit. However better shots are obtained without the aid of extra light and even during the nighttime, most displays have their own illumination so avoid using flash if at all possible and a polarizing filter is a must. These filters eliminate the glare and present the user with a clear and unrestricted view of whatever is behind the glass as well as anything that is below the surface of water. Polarizes work on the same principle that most good sunglasses rely upon to give their user a much clearer view of the world around them.

"The polarizing filter used with most modern cameras is a circular polarizer. The first stage of the polarizer is a linear filter which filters out light that is linearly polarized in a specific direction. The second stage, for technical reasons related to the auto sensors within the camera, then circularly polarizes the light before it enters the camera.

The polarizing filter has two applications in both color photography and black-and-white photography: it reduces reflections from some surfaces, and it can darken the sky." Wikipedia.

It is always a good idea to ask the shop owner or manager for permission to photograph their wares as shown on the windows. Most of the time they will grant it to you. Regardless, unless you are inside of the store the items on display can be photographed without permission, but is just common courtesy to ask anyway.

Concentrate on the small businesses and those that cater to a smaller clientele and even better if the shops carry merchandise that is unusual, like those found at antique stores and arts and crafts. If you live anywhere near a small town, these have many smaller shops with such items.

Photograph your subjects at eye level and in close up modes as well as in more wider angles to include small details but also to include the entire display. Do horizontal as well as vertical formats. A good telephoto lens in the range of 80mmm to 20mm is very helpful.

These images are excellent sources for photographic stock houses submissions but remember to ask before sending anything as many of the stock houses are very selective in what type of window shop images that they are willing to carry.

Often, they already have a wants list from prospective commercial buyers and they will pay above the average rate for these. Keep in mind that your images must be top notch and technically perfect. If using a wants list from a photo stock house you must follow their guidelines up to the letter. Their clients have specific uses for the images and pay good prices for these images so their level of expectancy is quite high.

No matter how good and pleasing your images may turn out to be, if they do not conform to the stock house specifications they more than likely will not be in any rush to buy them from you.

CC BY-ND 2.0)
CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Cara. R: Thank you, just be patient with practice you will learn to take these type of shots consistently

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Thank you Lynn

    • Cara.R profile image

      Cara 6 years ago from New York

      Very nice hub,

      I tried this out when I went to Italy. I left the flash off and stood in a position where I couldn't see my reflection. Although their have been times where the reflection, other than me, looked nice in the photo but obviously wouldn't work well with most stock houses, for that particular look.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      Very helpful hub. I usually take pix of such things to see how they may look in my house in case I want to change the decor.


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