Tissot T-touch print campaign in partnership with Fell&Co.

Take a look behind the scenes at how we shot the Tissot T-touch Smart Watch print ad campaign in partnership with Fell&Co.

At Smith and Daniels, we work with some of the world’s biggest agencies and brands. 

A couple of months ago Fell + Company a premium video production agency, based in Cape Town reached out to us with a new project on hand. We had previously collaborated with them on the 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign, and to say that we were excited about the upcoming all-new Tissot T-touch Smart Watch to be launched in mid-2020, was putting it mildly. 

Fell&Co invited us to shoot alongside their video crew and capture high-end billboard ready images to display and tell a story of the new watches journey through and around Cape Town South Africa. This approach resonated perfectly with us, simply because at our core we’re storytellers who strategize, develop, produce and deliver content, driven by purpose and passion.   

The campaign was to be used mostly in and around Europe, with the idea being simple yet effective. The Campaign consisted of four key elements or key individuals, a basketball player, a hiker, a cyclist and an urban scene. Read further down as I explain each setting and break down each shot step by step.  

This almost goes without saying, but we take a lot of photographs of watches here at Smith and Daniels. We are often asked about our process and equipment by enthusiasts looking to build on their skill-set, but that is another article for another day.  

Taking good quality pictures of watches can be tricky. The battle to eliminate or control reflections can seem endless, and glare can be a real problem. However, there are some simple techniques that even amateur photographers can use to obtain excellent results with minimal effort.  

For lighting, I kept it simple yet flexible with the Profoto B1’s. The light is portable yet gives me ample options when needing to be mobile. As I was photographing alongside Fell&Co who were covering the video portion of the shoot, most of the time I was not able to use flash as this would disturb the video. I also took this time to purchase the incredible and highly recommendable Sony Planar 50mm F1.4 (purchased from Orms Cape Town) which I shot 90% of the shoot on at F2 and F4.

Day 1: The Urban Gentleman scene

Day one was photographing the Urban Gentleman scene in the heart of Cape Town CBC. The location and set idea was to create a bright scene where the character would be working from his “office” or “loft”, discussing ideas with colleagues. The characters profession was a young and vibrant architect.

I lit the subject heavily from behind with the light wrapping around him, a very white and clean look to the working space focusing on the watch while incorporating the model and his discussion. The other reason for using flash was not only to fill the large space with light but by doing this, I was also balancing the light coming from the back windows which were causing a nasty halo around the model. When the portion of the video was being recorded, I made use of their continuous lighting, trying to keep my imagery in line with the video so both video and imagery would work seamlessly together should they be used on the same platform.

The next scene was a late-night party of friends at a luxurious loft “owned” by the architect’s character. For this setup, I used Profoto’s B1 modelling lamp, keeping the lighting realistic to the mood all the while balancing the cityscape natural lighting with that of the model.

Day 2: the basketball scene

Day two was an early start photographing the basketball scene held at the back of the V&A waterfronts basketball and skate park. This set-up was early morning light with long shadows cast over the court with more natural lighting. The look and feel was to capture him playing one on one and against other players on the day. 

For this, I used the Sony 24-70 g-master and Sony Planar 50mm F1.4, images of the player slam dunking with some more aerial shots showing more of the court and surroundings. The imagery the client was looking for on the day was a slam dunk by the player, making up one of the four hero images needed. The character/model was, in fact, a basketball player the slam dunk was made easier by his ability to play the game. 

Imagery from this scene was to make up one of the four print style campaign images being used in and around Europe. Any photographer will tell you, that shooting for international clients is hard work but the work goes global, and that’s a great feeling. The client was looking for a dynamic image, something that caught the buyers attention, what better image to do this than the image of the basketball player flying through the air about to slam dunk!! This image became the main key visuals for this segment of the shoot.

Day 3: the life of an adventurer

Day three’s shoot still ranks among my favourite out of the four campaigns visually. Day three’s shoot was all about being outdoors, the life of an adventurer, creating imagery of the third styled Tissot watch in the collection. 

This side of the campaign was focusing on the watches ability to act as an altimeter and compass, pretty amazing right? The idea was a hiker on an adventure, finding his way and travelling through the forests of Somerset West finally ending up at a large lake to camp alongside his family. For this leg of the shoot, I used the Profoto B1 with warm colour gel giving the scene an afternoon/sunset look and feel. Photographed using my Sony A7R4 with Sony Planar 50mm F1.4. The Sony Planar 50mm is an amazing lens rendering outstanding results from crisp imagery to soft background blur, ideal in a situation like this.

Why the shallow depth of field you ask? Good question! 

Tissot wanted to make the surrounding area look European, they felt Cape Town is too distinct looking with the mountains and surrounding areas. The idea is to blur as much of the background as possible, giving the purchaser or client a sense of “ this could be anywhere in the world” This part of the shoot was more relaxed while allowing the model freedom to move around while expressing the character he was playing. Nothing like just being able to shoot and take great imagery. 

Day 4: Professional Cyclist

The Fourth and final day of the campaign was possibly the more difficult day out of the lot due to photographing into the late night along with photographing out the back of a fast-moving car while hanging half out the window. The imagery on the day was photographed using primarily my Sony G-Master 70-200 F2.8, which I find easier to handhold while photographing out the back of a moving car. The lens offers outstanding optics with superb image stabilisation coupled with Sony’s built-in iBIS gives you around 8stops, so shooting handheld in low light with this setup works.

In Summary

Even now, I’ll often take 20 or 30 shots before I land on something that I like.

A watch photographer’s job is by far the most difficult in product photography. As a photographer, you are expected to produce images that are both compelling and luxurious – which means you need to have the attention to detail, experience and skillset to pull it off.

Lighting alone is radically different to any other photographic discipline. While it is possible to take ‘lifestyle’ images using basic camera equipment and even mobile phones, watch photography lighting requires a very specific skillset employing ‘gradient’ lighting, sparkle lighting, and more. Now imagine applying these techniques in the field under various conditions.

At Smith and Daniels, we pride ourselves on our ability to shoot watches to perfection, highlighting the engravings, embellishments and textures that make your watch unique.

We shoot for e-commerce and still life, so we can cater to any watch product photography you need carrying out, from shots for your website to images for social media campaigns. Our e-commerce work is consistently clean and refined, with your watch being the exclusive aspect of the shot.

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