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1951-2020: Ikea’s Catalog, the World’s Longest Running, is No More

Ikea has announced that it is sunsetting its catalog as part of a continued transition to digital sales. Described by Ikea as “iconic and beloved,” the publication will cease both print and digital publication.

The Ikea Catalog had found itself the center of attention numerous times over the years, from a story on most of the images seen in its pages being computer-generated, to its numerous pop-culture references, to its multiple Photoshop controversies. In August, Ikea even recreated its 2021 catalog using images taken in the popular video game Animal Crossing.

Through the years, the catalog grew in distribution in both digital and physical form. In 1998, Ikea first attempted the online version of its catalog featuring only furniture for businesses and offices due to the challenges they faced putting the entire catalog online. The company would eventually remedy the issues of course, and in 2000 launched both a printed and fully digital version of the catalog. The following year, Ikea launched an e-commerce website in Sweden and Denmark.

By 2016, the catalog saw a distribution size of 200,000 copies in 69 different versions, 32 languages, and more than 50 markets.

Just four years later, the catalog is no more.

“The decision to say goodbye to the Ikea Catalog goes hand-in-hand with the ongoing transformation of Ikea, being more digital and accessible,” the company writes. “A transformation that Ikea is deep into already.”

In the last year, Ikea online retail sales increased 45% worldwide, and saw more than four billion visits. With that much attention to its digital presence, it’s no wonder the company reevaluated the necessity of the catalog.

Decades-worth of Ikea’s past catalogs can be viewed online.

The photography in the catalog has been, as noted, mostly computer-generated since about 2009. The near-perfect lighting and well-staged scenes are no accident, and the company’s choice to do away with the catalog will likely have little effect on those who do still make images for the brand. The company still needs photos for its growing e-commerce business, and those who have been tasked with digital creation or actual photography will likely find themselves producing images with more focus.

Still, many relied on the Catalog for design ideas. You can see those lamenting the loss of the catalog in Ikea’s Facebook post of the announcement.

For those who still want help visualising spaces and learning how to stage them (which is especially helpful to those in architecture or real-estate photography), decades worth of Ikea’s past catalogs can still be browsed online.

Ikea says it will honor and celebrate the history of the Ikea Catalog via a tribute during the fall of 2021. The company plans to make a book they say is “filled with great home furnishing inspiration and knowledge.”

(Via NPR)

Image credits: Header image via Ikea.

Faking an Oceanside Photo Shoot with a Swimming Pool and a Toy SUV

Earlier this year, PetaPixel featured photographer Kunal Kelker and his inventive shoot involving a treadmill and a toy car. In his latest project, he replicates the classic oceanside SUV shot with a swimming pool, some rocks, and a scale model toy car.

Kelkar tells PetaPixel that after he finished the Lamborghini shoot on the treadmill, he wanted to try something different and slightly higher scale while keeping setup and execution simple.

“It was a coincidence that Lamborghini India had seen the treadmill shoot and approached us for a collaboration,” Kelkar says.

Lamborghini sent Kelkar a 1:18 scale collectible model of the Urus SUV to use as a subject for whatever photo he wanted to create.

“Since we missed an opportunity to travel to Italy earlier this year because of the Lockdown, we wanted to showcase the Urus on the Amalfi Coast,” Kelkar says. “Since the Urus has the capability to go off-road, the idea was to showcase the ability of the Urus to reach a scenic coastal area that is without roads.”

Kelkar and his partner Kanika Sood came up with the idea of using a swimming pool to act as the ocean and using a low angle to make it look like the scale model was right up next to the sea.

“To make it look like the photograph was taken from inside the sea, it was necessary to take the shot of the Urus from inside the swimming pool, which also meant submerging the camera to slightly add the extra depth for the image,” Kelkar explains.

“We needed a clear case to submerge the camera in the water without getting the camera wet and also to make sure that the water is at a distance from the lens so as to be able to capture the wave formation and the scene above and below.”

Rather than acquiring underwater housing, Kelkar made the simple choice of just using the plastic case that usually covers the Urus model.

“The Fujifilm X-T3 sat perfectly in the inverted acrylic cover which allowed us to get great split level images of the water,” Kelkar says. “To showcase the Urus on a ledge we submerged a medium-sized rock on the steps of the swimming pool and placed the Urus scale model on top. This made it look like the Urus was sitting on a rock ledge beside the sea. Multiple images were taken to make sure the Urus scale model was in focus and the perspective matched. On the edit table, we added in the background to complete the mood of the image.”

The second photo Kelkar shot needed to look like it was taken on a sandy beach. To do this, he sieved pit sand onto flat stone to mimic how it might look at full scale.

“Smaller rocks were used to add the element of a rocky beach and the scene was placed on the edge of the swimming pool to give it a coastal feel.”

“The camera was placed in a way that allowed the Urus scale model to look life-size as if it was parked on the beach near the water.”

For more from Kelkar, you can visit his website or follow him on Instagram.

Why Hiring an Assistant is Better Than Buying a Camera or Lens

Karl Taylor, a photography educator, has published this 10-minute video that explains why hiring an assistant is one of the best investments of capital any photographer who is serious about growing a business can make.

Taylor mentions a common statement many photographers say to themselves: “I can’t afford an assistant.” But at the same time, Taylor points out, these photographers do not bat an eye at purchasing a new lens, upgrading their cameras, or renting specialized equipment. Taylor argues that using an assistant is actually more valuable to a serious photographer’s work than any piece of equipment.

Taylor gives an example of how hiring an assistant can have huge ramifications for a photographer. If, for example, a photographer working alone could complete a job in a day (which includes the setup, photographing time, and teardown) and spend the next day editing the images, then hiring an assistant could cut that work time in half. Instead of taking a day to do the photoshoot, it would take half that amount of time, which frees the photographer up to use the second half of the day to do the retouching. This clears an entire day from the schedule that could be used on another shoot, or doing marketing or administration for the business.

Taylor takes it a step further, suggesting that if the photographer was smart enough to hire an assistant that could also do administration work, it would further free up the photographer to book more shoots via marketing and relationship building.

But aside from just saving time, Taylor says that an assistant can have a direct effect on how having help improves the work a photographer would produce. When shooting alone, making any adjustments to subjects takes your eye away from the camera and prevents you from being able to see the minute changes that lighting or positioning makes. Using an assistant keeps your eye on the viewfinder and allows you to have better control over what you are shooting and how it is being portrayed.

Taylor’s full video is full of many compelling arguments to consider using an assistant. It’s much harder to rationalize paying for something like an assistant which is far less tangible than a new lens or camera, but Taylor argues that someone who really understands the business of photography will see the value. If you would like to read more about this subject rather than watch the video, Taylor has a full blog posted here worth reading.

What do you think? Do you hire assistants for your work? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

(Via ISO 1200)

Image Credits: Cody Lannom via Unsplash

Five Tips for Better Beverage Photos from Steve Giralt

You may know Steve Giralt from his outstanding effects work with his production company The Garage or his in-progress education Kickstarter, but in this 9-minute video, he shows you five tips that promise to make your beverage photos better.

Giralt calls himself a visual engineer, which is a person who uses a mix of styling and camera control to make stellar finished images. His five tips are simple, easy to understand, and will make notable impacts on your images:

Pay Attention to the Background – Giralt says that especially with beverages, your background is important. Because liquids are translucent, whatever background color you pick has a direct effect on how your liquid will look. “Keep in mind what your background is doing, what kind of light gradation is happening on your background, because it is very heavily affecting how your drink looks.”

Apply Diffusion – If you want your drink to stand out better and separate from the background, you need to create that separation. You can do this with diffusion, and you can apply it in one of two ways. One, you can cut diffusion paper to fit into the back of the glass so you can diffuse the back of your drink. The second way involves using dulling spray to diffuse the glass exactly where you want that done.

Use Good Ice – Real ice has its problems, like looking murky, fogging up your glass, or having inconsistent shapes. Also, it melts. Giralt suggests using fake ice made out of acrylic. They’re hand-carved, polished, and even though they can cost as much as $30 or $60 each they have significant advantages over real ice.

Utilize Reflections – Use mirrors or reflective cards to add interesting reflections to images. If you, for example, place a reflective card behind a drink, you can add a level of interior brightness to the liquid that adds depth and dynamism. If you want to go a step further, you can use LED light strips to give yourself even more control of how light goes through the liquid.

Add Condensation – Especially if you’re not using real ice, adding condensation to a drink will add to the visual feeling of cold to whoever sees your photo. Giralt uses spray-on water that he finds at a local pharmacy to add a frosted, condensation look. If you want larger droplets, you can add glycerin to water which will create larger, big water blobs.

There are a ton of other techniques he’s shown off in the past, which you can peruse here. For more, follow Giralt on Instagram and The Garage Instagram.

(Via ISO 1200)

Using a 17-Year-Old Digital Back on a Hasselblad 500C/M

Photographer Mark Fore has a classic Hasselblad 500C/M that he would love to shoot digitally, but he didn’t want to drop $6,400 on the new 907x 50c with the compatible CFV II 50C digital back. Instead, he picked up a 17-year-old Phase One H20 for less than $600 on eBay, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

The Phase One H20 digital back was released way back in 2003 as a native attachment for Hasselblad V-system cameras. Sporting a 16MP CCD image sensor capable of 16-bit color depth, an ISO range of 50-100, and a whopping 0.75 frames per second at top speed, it’s certainly not blowing minds in the modern day, but the price and performance you can get, makes this an amazing partner for an old Hasselblad camera.

“The results are amazing! The back goes from $400-600 on eBay and I couldn’t be happier,” Fore tells PetaPixel. “It just goes to show you don’t need the latest and greatest to still have all the dynamic range you need.”

Here are a few sample images that Fore has shot with the combo:

Fore dedicated his first ever YouTube video to sharing his experience with the 500C/M and H20 digital back, hoping to turn some more people on to this 17-year-old gem. He even shared one of his Raw files (click here to download) so that you can test the back’s latitude and pixel peep a real-world shot for yourself.

Suffice it to say that 16MP is plenty of resolution, and the dynamic range is surprisingly good… even compared to the latest and greatest.

Go ahead and watch the full video up top to hear more about this combo and see it in action, and if you want to see more from Fore, check out his website or give him a follow on Instagram.

Image credits: All photos by Mark Fore and used with permission.