From cookbooks in bookstore windows to magazine covers you pass in the grocery store check outline, it is hard not to notice the overhead camera view’s popularity in food photography. Overhead shots are also incredibly popular in creating stylish product shots or knolling photography for social media and the web.
An overhead shot setup is a great tool to have in your arsenal. In this article we’ll discuss the process, creation, and necessary hardware to create your own simple overhead shot setup.
To shoot from the overhead camera angle, your camera will need to be directly above your set and pointed straight down. If you are hand holding, you will end up in a position that puts a lot of stress on your lower back. That may be fine for the one-off, but if you’re doing multiple overhead shots that’s going to take a toll on your body and lead to poor image quality.
The one key to making this type of photography super easy is a stand with the Rock Solid Cross Bar Side Arm pictured below. The Cross Bar is 25″ (63.5cm) in length and allows photographers to extend the camera over the shot.
In the below image, we’ve mounted the Rock Solid Cross Bar Side Arm to a lightstand using the Rock Solid Baby Ballhead Adapter, then securely mounted a camera on a ball head/tripod mount to one end of the Cross Bar Side Arm, then tethered the camera using a TetherPro USB cable.
It’s also absolutely necessary to shoot tethered once the camera is setup on the side arm. Leaning over your plate of food or product, struggling to take and check shots just won’t work. Once your camera is connected and tethered to a computer, you can trigger the camera, check focus, change settings, all from the comfort of your laptop or computer.
Setting It Up
- Place your product as you like it, but realize that you’ll adjust after you setup your camera and see the first round of images
- Set up your tripod.
- Secure your Rock Solid Cross Bar Side Arm to the 3/8” thread on your tripod. If you don’t have a tripod, you could substitute a light stand or C-stand paired with a Rock Solid Baby Ballhead Adapter.
- Attach a camera ballhead to one end of the Rock Solid Cross Bar Side Arm, and attach your camera.
- Connect your TetherPro USB cable (and JerkStopper) from your camera to your computer and launch your tethering software of choice.
- Snap your first shot from the computer and adjust the camera placement, product, and lighting as necessary.
- Stand with a Rock Solid Baby Ballhead Adapter – the ballhead adapter provides a 3/8″ mounting option to a c-stand or lightstand allowing the side arm to be mounted securely like the Tether Tools Low Boy Roller
- Rock Solid Cross Bar Side Arm – features 3/8″ threads at each end and base, knurled plates for quick and easy mounting, and double locking ratchet knobs to keep the side arm secure
- TetherPro USB Cable and JerkStopper Camera Support – the necessary USB tethering cable for your camera and cable management to protect your camera port and to stay connected
- Computer and Tethering Software – Lightroom, Capture One, or Smart Shooter are all great options