The Verge has an interesting interview up with Peter Belanger, the man responsible for many of Apple's iconic product shots. Though you may not be familiar with the name, Belanger is a San Francisco-based photographer who helps make Apple's products look so darn appealing and aesthetically sharp. If you've ever seen an advertisement for an Apple product on the subway or even checked out Apple's website, you've seen his work.
When asked about the process behind an Apple product shoot, Belanger explains:
The team at Apple always has a really well-developed shot list and sketches of what they need. I work with their talented art directors to translate those sketches into photos. We start by getting the position of the product and then move forward on lighting. Because Apple products have such carefully selected materials, it is incredibly important to light the product in a way that will showcase the various materials accurately. I pick an area to start with and think about how that material needs to be described. Once that section is done I move on to the next. This is how my sets get so complicated! I need to have control over each and every surface so when the client asks for a highlight to be elongated, I can do that. It's similar to working on a file in Photoshop: you don't do all your work on one layer. I think of my lights as layers that I can adjust individually to get the desired results.
When Belanger says that his sets get complicated, he's not kidding. Check out this rig setup below.
As for his camera of choice, all you camera enthusiasts out there might be interested to know that Belanger's go-to is the Canon 5D Mark III.
Overall, the entire interview with Belanger is well worth a read, especially if you're curious as to the tremendous work that often underlies seemingly simple product shots. You can also check out more of Belanger's portfolio over here.