Lee Morris Attempts To Shoot A Rolex Watch

Lee Morris Attempts To Shoot A Rolex Watch

As I said on the front page I am not a product photographer so I had to figure out a lot of this as I was shooting. If you have any helpful comments leave them below.

Photograph a Rolex watch, product photography lighting techniques from FStoppers on Vimeo.

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Hey man, nice stuff... you didn't mention it so I'm not sure if it was on purpose or pure dumb luck, but the watch was set to 10:10, which is the de facto time for all pro watch-ad shots since it 1)doesn't hide the brand name generally at the top middle, and 2)it's a subtle smiley-face which makes potential buyers feel warm and fuzzy. At any rate, you did it so rock and roll.

I read something like this once before and every Rolex is set to this time so I thought I should do the same :)

I've seen this picture on your website and it's great to see how it was made. Great job guys!

Dale, good to hear from you. You ever finished that last video?

Since your in the studio, why not get the background, table top, and watch lit in one go and skip the photoshop?

I don't think its possible. The watch needs to be lit with so many different reflectors and flags that you could never get a background looking normal or "well lit". Check out Rolex.com everything has been shot in layers.

I cannot wait to see the video of the actual Rolex photographer! Working on this shoot really made me appreciate what they do. If you have not already spent hours on their site yet, check out www.Rolex.com and be prepared to be amazed

This is very well done!
Informative and great how you reflect on your rational behind steps. Most pros just show off in their videos, yours is very helpful!
Thanks a lot and please post more.
All the best from Berlin/Germany,

the time is 2 minutes off ;)
Watches in watch ads ALWAYS show 10:10. (I got that from a random facts app on my phone, but living in Zurich, Switzerland, I've been given a thousand different ads and once I had read that, I started noticing it is in fact true :))

Great job in any case :)

Hey Lee, found this incredibly useful! Final shot was nice.

On a side note, I like the fact you use dell!


Thanks Harvinder... isn't it funny, I am a photographer that hates Mac... I can't live without my iPhone though

Check out Rolex.com all of the watches are set to 10:11. They must have wanted to be a little different :)

@ Lee: Rolexes are always set at 10:10:31 for their product shots - they "cheat" though, none of the watches used in the shots have any interals, making it easier to get the time spot-on...

Larry Sanders's picture

So my friend calls me while Im watching the video and asks what I was doing, so I told him I was watching a video of a guy taking a picture of a watch. After a second he says "I never want to hear you complain about me watching golf and saying how boring it is." Hes got a point... great video though.

Great video and great shot. This inspired me to give it a try on my new Tissot. I don't think my turned out quite as well and I'd love any feedback on making it better. Thanks!


Looks great. Please post this with some details on fstoppersforum.com

Great video!! I do a little product photography, and this was helpful. I've seen videos of guys who do product photography on plexiglass, using different types of lights to create the backgrounds. Perhaps try that sometime?

Great vid, it's interesting to see how you built up to the final photo. Re your comment about looking contrasty, could be worth trying putting he gobos between the light source and the diffusion material. That way you'll get a softer transition between the tones in the reflections on the metal

I tend to use a light source smaller than the area of diffusion (i.e. a speedlight behind frosty plexi) you can use the transition area at the edge of the beam to get a nice graduated light.

Like the idea of using strips of black paper though - might have to try that one.

As you point out lighting shiny metal is actually lighting the area that is reflected in the metal surface. Consider what range of tones you want in the final image, you could use more tonal gradations bridging light and dark. As mentioned by Phil Way using diffusion panels to light can be very effective as you can move your lamphead around (in close or feathered across an angle) creating a gradated tone to be reflected by the watch. You should also have reflectors in a wider range than black and white to provide another tool for more tones reflected in the surface. The flexible nature of the paper is useful in some ways, but also using stiffer card stock allows for solid placement and angling. Always good are dowel rods attached to stands with a lump of funtack to grip the reflector. These reflectors can then be placed where ever they are needed and cut to size and shape for the particular highlight desired.

Nice ROLEX-Fake...


Before we had our digiBacks, DSLRs or PS you had no way of "tweaking" your pictures. All had to be real.

One of my most painful memories is, when I was working as assitant to a still-life photographer (R.M.Schnell) back in the early 90ies we had received 4 brand new LEICA R6 bodies with 50mm Zeiss lenses and we sent them to some kind of "specialist" to freeze them into huge blocks of transparent white ice with some cracks in it. My boss made his pictures (5x7 inch slides) and they were beautiful but the cameras were "gone" forever.

For my own folio and pain I later did a shot of a Rolex Daytona with 4x5 slide film and after 2 days (shoot/takem to the lab/wait 2hrs/rush back/correct light/shoot again a.s.o.a.o.a.o...)
You can see the still at my website:

Keep up the good work guys!
Cheers, Phil

It is fantastic to see you doing this photoshoot! Lighting metal properly is very difficult and you did a great job at trouble shooting. One of the most difficult problems to solve in shooting any thing with a metallic shiny surface is to figure out where the highs and lows should go. And if the ratio is not correct the piece ends up looking flat and less valuable and less shiny and clean. I am glad I found your site as you show great enthusiasm and
you are experimenting and sharing and actually doing!!!
I have not seen the final on this and look forward to that. LOVED your video and finals done with the iphone. You are something Lee and you actually inspired this old dino!

Nice video please keep them coming.

Try focus stacking for those out there with less powerful flash heads as you won't be able to get down to F36.

What is focusing stacking?

Read more here:

They say when you can light products and food you can light anything.



Great video here. Lots of work for the final image, but if you're happy with it, that's what matters (or as long as the client is, depending on the case).

Good work

Nice fake Daytona!

clearly a fake Daytona

It would have been nice to use an authentic Rolex for this photo shoot.

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