Photography can lead you into several directions. All creative, all unique (supposedly). And they all come with a certain set of rules.
Take for example product photography. Open any style magazine and you’re buried under adverts displaying -among others- watches. It’s such a big thing these days to have a massive, expensive watch.
In photography school we were taught how to properly photograph watches.
You know, photographers were way ahead of their time. Already well before the first official mentioning of a smiley face photographers were taught to put the pointers of a watch on 10 past 10 to create a smile and make the picture look positive. And that’s what we’re still taught.
Image courtesy Hamilton (ripped out of Men's Health November issue)
And when you keep an eye on it, it’s everywhere… EVERYWHERE! To the point that it’s annoying. 10 past 10. The magical time.
But that’s where most of the photographers stop thinking. Watch – photograph – 10 past 10.
But wait! What about…
If it’s not only a watch, but someone’s wearing it?
No matter… Watch – photograph – 10 past 10. It’s the golden rule.
Or is it?
Hehehe… The funny thing is, when people are wearing a watch, it’s not positioned the same as when it’s just a watch set up for a shot in a studio. It’s upside down.
But apparently this hasn’t occurred to most photographers. And they stubbornly set the watch to 10 past 10 on their models and shoot the shot, because that’s how they were taught.
Image courtesy Hugo Boss (ripped out of Men's Health November issue)
Image courtesy Chanel (ripped out of Men's Health November issue)
What happened to the smiley face? Of course… When people wear a watch, the watch is upside down, thus the smiley face turns upside down with it. And turns into a very unhappy face.
Little improvisation for photographers: if you shoot a watch while it’s worn by a model, set the pointers to 20 to 4 or 20 past 8, if that makes you more happy. The ad will end up a lot happier, at least. That I can assure you