Using a Prism to Light Product Photos
Posted on 31st January 2019 by Austin Gould

Photographer Benoit Pailley from Paris, France, has an affinity for light and the way it can be manipulated in photography. This is exemplified by a personal project he created at his photo studio in Spring of 2018.

This project is all about light, architecture, the way to see, and the way to light things. In his projects, Benoit likes to play with different dimensions of reality, and always has Plato’s allegory of the cave in mind.

Here’s our interview with Benoit Pailley about this project:

Who else worked on this project, and what were their names and job titles?

I worked on this project by myself; I work alone quite often. I prefer to work in silence without any conversations, background noise, or music.

What inspired you to do this project, or how did it come about?

I really like working with light: to sculpt things and atmosphere with light. It has the power to create architecture, so you can create your own world.

You've said that you, "always have in mind the allegory of the cave from Plato". Exactly which details/techniques from these images were inspired by that reference point?

In the allegory of the cave from Plato, what you see and what exists in reality are not the same. I like to create images where elements can lie to you and your mind must try to comprehend some idea of reality. You try to create your own truth.

So in this case, you try to understand what the image is about, and how the light is reacting with the elements and structure. You try to understand where reality starts and where it ends, due to the reflection.

Using the rainbow to light a set creates another dimension of reality. Rainbows exist because you see them but you cannot touch them. One could ask, “Does it really exist or not?” It’s just a physical effect you see from a special relationship with light and water.

Which dimensions of reality were you trying to play with, and how did you use the light to convey that effect?

I was not trying to play with a special dimension; it’s more of the opposite actually. I was trying to lose the dimensions altogether. You don’t know if what was photographed was small or tall, for example.

This effect comes from a special way to light using a prism in front of the light. This process creates a light diffraction where you can see all the wavelengths of the light and thus, create the rainbow.

What was the biggest challenge you faced on this shoot, and how did you overcome it?

In a funny way, the challenge was to play with the elements and to create the perfect harmony of light and color, but the painful part was not burning myself with my tungsten light… gloves are very useful for that. I have to be careful because sometimes I want to go fast because of my enthusiasm, and that causes me to move the light too fast without gloves.

What was your favorite part of this project?

My favorite part was playing with the light. The process is quite similar to light painting. You play with the source and when you get surprised by the effect you like, you start taking photos!

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

In this complex setup, there are 3 important elements that dance together:

  1. The prism
  2. The mirrors
  3. The light

It’s all about the multiple interactions between the specificities of each element.

To see all of Benoit Pailley’s photography, check out his portfolios on Dripbook !

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