Claudia Montano has worn many different hats throughout her creative career, from baker to travel blogger. However, her love of photography has always shined brightly.
When the pandemic stifled Claudia's passion for solo travel and outdoor adventures, she brought her love of photography indoors. She set up a studio in Cornwall and shifted her focus to product photography through her personal brand, Those Moments of Mine.
Claudia has found her calling creating images for many global brands, but particularly those in the beauty and skincare industry. Her signature aesthetic is serene, feminine, and minimalistic, with a focus on artistic shadow and textural elements.
As Claudia evolved her own aesthetic and experimented with new techniques she began sharing her learnings on TikTok where a large audience now tune in to learn from her experiences. One of her product photography videos creating texture in water has even clocked up nearly 2 million views! Claudia is now taking her knowledge sharing to the next level helping other aspiring product photographers through her 1:1 online mentoring sessions. This definitely seems like a natural progression for this highly personable and lovely natured creator.
We were lucky to virtually chat with Claudia and delve into her photography career so far. Scroll down to meet Claudia and be inspired by her creative processes.
Welcome Claudia! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Claudia, a creative daydreamer with a passion for all things photography! My family immigrated to England many years ago, and I’m a part of the first generation to be born outside of our wonderful Italian/Sicilian homelands. I grew up in Bristol, and now live along the blustery coast of Cornwall, where I have my own little studio space! I’m a bit of a social media addict, and you’ll always find me scrolling for inspiration.
How did you get started on your creative journey as a product photographer?
I’ve always dabbled in photography, and have had a camera in my hands ever since I was 10! My parents had to buy me my first ever digital camera at 12 because I was costing them a small fortune in film development – also a little hint at how old I might be!
From there my obsession with capturing moments grew, and in 2011/12 I began shooting for Samsung’s marketing department; specialising in macro photography. Macro was a big love of mine for many years; I always think it’s so magical to see a tiny world up close!
As I moved into my twenties my photography merged with my love for travel, and I began working with tourism boards and travel companies across Europe. I created beautiful landscape imagery, often with myself as the main focus as a ‘content creator’.
When the pandemic hit, and travel came to a grinding halt, I had to rebuild my work-life! It took me a moment (two months of Netflix & snacks) to have that light bulb moment of ‘hold on, I can shoot skincare’! During the first lockdown I’d become a little obsessed with skincare and all of the science and ingredients behind each product… and so things naturally progressed from there (really… it was non-stop skincare videos)! When I hosted the amazingly fun ‘Water Hacks Challenge’ with Creatively Squared, I was only 1.5 years into ‘thosemomentsofmine’ – now I’ve hit almost 3 years… and I’m still just as excited to see my skills and creativity develop and grow.
What are some things people might not know about you?
What equipment do you currently use for your product photography?
My kit is fairly simple right now, and it’s something that I’m ever-looking to improve. I’m currently using the Sony A7iv and their 28-70mm kit lens (not the greatest lens!), as well as Tamron’s 17-28mm - but that’s more for capturing travels and astrophotography. Next on my ‘to buy’ list is absolutely a 90mm macro lens.
I have a completely unbranded tripod that’s travelled the world with me. It’s fairly heavy duty and works wonders during a shoot! I do have a far sturdier (and older-than-me) Hama tripod, which I pair with a tripod arm when I need those overhead shots.
Claudia shows us some easy techniques to create visual water effects in your home studio using simple movement or drops, a hairdryer and pouring from a jug. Source: @thosemomentsofmine
Tell us more about your lighting setup.
My eyes don’t love flashing lights so I stick with my ever-trusty constant lights, which is a mix of one powerful Godox SL150ii and one very simple, unbranded softbox. I often make use of the natural light from my studio windows too! Artificial lighting is such a dream when you’re living in England, especially during the winter as the weather isn’t always clear and sunny.
This doesn’t mean that you have to rush out and buy expensive lighting though! I started with only natural light! It can be a little challenging when you need the light to be consistent, but you can create some incredible imagery with different types of natural light.
Do you have any advice to share with aspiring product photographers?
I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my work from when I first started shooting products, and so honestly practice really is key. Whichever field you intend to move into (product, travel, fashion… ), practice is how you learn, grow, and develop your skills – both for editing and shooting! It’s also the best way to build your initial experience and your portfolio.
Before I launched ‘thosemomentsofmine’ I was shooting daily/weekly simply to practice. Working within a studio space and creating commercial content is so very different from my years of travel and landscape experience, and so I had to develop skills for product photography and a whole new style of appropriate editing. This constant practicing also allowed me to figure out which products Ipreferred shooting.
Your behind the scenes videos are very popular on TikTok, any advice for TikTok creatives?
TikTok is such an enigma. One day I’ll do great, the next week I’ll suffer the wrath of minimal views. If you aren’t using TikTok - surprisingly the app is not all about dancing! I find it can be a great source of education and inspiration; for example, when sharing videos, I find the ones that tend to do a little better are the ones that people can learn from.
I share behind the scenes moments from my shoots, and pair them with a helpful voiceover, or occasionally share simple tips that I implement within my own product photography. TikTok is certainly not about the posting time and all those tricks of Instagram, but more the content you are sharing.
One of Claudia’s many water hacks shared on her TikTok. This one has clocked up over 1.7million views, see it here for yourself! Tip: The serene green colour is achieved using food colouring - one of the perks of having previously been a baker. Source: @thosemomentsofmine on TikTok
How do you keep learning and evolving your skills?
YouTube is a great tool for learning about gear/kit and all things editing; it’s such a fast and free resource. Each time I need to research a camera or lens, I turn to YouTube. If I’m facing an editing issue, I search through YouTube.
Evolving and improving on your creativity is definitely a different challenge, but I find that the more I shoot the more I see what I need to improve on. Since our Water Hacks Challenge I’ve wildly improved on my lifestyle and more natural set-ups, and I feel my work is looking far more polished and professional.
I find that inspiration is also a huge part of evolving your skills. As you naturally start to follow other creatives/photographers you may spot a prop or backdrop that you’d love to utilise, or maybe they’ve shared an amazing hack that you can already envisage adapting into your own style – finding inspiration absolutely encourages your creative eye and styling skills to ever-evolve (just remember, taking inspiration does not mean copying!).
Who inspires your own work?
Whenever I’m feeling a little block you’ll find me endlessly scrolling away on Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration, and I’ve absolutely found some incredible photographers like @chicleconnueces, @revisededitionstyle, and @epn_product.photography.
I also find foodie photographers to be beyond artistic, it’s something I could never shoot! Some examples are @donnacrous, @thekitchenmccabe, and @violaminerva.
What are your go-to props to use in your product styling?
What is next for you?
I’ve been working on incorporating a few other niches into my portfolio, and I’m also working away behind the scenes on a new project that I’m excited to release. I have been working on it for some time, but us creatives often get side tracked with oodles of incredible projects and our personal ones take a little bit of a back seat.
I had also been offering 1:1 mentoring sessions for beginner/intermediate product photographers at the start of the year, and I’m hoping to offer more of these sessions throughout the summer.
Thank you Claudia for creatively chatting with us and inspiring us with your imagery and creative ways. We are looking forward to that course too! Continue to be inspired by Claudia’s brand photography from Those Moments of Mine and tips on Instagram and TikTok. Follow Claudia’s adventures through Perfectly Claudia for wanderlust inspiration.
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