How to create the table wrist shot

One of the styles of shots that has been popping up in my feed more and more lately is one that I call the "table wrist shot". Like a table shot, it hosts a wealth of depth as the lens follows a trail of aesthetic details toward the center piece – a beautiful watch. But unlike a table shot, the watch isn’t simply set on the table on display, but rather, strapped to the wrist of its owner – like a wrist shot.

“The beauty of the table shot is in the layers of depth it offers. This gives the shot a sense of dimensionality and makes it more immersive.”

How to recreate the table watch shot

The table wrist shot inherits the best of two worlds. It gets the visually dense composition of a cinematic table shot, while also gaining the engaging human subject that makes wrist shots so relatable. Not to mention that, as a viewer, it feels like you’re getting to sit across the table from some of your favorite creators, which really feels like a treat after two years of pandemic life.

For all its creative impact, I wanted to spend today’s tutorial breaking down how to replicate the shot for yourself. Enjoy!

This week's challenge

This week, show off your best table wrist shots! It’ll almost be like we’re all sitting across the table from each other. Don’t forget to tag #watchstudies to share them with the community!

Fundamentally, the table wrist shot is still a table shot. So for those who have seen my tutorial on that shot, you’ll recognize the setup and staging immediately.

The setup

With the use of a tripod (or another makeshift structure to hold your camera in place), you’ll want to set your camera up to be as low to the table surface as possible or at the eye line of the photo's "horizon". You, the watch wearer, will be sat across the other side of the table, while a field of beautiful props strategically fill the space between you and the camera.

How to create the table wrist shot

If you want to really accentuate the depth of this shot, open your camera’s aperture up to narrow the field of view. For those of you shooting with your phone, don’t panic – your phone's camera is more than capable at shooting table shots too.

I also like using an external monitor to help me get a better look at my shot. The ANDYCINE A6 Plus that I use even features a touch screen that lets me zoom into a specific spot, which is especially helpful for lining up the seconds hand perfectly. It also comes with a cold shoe so that I can mount my JJC Wireless Remote to it and attach the whole rig to my X-T4

As for the props, they're the usual suspects paired with some of my favorite household products.

How to create the table wrist shot

How to create the table wrist shot

How to create the table wrist shot


Here's an overhead view of the setup as we look at the staging of this shot together.

How to create the table wrist shot

Following the patterns set by the table shot, we can break the staging of our table wrist shot down into 3 parts: the foreground, the middle ground (focal point), and the background.

How to create the table wrist shot

The foreground (FG)

How to create the table wrist shot

The foreground constitutes the space between the camera and the watch. This is where you want to lay out a trail of items that help lead the eye toward the focal point. Most of these items will be fairly blurred and obscured, so you have ultimate flexibility in what you place there, as long as it looks good in the composition.

Finding a mix of solid items to shoot past and transparent items (like glassware) to shoot through will give you the best results. Look for items with contrasting colors too; while the details of the items may not be perfectly clear, their colors can still shine through and add a lot to the shot.

In composing your foreground, try to imagine the vantage point of someone who is pushing through a crowd to get a glimpse of something that lies ahead. There should be some sense of an “opening” as the items flank the sides, subtly framing the watch in focus.

Middle ground (MG) / focal point

How to create the table wrist shot

This is where you get to play arm, wrist, and hand model. Rest your forearm down on the table across the frame. The watch should be mostly centered in the composition so position yourself accordingly. Make sure to rotate your arm forward so that the dial of the watch faces the camera.

Your hand should be relaxed but slightly engaged and lightly flexed. No limp hands! If it helps, hold onto something like a pen, a mug, or your hopes and dreams.

Optionally, you can bring your other arm into the frame. This isn’t always necessary, though at times, it can help visually “complete the story” and help the viewer understand more details about your posture and position at the table. Of course, you’ll need the ability to put your camera on a timed shutter or a stealthy way to activate a remote while both hands are in frame.

Background (BG)

How to create the table wrist shot

Hopefully to nobody’s surprise, the background will be mostly filled with your upper body. Like with all my watch-related fashion tips, layering articles of clothing that have folds, textures, and interesting hardware will help visually elevate your shot. That said, if you want to stick to a simpler uniform, ensure that your lighting setup can still accent the depth and folds of whatever you’re wearing to give shape to your body.

All together now

Here’s another look at the finished shot with everything in the foreground, middle ground, and background in place. Not only does the table wrist shot let you tell a visually rich story it also leaves you a ton of space to keep the shot feeling fresh by changing up the props, watch, and fashion choices.


Your turn!

This week, show off your best table wrist shots! It’ll almost be like we’re all sitting across the table from each other. Don’t forget to tag #watchstudies to share them with the community!

Thanks for joining this edition of Study Club! If you enjoyed today’s tutorial, you may also enjoy this related content:

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