Chanel Soap and Bubbles Shoot

Learn how to stage, light and photograph high-end cosmetic products for a clean, fresh ad-style image.

Karl has been wanting to do a shoot like this for a long time. When he finally gives it a go, it’s every bit as interesting, challenging and rewarding as he hoped. In addition to perfecting the key and background lighting, he has his work cut out lighting the clear acrylic rods correctly. You’ll also see him using a scrim, white foam-board reflectors, and a glue gun – not to mention a straw to blow bubbles! He even tries some splash techniques for good measure.

The creativity and precision on display in this class will inspire and equip you to push your product photography to the next level. Once you’ve watched this video, head to Chanel Soap and Bubbles | Post-Production to follow Karl step by step through his editing and retouching process. 

In this class:

  • Styling cosmetic products for photography
  • Lighting setups for cosmetics photography
  • How to use a scrim for product photography
  • How to use multiple studio lights
  • Perfect white background lighting techniques
  • Using reflectors in product photography
  • Using acrylic rods in product photography

If you enjoyed this class, be sure to check out High-end Cosmetics Product Photography and How to Make a Scrim.

It may also be useful to watch Helpful Studio Kit for Product Photography before tackling a shoot like this one.

Questions or comments? Please post them below.


  1. Hi Karl,

    I have a question. You are doing the measurements of light exposure in capture. You have marked a few points with value numbers. What tool are you using? I can’t figure out

    Thank you

  2. Gary Stasiuk

    Couple of questions..
    I’ve seen the work of a few photographers that balance a bunch of things together through improbable constructs.. many I’ve seen with various whiskey glasses and pours.. or more usually with beauty products, such as makeup or jars of moisturizers. With beauty products, in my mind, they seem to work, they make sense, almost like a pack shot. Generally, I don’t think twice at seeing those types of groupings. With whiskey it seems odd, but I have seen it used in real advertizing. David Lund comes to mind. The question is just how often have you had to produce a balancing act? Do clients or ad agencies drive this concept or is it just a fad driven by photographers..? Generally, I am referring to the improbable ones. Makes sense with the soaps. I learned several great points in this example. I might even suggest creating a few more unusual situations where white.. purity and lightness are important features of the set up.

    The second question is about the bubbles. Are they just shampoo and a bit of water and then blowing bubbles?.. Can you use liquid glucose to make them more resilient? Are you using any little trick to how they are made?

    1. Hi Gary,
      In answer to your question it actually happens a lot, I’ve had to find ways of supporting drinks, food, cosmetics, sunglasses and all sorts over the years. My preferred method is thin acrylic rods as they are transparent and light can get through them and they’re not too much hassle to retouch. The bubbles were from Shampoo which I thought we mentioned in the video? Anyway no there was no trick, Georgie just tested a few mixes, blowing bubbles with the straw and we stuck them on the soap.

  3. OK. – Thank you for offering us all the opportunity to follow your post-production work, including all the experiments on the way with various alternative solutions before making choices on how to proceed. It is very comforting to see how it is far from clear-cut to determine the course of the process, even for a professional with all your experience! And it is very instructive to hear your “thinking aloud” about the whys and hows of each step on the way.

    A great lesson again!

    Cheers, Hannu

  4. For realism, shouldn’t the two lower bars of soap cast a shadow on the surface of the thick rod between and under them?

    1. Hi Hannu, there wasn’t a shadow in the original shot as the acrylic rods are transparent, although there was a small reflection below one of the soaps. However when doing the post production work I felt the shot looked cleaner and fresher without it.

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