Cosmetics Product Shoot

In this photography workshop, Karl attempts to bring his vision of a floating cosmetic arrangement to life in a highly complex cosmetics product shoot.

Cosmetics can be complex objects to light — they’re often small and can feature different textures. Taking the time to analyse your product is the first step and in this show you’ll see why this is so important as Karl shows you his process of setting up and lighting cosmetic products.

You’ll see each step as he explains the intricacies of such a product shoot and demonstrates how to overcome challenges such as how to light different surfaces of the products, how to control light spill around the set, how to secure the products in position and which lighting modifiers are the best for this type of product photography. To finish, Karl also shows you how to add dynamic, depth and leading lines by introducing additional elements and props to this product photography setup.

Regardless of whether you’re shooting lipsticks or skin creams, this show will cover powerful techniques for photographing cosmetics, as well as useful tips for general product photography too.

In this live product photography workshop we cover the following:

  • How to photograph cosmetic products
  • Product photography lighting
  • Product photography tips
  • How to light multiple textures and finishes: Lighting matte, gloss, lustre and chrome surfaces
  • Lighting modifiers for product photography
  • How to create depth in a photo

Other cosmetic product shoot classes you may enjoy include:

If you have any questions about this show, please use the comment section below.


  1. Hi Karl. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question. It is much appreciated! I did re-watch the video at the times you suggested. What I understood was the first strip light was to get the bright separation edge at the back of the lipstick, and the second was to create a less-bright smooth gradation that wrapped around more towards the front. This left a small darker strip between the lights. I try to understand the “why” as well as the “how” in your videos. Was this dark strip left to add visual interest in the lighting pattern on the lipstick?

    My question of using the single larger softbox behind the scrim would be to eliminate that darker strip between the lights. In the video it appeared that the two strip lights were pretty much pointed straight at the diffusion scrim, so I was thinking a larger softbox would give a similar lighting pattern without the darker strip in between. Perhaps this would be at the expense of the bright edge at the back of the lipstick since you would now only have one setting for a single light instead of controlling the two seperately. I hope you didn’t think that when using the larger softbox that I would remove the diffusion scrim! I have watched enough of your videos to know not to do that!

    Much of my current challenge in product photography is figuring out what lighting and props would look good for a product in my head before I attempt to create it. Please continue to discuss the vision you have for your shoots in future videos as it is really helpful.

    I look forward to your videos because of the attention to detail you have and you have a very high quality standard. You have set the bar high and have been invaluable to my learning product photography.


    1. Hi Jim, thank you for re-watching that section. In answer to your first paragraph the answer is yes it was to create more visual interest, my job is to create more three dimensionality in what will be a two dimensional representation. By using different levels of exposure in this way I have more freedom to create this. If it was one softbox I could not control the brightness of each area separately, although even with one softbox I could create the black strip by simply inserting a black card in front of part of the softbox. The figuring out what looks right and what will work does largely come from experience and training your eye but obviously a platform like this can help you understand that. I’d also recommend viewing as many top level product photographers work as you can to study it and try to consider why they made the decisions they did. There are a good selection for you to look at here – All the best Karl.

  2. Hi Karl! Another great tutorial, I learned so much! With regards to the lipstick on camera left, where you used two strip boxes behind the scrim, why did you choose to use two narrow strip boxes versus one larger softbox that would fill the entire are between the strips? I realize you would lose the slightly dark strip on the product between the two light sources but would like if you could elaborate on that decision.

    1. Hi Jimmy, thank you. I would ask you to watch again please from 46:30 to 48:30 and then see if you have the same or similar question.

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