Photographing Clear Liquid Bottles (Gin/Vodka)

In this product photography workshop, recorded LIVE, Karl shows you how to light and photograph bottles of clear liquid such as gin or vodka.

Follow Karl step by step as he shows you how to photograph clear bottles like a professional and achieve truly stunning results.

Simple steps for photographing clear bottles:

  • Prepare the bottle – This includes cleaning the bottle and creating controllable condensation
  • Select the background and base surface – These will have a big impact on your overall image
  • Light the product – This can be done using just a few lights with basic modifiers
  • Photograph the bottle – Determine your composition and camera settings

Karl demonstrates how to achieve perfect condensation to create that cold, desirable look. He explains which backgrounds and base surfaces work best, and how to light the product beautifully using just two lights. He also shows you how to incorporate additional lights to further enhance your shot, highlighting the label and reducing unwanted shadows.

You’ll learn a host of pro-level clear bottle photography techniques that you can easily and effectively try out for yourself.

If you enjoy this class, check out our Whisky Photography and Wine Bottle Photography classes. You can also find tips for creating your own perfect condensation in The Perfect Pint and Condensation Cold Look.

Questions? Please use the comments section below.


  1. Hey Karl how are you man? I just finished all the bottle shoot videos and I’m ready to start doing it myself but I got stuck with the basic thing of preparing the bottle. I’m in Brazil so I can’t find some products by the name in English the glucose it’s hard to find here so I’m thinking about replacing it with glycerin (if you tell me it’s ok of course). But the artist vanish I can’t even imagine what that is. Can you tell me what is the main use for it? Then maybe by the original use I can find it or find a replacement

    1. Ok I can’t delete the comment lol. I will blame it on my bad English lol… It’s varnish and not vanish… but about the glycerin can be used instead of the glucose?

    2. Hi, glycerin won’t work as it doesn’t set hard. You will find glucose or corn syrup in any shop that sells stuff for baking and making cakes. Artists varnish is used by artists for protecting their paintings so any good art store should have this.

  2. Hi Karl,
    Ciroc Vodka bottle have had problems with painted lettering on backside of the bottle. Would you please create a video using the Ciroc Vodka bottle and how best to remove the backside lettering and how to properly do the lighting.
    My best result was bottle laying down on white board and low spot light shooting across it creating strong shadows with interesting blue shadow from the bottom of the bottle. Shot looked good but the letter on the back is a problem. Did use a knife, sandpaper, neither one removed the lettering.
    Your classes are great.

  3. Hi Karl, thanks for the informative lighting class for transparent products.
    I am yet to finish looking at the the entire video, but curious about a few things like
    1. Why was the surface on which the bottle is placed chosen to be so low?
    (Isn’t it easy to shoot on a higher surface, approx waist height, so that you don’t have to bend down and struggle composing the shot looking into the camera. That is why the bottle must be tilted in the first attempt)
    2. Wouldn’t composing this shot in the live mode of the Capture one software using the grid lines made this easier?

    1. Hi Sanket and thank you. 1. Just so it makes it easier for our camera man to see the products and film. 2. Yes that would also work and is something you will see me use in other videos.

  4. Hello, Karl! Thank you for your tutorials! They are really great! I have a question about background, I know that you mentioned the answer during webinar, but my English is not perfect and I didn’t catch it. So could you repeat it for me in a written form?

    Why we use frosted acrylic for the back ground? Is it possible to use the same material for the background like for diffusers? I use for diffusers savage translum backdrop. What is the advantage of using frosted acrylic instead of savage film?

  5. Hi Karl,
    Thanks for this great video, I come up with a question, how or what is the best way to photograph a transperant cosmetic bottle which has been written on the front and the back of it ?

    I tried to light it from the back as it’s trasperant but the photo shows all the writings from the back and front overlapping each other, so could you please help me ?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. I forgot to mention, there is no label; the texture is directly on the front and the back of the bottle,

      Thanks in advance.

      1. Hi R, It’s quite simple: you currently have writing on the back of the bottle and you don’t want it there. So you have to remove it with a sharp blade and methylated spirits. If it doesn’t remove then you have to insert something inside the bottle to disguise it. But if you are shooting this for the client then you ask them to provide you with a blank bottle for you to shoot that only has the writing on the front.

  6. Hi Karl thank you for your great tutorials. I’ve got a question: If you had to decide to buy one thing: would you say you are more flexible with an acrylic mirror or would you buy a shiny black acryl plate? Best regards from Germany, Alex

    1. Hi Alex, thank you. I’m afraid I don’t quite understand the question? Black gloss acrylic or Acrylic Mirror? To use for what, do you mean a base surface for products to sit on? If that’s what you mean then I photograph more things on gloss black than on a mirror but the acrylic mirror is also good for a reflector for other shoots.

      1. Hi Karl, you are right. My question was not very specific. But you answered exactly what I wanted to know. Thank you very much!


  7. Hi Karl

    A 3mm white opaque acrylic glass would also be fine as a background ?????


    1. Hi, not if it is glossy as you may get reflections from this. As I was telling another members the frosted version is best as it is Matt finish.

      1. Thanks Karl

        Could you send me an example for reference, or a link where I can buy it?

        Thanks in advance

        1. Hi, I’m afraid I can’t other than you conatact a company similar to Barkston Plastics who can provide you with samples of the acrylic materials they manufacture or stock. Most sign service companies also hold sample ‘chips’ of various acrylics that can be ordered.

  8. With the acrylic sheet the supplier has a couple of choices, they are clear frosted Acrylic or Opal Acrylic sheets which one is best ?

    1. Hi, if it’s for the background then the frosted is better because it has a matt finish which reduces any chance of your lighting being reflected on it. If it’s for lighting a subject as a diffuser then I find the opal better.

      1. Thank you for the reply, can I clarify, for the clear drink bottles with the perspex behind the bottle standing vertically with the light shining through, is frosted or opal better

        1. Hi, the one behind the bottle is frosted which is better because it is matt and therefore it reduces reflections off of the surface back into your camera from your other lighting.

      1. Hi there,
        I’ve been looking for an acrylic sheet here in Germany like the one you use. I’ve found different porcentages of light transmissions and also different colors. Regarding these two things, what do you recomend?

        1. Hi, I get asked this question a lot but I’m afraid I don’t know the transmission values of my acrylic as I have many different types and it never really seems relevant as I just increase or decrease my light source. I have 3mm and 5mm acrylics, some are white opal and some seem more transparent than others and I also have frosted acrylics in 3mm and 5mm and obviously the 3mm lets more light through than the 5mm. I simply adjust my lighting to suit as long as I get a ball of light then it’s good and I use the technique shown in these classes to make the corners a different exposure.

  9. Jens Mueller

    Hi Karl,

    please could you help me choosing the right Plexiglas for this setup?

    I ordered samples and made this short comparison. Hope this may help some of you, too.
    A (left) is “6mm PLEXIGLAS® WH10 DC weiss satiniert, Lichtdurchlässigkeit 70%”
    B (right) is “8mm PLEXIGLAS® satiniert Milchglas”

    I’d say it is the left one (A). 🙂
    Thank you very much for your help!

    best regards,

  10. Hi Karl, bit of advice if I may, you’ve shot clear bottles and also red wine bottles but nothing with white wine bottles which are green and a little see through, any tips and tricks? It’s a pack shot only so needs to be on a white background and perhaps a product shot on white background with a glass of bubbly next to it.

    1. Hi Jason, this is something we’ve been asked about by several other members so I am going to include a new live show on that this year and add it to our schedule.

  11. Could you use a $15 snoot for the label and mask out the excess light in Photoshop if you don’t have a $1500 picolight?

    1. Hi, yes you can in fact in other classes we show using a snoot as an alternative, you can also be clever with your snoots by holding grids in front of them to further reduce the exposure area.

  12. My engineering curious mind is wondering if, there is an advantage to having a concave scrim. Would the wrap around light on the bottle be enhance ?

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