Photo Critique: Bottles and Beverages

This critique show focuses on a niche area of product photography, one that requires careful control of light and precise attention to detail: bottles and beverages.

Having shot these types of images for numerous clients, Karl shares his experiences as he gives his feedback on each of the images sent in.

In addition to highlighting the strengths of each image, Karl offers his advice for improvement and shares tips to overcome common challenges such as lighting gloss surfaces, illuminating liquids in different shaped bottles, and choosing backgrounds and props.

Additionally, on some of the submissions, Karl shows some simple Photoshop adjustments that could be used to enhance the shots.

Topics covered in this show include:
  • Techniques for photographing bottles & beverages
  • Bottle photography lighting tips
  • Composition tips & framing considerations
  • Controlling condensation on bottles
  • Suitable backgrounds for bottle photography
  • How to illuminate and enhance colour in liquids
  • Retouching techniques for bottle photography

To learn more about how to photograph bottles, make sure to take a look at our Bottles & Beverages course.

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comments section below.


  1. Hey Karl,
    Loved the critics and was wondering if u can tip me on a different set up.
    I have an ad wine shoot next week in which the wine will be laying on the surface .

    The camera will be set up on top view (like the flat lay video course) and since the wine is transparent (white/rose) I was wondering if i should add a reflector under the wine ?(as u do on your beverages shoots)

    I’m afraid that the outcome won’t look natural

    Thank’s in advance


      1. Thank you for that,
        For this assignment I won’t be able to make an hole in the surface which is going to be half textured wood and half black marble.
        Any suggestions in this case?

        1. Hi, there are only three possible options here. the first is to make a hole in the surface with via a professional or the right cutting tools as it is actually possible to cut through marble (and of course wood) without any problems, you just have to find out how to do it. The second alternative would be to use a different surface and the third point would be that you decide not to make a hole in the surface and use another technique which may involve the paper I spoke about or that and a combination of post production techniques. With commercially photography we have to be exceptionally honest about what is possible and what is not based on fact, it’s not often a case that it can’t be done it’s often a case that either the client or the photographer think that will be too difficult or expensive to do and then it is decided that it doesn’t get done and the project is compromised. The last link I gave you showed a method with a hole, this link shows you an alternative – and this link shows you what is possible with cutting – I understand that often it might not be worth doing for a competition or a critique but if it was for a commercial purpose it is important to get into the mind set that it can be done.

  2. A lot of the photos are having the same problem on how to handle the supporting cast…..should have a class on how to create a photo with the use of proper supporting actor. Lol

    1. Hi Karen, it’s always a common problem. The solution is always the same, is the message of the image clear? This is why I aim for utmost clarity in my images even if they are complex scenes I do everything I can to control the complexity and make the subject compelling enough that it wins your attention.

  3. Hi Karl. Listening to this show for the 2nd time. Your critiques are so true and thankful. I see why you say the criticism on my green apple Jim Beam photo done outside. I can assure you have learned a lot since then…. you are so close to saying my last name. It’s all good. ( Hoin key………Hoinke )…
    I really do enjoy your shows……

  4. Hi,
    My photo showed up dark. I believe my brightness is too high.
    What cd/m2 do you keep your monitor at? 120?

  5. Hector2683

    Hi Karl

    I wanted to thank you a lot for your constructive critiques. My image is 100% real, not 3D, though I do get that comment very frequently… I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not that my retouching style makes the images look a hybrid between real and 3D, but yes, that’s the comments I get very often.
    If you can, please let me know what you think: Is it a good thing, or a No-No thing?

    And I agree with you 100%, the Figs could be improved… and the leafs, lol, yes, they were fake… from the Dollar store. I couldn’t find any real ones, and I needed a shot for my IG post.

    So, once again, thanks a lot for your comments. It’s great having the great ones pointing the right path from time to time. πŸ˜‰


    1. Hi Hector, the images was very good but it was becoming borderline looking CGI as I mentioned in my comments. The only way to overcome this is to get more correct in camera with lighting so that less post production needs to be applied. However as I say your result was still very good.

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