Working to a Brief 4: Earphones product shoot

For our fourth ‘Working to a brief’ assignment, members have been tasked with creating a product shot of a pair of earphones*. This challenge is open to all members.

Although the deadline for the submissions are now closed and we are no longer accepting entries,  you are welcome to still take part in it and tag us in your results! 

All the details you need to complete the brief can be found below, as well as in the accompanying live show. We strongly recommend watching this live show as it may contain some useful information and advice. No further guidelines will be given.

Each of the submission will be critiqued in the follow-up review and a prize will be awarded for the best executed and most 'on-brief' image.

Sketch of earphones for photography brief

Working to a Brief - Challenge #4

Thursday 7th January 2021 - 15:00 GMT / 10:00 EST

In this live show, Karl outlines a brief for an earphones product shoot, explaining what is required for the final image.
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The brief

You are required to produce an advertising-style image of a pair of earphones that could be used in print and/or online advertisement. The image should appeal to a broad audience, and therefore needs to be carefully styled and lit.


Produce a high-quality rim-lit image of a pair of white earphones that is sharp all the way through.


White earphones (wireless or not wireless), dark background.

Sketch of earphones for photography brief
Art director's sketch

Image layout

The sketch above illustrates the desired layout for the image. The earphones, positioned slightly to the left of the shot, should fill the majority of the frame. The shooting angle should be from slightly below, to create a sense of importance.

The wires (if there are any), should lead the eye up from the lower-left corner of the image (as shown in the visual) and hang down and not be too rigid/straight. There should not be too much wire visible, and it should be neatly arranged and not look messy/untidy. If shooting wireless earphones, there should be some space under the earphones.


The overall mood of the image should be somewhat edgy, yet sophisticated. Overall the product should invoke a sense of quality and desirability.


A clean and pure feeling light should be used to light the product. No light on the background is required.

To ensure the earphones stand out, there should be visible rim lighting around the product to define its shape and aesthetics. The characteristic of this light, whether sharp or graduated, is up to the photographer and some creative freedom will be allowed.

The images below provide examples of the lighting, but please refer to the visual to form your own interpretation. The ultimate goal is to depict luxury and desirability.

Sketch of earphones on black background
Art director's sketch on black background

Mood 1 best describes the overall lighting as well as rim lighting. However, there should be no background light.

Mood 2 describes the rim lighting required, but overall the image is too dark.

How much light is added to the shadow side of the product is open to your own interpretation.

Example of cosmetic product with rim lighting
Mood 1
Example of wine bottle with rim lighting
Mood 2


The background should be pure black, with no visible features, patterns, or textures. There should be no additional light on the background. It is acceptable to add the black surround in post if necessary.


The earphones should be positioned slightly left of the frame, with some space above. The earphones should be positioned at a slight angle, but not more than 45 degrees.

The left earphone should show the back of the product and the right earphone should show the front of the product. Some freedom may be given regarding the rotation and angle of the product, as long as we see both the front and back of the product.

If there are wires, they should be arranged neatly and disappear out of shot at the bottom left. There should not be too much wire visible, and the wire should be shaped smoothly, either in-camera or in post.

The image should be sharp throughout, so focus stacking or tilt-shift may be needed.

Brief summary

  • White earphones
  • Black background
  • Clean, pure lighting
  • Rim lighting on the product (creative freedom will be given regarding the characteristic of the rim lighting)
  • Amount of front fill light is open to interpretation
  • Earphones positioned at a slight angle
  • The image should be in focus from front to back of earphones

*This brief is for example purposes only. This is not a professional commercial brief and all requirements are purely for educational purposes.

Please note all images will remain copyright to the original photographer, but Visual Education reserves the right to publish them within its website and on social media.

© Visual Education. All rights reserved. No content on this page may be used or shared by third parties.

Submit Your Image

The deadline for submissions is 14:00 GMT / 09:00 EST on 12th February 2021. These submissions will be reviewed by Karl, and the winner announced, in a follow-up show on 18th February.
To view the entry form login or non-members sign-up here to join Visual Education.

Recommended Content

Below is a selection of some of our past photography brief challenges. To learn more about photography and commercial projects, you can find a complete breakdown of the commercial workflow in our Business of Photography course.


  1. Thank you Karl for doing this. It is a brilliant idea to get us to apply various techniques.

    Can you please post the photos in that last folder from the crtique in a gallery much like you would do for the “weekly challenges”. I would like to compare and look at other people’s submissions to see different approaches than the one I used. I think there is much to learn from those images and it would be great to be able to refer to them.

    Thank you.


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