Wonderful Whisky Shot With Just 3 Lights

Want to shoot bottles like a pro? This condensed edit of one of our most popular live photoshoots gives you a 10-minute masterclass in product photography.

Setting the stage

To stage the shot, Karl creates a luxurious-looking surface using a coffee table top and a piece of slatted wood. Simple, affordable and effective!

Likewise, the background is merely a piece of hardboard, painted by hand and positioned using stands and clamps.

For maximum three-dimensionality, Karl positions his camera lightly off to the side of the bottle. Then it’s time to start lighting the shot.

Preparing the background

Setting the bottle on the DIY worktop, with the painted background in place

Light one: softbox with scrim

As the shoot gets underway, Karl adds his first light: a vertical softbox placed behind a scrim. With the scrim positioned as close to the product as possible, Karl and Ashley begin moving the light around to get the perfect spread of soft light on the bottle.
Positioning softbox with scrim
Positioning the softbox behind the scrim

The magic of gold card

The next trick is taking a piece of gold reflective card, sticking it to a piece of foam board to make it sturdy, then cutting it down to size. Specifically, it must be cut down in way that makes it invisible, but which maximises the gold glow refracting and emanating back through the whisky.

‘That’s it!” Karl says excitedly. ‘There’s the magic!’

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Light two: P70 with diffusion material

Now it’s time to add second light, a standard P70 reflector with barn doors and some diffusion material. This is the background light, which adds to the warm glow of the image.
Standard P70 reflector with diffusion
Adding the P70 reflector as a background light

A touch of glass

Next, Karl introduces a glass of whisky, complete with its own small strip of gold reflective card. As with the bottle, the card sends bright gold light refracting through the whisky in the glass.

Whisky Bottle Photography

Watch the full-length class to follow Karl step by step through this amazing shoot.
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Light three: studio lamp with grid

The third and final light shines down from above to further illuminate and isolate the product. It’s a simple studio lamp, modified with a tight grid.

Karl asks Ash to flag (i.e. block) the excess light spilling into areas of the frame. This improves the contrast and helps draw the viewer’s eye straight to the product. 

The final fashion image
Adding the third light to 'isolate' the product
The final step is to remove the bottle altogether to get an optimal shot of the glass. Then its time for some basic post-production to polish up the image.


And that’s it. A stunning product shot captured with minimal equipment and minimal effort – just a large shot of expertise with a chaser of creativity.

We’ll drink to that!

The final fashion image

© Karl Taylor

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