Working to a Brief 2: Wine Bottle

For our second ‘Working to a photography brief’ challenge, Karl has provided members with a new photography brief to execute. To take part in this challenge, please read the guidelines below and submit your image before 13:00 BST / 08:00 EDT on Wednesday 22nd July 2020.

All the details you need to complete the brief can be found below, as well as in the accompanying live show (we recommend watching this live show as it features additional questions from members that may provide further guidance). No further guidelines will be provided.

Studio portrait using umbrellas

Photography Brief - Challenge 2

Now available to watch on replay

In this live show Karl outlines a brief for a wine bottle shoot, explaining what is expected for the final image.

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The Brief

You are required to create an advertising-style image of a bottle of red wine which could be used in printed promotional material*.


Produce a clean, simplistic image that clearly shows off the product.


Bottle of red wine, brown base material.
Wine bottle sketch for photography brief
Visual sketch.

Image Layout

Please refer to the sketch above for the layout. The wine bottle should be in the centre of the image, filling the majority of the frame, but with sufficient space around the bottle for additional copy, should it be required.

The camera angle should be low enough that the bottle has an imposing, heroic feel, but there should be no distortion. Keystone correction may be required.

The horizon of the base surface should be very low in the frame and only just intersect the bottle.


The mood of the final image should be neutral, with slightly warm tones on the background and clean, fresh lighting on the bottle.


The bottle and label need to be clearly lit with clean, neutral lighting. This may be achieved using studio flash or natural light.

The lighting should be soft, with the key light coming from the left. A diffused reflection should clearly be visible all the way down the left-hand-side of the bottle, all the way from the cap to the base of the bottle. There should be a second reflection on the right-hand-side too. This does not need to be as diffused; it can be slightly more specular. Both reflections should reach to the bottom of the bottle.

There should be a slight gradation on the background, emanating up from behind the bottle to help separate the subject from the background.

Image titled ‘Mood 1’: Best describes the overall look and feel of the bottle as well as the position — the final image should look very similar to this.

Image titled ‘Mood 2’: Shows another example of acceptable lighting, with diffused light on the left and a harder, coloured light on the right, but the lighting in ‘Mood 1’ would be best. The camera height for this shot is slightly too high. No coloured lighting will be accepted and no props should be included in the image. 

Image titled ‘Mood 3’: Shows the reflection running from the top of the bottle to the base, but the mood and lighting style are incorrect. This image also shows the correct camera height relative to the subject. Also, no props should be included.

Wine bottle image by Karl Taylor
Mood 1
Wine bottle product photography by Karl Taylor
Mood 2
Rim lighting wine bottle by Karl Taylor
Mood 3


The bottle should be set against a mid to dark-grey background. Please refer to ‘Mood 1’ to see the exact colouration. The background should have slightly yellow tones throughout, with a graduated lighting.


The bottle of red wine should have a traditional shape, as shown in the sketch and reference images. The foil cap should preferably be red, and the label should be cream/white and wrap around to the edges of the bottle.

The bottle should be placed on a brown base surface (this may be wood, but it does not have to be).

The bottle and label should be sharp, but please note that the horizon should not be sharp.

Any dust/marks on the bottle should be cleaned prior to shooting or removed in post if necessary.

Brief Summary:

  • Red wine bottle with cream/white label
  • Brown surface
  • Grey background
  • Diffused light from left with additional reflection on right
  • Slight gradation on background
  • No specular highlights on the bottle
  • Reflections down to the bottom of the bottle
  • Clean, neutral lighting as per mood board
  • Slightly low camera angle with no distortion on bottle
  • Back horizon not sharp; focus should be on the label

*Please note that this brief is for example purposes only, for our members to learn from. This is not a professional brief and all requirements are purely for educational purposes.

© 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 13:00 BST / 08:00 EDT on Wednesday 22nd July 2020. These submissions will be reviewed by Karl in a follow up show on 23rd July.
To view the entry form login or non-members sign-up here to join Visual Education.

Recommended Content

To learn more about photography and commercial projects, below is a selection of content that you may find interesting. You can find a complete breakdown of the commercial workflow in our Business of Photography course, as well as various classes demonstrating how to photograph bottles in our product section.


  1. I think this is the way to really learn photography through this brief challenges, thank you for your time (and the team as well). Please keep teaching us. Regard´s.


    Firstly, after 6 years into my photography education, this is hands down the best learning course/platform I’ve seen/taken to date. Cudos on the content. It’s all first-rate.
    Moving to full-frame 35mm 4 years ago, I am well over G.A.S – gear acquisition syndrome. Does a new camera body excite me? No. A new lens? No. What makes me giddy as a schoolgirl are tools that make my workflow simpler. Two weeks ago I bought my first geared tripod head and now have no idea how I lived without one. Which brings me to this challenge. A big softbox!!! After watching the video twice and shooting a bottle 3 times with a 2’x2′ softbox as the key light, I see the all-around value of a large softbox and good quality diffusion material. The problem solving exercises continue… 🙂

  3. Would a 3d render be accepted as a submission (our studio is currently undergoing renovation)?

  4. A prize why ? attempting this brief to the best of your ability should be reward enough. But as a 81 year old amateur perhaps i have missed something.

  5. Hi Karl, In the video you state at 19.35 to use a red foil cap/top of bottle. However in the brief styling blog post you say any colour – could you please clarify which you are wanting. Thanks

    1. I presume ‘any colour’ per the written brief since in business the written “contract” is king just want to make sure I meet the brief 🙂

      1. Author

        Hi Cameron. I have just clarified with Karl and he would prefer a bottle with a red foil cap. This should now be more clear in the brief, so I hope this clears things up 🙂

  6. Karl, you’re more kind and generous than any professor I ever met. Had I asked my Physics professor for a prize after a quiz, I probably would have received a warm glass of shut the hell up. Tenure, I guess.

  7. A Lifetime Mentor Plan for the course would be nice,since we are here to learn…
    I hope this brief challenges continue with or without prizes because it’s a great way to learn.

  8. No prize this time? I think part of why the first one was successful was because there was a reward. It doesn’t have to be a Manfrotto or anything expensive. Just something to make it more exciting.

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