Credit owed where credit is due: I developed my approach to naturally lit wine bottle product photography using this educational video by photographer Karl Taylor.
After a business partner of mine recently asked me lend a hand in creating wine bottle photographs for a new website they are launching, I set about watching instructional videos on how images like that are created.
With the skill set of an amateur photographer (emphasis on amateur), some low-cost tools of the trade, and my iPhone 11 Pro Max, I was able to shoot the bottles successfully without the use of professional lighting.
That’s my rig, above, in our kitchen dining room. See the video in the link for how it works.
The white poster board (purchased from a local arts supply store) was ideal for creating my “light box.” But the key to getting the “clean” shots was a used Lastolite 33″ Tri-Grip Diffuser that I picked up curbside from a local camera and photograph shop. You can see the diffuser to the right.
Another key element was eliminating any light from behind the camera. I did that by covering the window in our kitchen door with a blanket.
As per the video, I changed the aperture on my iPhone camera and used my Apple Watch to trigger the shot (that made a huge difference in the final product). In the video, Taylor uses a professional-grade trigger. I found that my Apple Watch, “paired” with my phone, worked great for this.
As Taylor writes in his blog post: “No studio lights? No problem!”
One last crucial element was creating the right “table” for the shots. I did that using a smaller piece of poster board (luckily my library, the possession I’m most proud of, offered an ample selection of books for setting up my rig and mounting the table).
Ever since online platforms and digital media became a sine qua non tool for wine marketing and sales, bottle photography has been one of the field’s greatest challenges for wine professionals. The lack of professional training (as in my case) and the high cost of professional lighting and the skills needed to implement said lighting have been seemingly insurmountable obstacles in my quest to obtain clean, professional-looking “product” photography. Until now… I hope others will find this post helpful.
Be sure to check out Taylor’s blog post and video.
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