The Art of Bottle Shots

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Over the past 15 years I think I’ve overseen at least 50 photo shoots for clients. Some are more fun than others. Sometimes, you have a client that is willing to put themselves into an ad or brochure and they don’t feel self-conscious. In fact they want to have fun. They take direction well. They listen to the photographer. The shoot usually doesn’t take to long under these circumstances.

But most photo shoots in my business are of simple bottles. And they are the most difficult subjects to control.

There is a lot to consider when shooting wine bottles. They are reflective objects. They are round, making it even more difficult. White wines are clear, so you have to control how the light moves in and through the bottle.

You can tell when the photo of a bottle was taken by an amateur. Look for the photographer’s reflection in the bottle. Look through wine magazines and the ads in them. You’ll be surprised how often you still see this.

This picture was taken by one of the best photographers in Northern California: Ed Aiona. Ed has been shooting bottles for years. He knows every trick. This particular shot is even more difficult because there are three bottles and their reflections to contend with. Two have clear liquid, one is opaque. I should have taken a shot of the lighting set up, the filters over the lights, the reflective material used to move light over the bottles. Notice how the reflections on the bottle (they are impossible to avoid) are consistent across all three bottles. Notice how the foil stamp on each bottle pops and are not washed out on any of them. It’s not easy work.

The point is this. Technology has made anyone with computer and photoshop a “graphic designer”. Digital cameras have made everyone a “photographer”. The creative industries have changed enormously has technology has opened the field to laypeople. Yet, there remains a vast gulf between the work of the professional and the work of those who frequent electronic stores and software emporiums.

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