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Creating a Photo of Nail Polish Bottles in a Swirling Splash


For a recent project, I was tasked with creating hero images for a cosmetic brand. They commissioned me to work on several different shots for a range of nail polishes they are looking to market. I was put in charge of coming up with the creative angle and had the freedom to explore and execute the final result. The client was open to any suggestions or ideas, and I had fun putting it all together.

My vision was to keep the design simple yet unique and deeply orientated towards the brand and product on show. Nail polish bottles are generally small objects and require slightly different treatment than, say, photographing a large carry bag. The bottle needed to be centered and close up enough to capture the logo and brand name.

Each bottle was cubed-shaped, with a matte-pastel color, the same as the gel nail polish inside. The lids (bottle tops) were long, frosted-gold colored. This color really illuminates the final image and casts long diagonal lines as the viewer follows it up.

The Setup and Using Splashes

As this project is not a single image, but rather a series of images, I tried to create something that flows like a story. After brainstorming and running through different ideas, I found a particular genre of still life photography to be most suitable.

Splash photography is the art of capturing liquid in motion. Splash is a classic genre, and it is popular to take splash templates and use them as backgrounds or additions to your image. It does require some knowledge of Photoshop and other editing software to manipulate. I chose to create a splash specifically for this project rather than use take advantage of existing ones from other artists.

I experimented with several different liquids, from organic to synthetic mixtures. I was looking for a consistency and fluidity that fit the brand and idea. Eventually, I settled with a classic, white acrylic wall paint. A water-based solution worked best for this project. Pouring the liquid by hand from a raised position into a container below, I hoped to capture interesting patterns.

The setup was a standard white background positioned not far behind the table. On the table, I had a container to catch the paint as I poured it from above. I repeated this pouring step multiple times until I found some splashes worth editing and merging with the nail polish bottles.

Then, I shot the products separately. This particular project required more post-production editing and other software, like Photoshop, to achieve the final results.

The Result

The client and I agree that the final results are satisfying.

The elegance of the brand complements the creativity and flow of the photograph. The splash and the still life photograph were well received online.

P.S. I’m giving away my splash photos for free. You can receive a download link for the files if you sign up for my mailing list.

About the author: Martin Pitonak is a still life photographer based in Slovakia and available worldwide. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Pitonak’s work on his website and Instagram. This article was also published here.