How to Capture Professional Whiskey Product Shots with Only One Light

Photographer Dustin Dolby is back with a new no-frills product photography tutorials that his viewers have been asking him to do for ages: whiskey. In this walkthrough video, he takes you step-by-step through the entire process of capturing and editing together a professional whiskey bottle product shot using only one light.

Whiskey photography is one of the most popular sub-genres within product photography, but like any food-and-beverage photo, it can be tricky to get that beautiful, glowing-bottle-on-a-black-background look that you see in glossy magazines. Fortunately, it is possible to get this kind of shot at home, and you don’t need a ton of equipment to do it.

As usual, Dolby is using bare-bones gear. An old Nikon D5100 with the kit lens, a cheap Yongnuo flash trigger, and a single speedlight inside a strip box are all the “core” pieces of gear at his disposal. Other odds and ends include a light stand and piece of acrylic for his reflective surface, some diffusion material, and cheap piece of reflector.

The setup looks something like this:

As usual, creating a finished product photo using just one light requires some compositing. There’s no way around it if you want to get that classic product look with various highlights on the bottle and glass.

To that end, Dolby created the hero shot by taking several images with and without reflectors positioned to the right and behind the bottle, and the combined all of the various reflections and highlights into a single bottle-and-glass shot that you see below. Here’s the full set of images, followed by the complete composite at the bottom:

Check out the video up top for a detailed step-by-step walkthrough that explains every piece of this process: from setting up the bottle, to the various reflectors and diffusion materials used, to compositing the frames into a final hero shot in Photoshop.

And if you enjoyed this and want to learn more about capturing professional product photos using minimal gear, definitely give the workphlo YouTube channel a look. Dolby is one of the best sources online for this kind of work—whether you’re photographing glassware, cosmetics, or colorful perfume.

Image credits: All photos by Dustin Dolby, used with permission.