How To Perfectly Freeze the Action for a Pouring Beverage Photo

In this 13-minute advertising photography tutorial video from Workphlo, photographer Dustin Dolby explains how to perfectly freeze the action of a pouring beverage by using a simple three speedlight system.

Dolby says some of his favorite advertising photography involves motion, depicting a product coming to life. By using the three speedlight setup to flatter the background, beer can, and beer pint, photographers can capture a frozen motion pour. In the video, he shows how to pour for what he describes as an “over the top” pre-spill vibe, but it is still possible to apply this lighting to a more natural 45-degree pouring shot along with several other setups.

Starting with an entry-level DSLR, three lights, and a few light-shaping modifiers, Dolby explains that this setup is a simple and reliable one that allows the photographer to assure that the motion is carved out beautifully every time. Since most beverage images contain something glossy, he starts by setting up an 8 x 36-inch strip box from the side that will accentuate the glassware shape and that can be further refined and tweaked as needed.

Next, he adds a second speedlight strip box from above with a diffuser to create a soft overhead light for the can and a reflector to the opposite side of the beverage to try and recycle as much light as possible for the shot, and fully surround the drink with light.

Then as a final touch, Dolby adds a third light with a grid (and optional gels for a color splash) at the back to light up the wall in the background for an added aesthetic to further highlight the pour. This effectively completes the three-light beverage-pour system for advertising photography which Dolby says will return beautiful and consistent results when working with drinks. This is important to have a reliable system before pouring the liquids which he says “is just naturally chaotic.”

From here Dolby says it is just a matter of choosing the preferred angle for the beverage pours to get started capturing the action and making the picks for the best-looking pour.

To finish things up, Dolby then walks through a quick retouch and clean-up of the final image in Adobe Photoshop, detailing how he uses the curves, clone stamp, and healing tools to further refine the image for a proper advertising look and feel.

For more from Dustin Dolby, subscribe to his YouTube channel.

Image credits: Photos by Dustin Dolby and used with permission.