‘How To’ Shoot Red Wine, Professional Photography

Karl Taylor Professional Photography Knowledge, Still Life Photography 14 Comments


When we think about red wine we think about the colour red and warmth. But there is virtually no red visible in a glass or bottle of red wine, so the trick is to invoke the feeling of red and warmth into the shot.


Good product photography is often about invoking an emotion that suits the product or enhances it. So for this shot I built a simple set that would help invoke the emotion and warmth. The props were a walnut table top with a nice rich colour and wood grain, some old brown rope one hanging in the back and one on the table. Then a brown mottled background, I used a roll of leather but it could have been a painted canvas. Then of course the bottle and wine glass, which I chose to shoot at a very shallow depth of field just to isolate the bottle and label in the shot.

Once I had established a comfortable composition the next part is about creating the mood through lighting. This lighting set up uses several lights and modifiers so that I can carefully control the desired atmosphere.

The bottle is lit from my left with a large 120×180 softbox but this is softened slightly through LEE filters diffusion material to reduce the hard white edge reflection on the bottle. This light as you can see illuminates the entire bottle and the glass from my left. A carefully placed small white reflector throws some light back onto the shadow side of the label.

Notice the red glow on the glass and on the right side of the bottle, this is obviously completely unnatural but I used it to create the element of ‘red’ that is missing from red wine. I used a red gel on a P70 reflector shone through some diffusion material to achieve this.

To further isolate the bottle and glass I created a soft pool of light on the wooden surface around the bottle and glass. This was done with a honeycomb on a P70 from directly above.

The shallow depth of field allowed my table surface to blend smoothly into the background. This was illuminated with another P70 with a gel and grid shining up from below creating a glow of light behind the shoulder area of the bottle.

Finally a couple of Picolites were used to add some carefully placed illumination to the rope hanging in the background.

As with all good product photography lighting is key but you must give thought to the mood you wish to create before you start setting up your lighting. Know your photography lighting tools and then make them work for you.

Time for a drink, wine not?

Time for a drink, wine not?



Learn more about Karl Taylor

Karl has been a professional photographer for more than 20 years. His work is published internationally and he regularly works for some of the world’s leading companies. Click here to learn how Karl has helped hundreds of photographers improve their skills. If you want to learn more from Karl on polarisers get instant access to that and loads more tutorials then check out Karl Taylor’s FREE photography course here.

Comments 14

  1. Francisco Antonio

    – Fantastic tips, a very wonderful results, this is what I was looking for before start by myself trying to get a nice picture of wine.
    Thanks so much to share your knowledges so precious…

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      Karl Taylor

      Hi Eden, Partly experience but mostly in understanding light and the type of mood and emotion that different light conveys. Once you understand that then you need to understand which lighting tools can artificially convey that in a studio environment. Our introduction to photography course teaches you the basic of understanding light and then our pro courses such as Advertising, Product and Still Life Photography show you the lighting techniques for a variety of subjects.

  2. Keith Neumeister

    Absolutely FANTASTIC…as usual….The Vignette with the wood was remarkable…great piece of wood! I loved how the overhead light not only gave the vignette, but also enhanced the wood grain giving the picture that extra something special along with the rope. I’ve got a photo shoot at a winery this fall, and this gave me something to think about…

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  3. Dave the Gas

    Hey Karl.
    Love your tutorial on pucker lighting technique for the wine bottle.
    I,m currently doing Level 2 of C&Gs Photo Image Capture. Have just put in my first image (10 off) assessment themed on Still Photography. I have very influenced by your shots. Should I get through this year, I plan to carry on to Level 3 which should take me through to “professional level”. Keep up the good work. Regards, Dave.

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