On the black art of wine bottle photography

Reflective objects. Some photographers love them. Some love them a little less.Every bottle is a lens and a mirror all at once. Photographing lenses and mirrors comes with its own set of special challenges. Transmissive reflective objects really sort the sheep from the goats! Reflections of the photographer’s workspace, whether that be the studio or location look bad to us. The curve of the bottle very effectively brings the reflected scene into sharp focus, distracting from the key feature of every bottle; the label artwork.

We take the whole reflection thing very seriously. No really we do… if there was some way we could photograph bottles without seeing the light, you know with x-ray or infrared, trust me, we’d be doing it. We harbour a distaste verging on the pathological for those hard edged, bright slicks of light you see in most bottle shots. But illumination is a must so we’ve cooked up a rig in our lab that delivers very soft bottle lighting – just the way we like it. It’s as if your bottle is being lit by interstellar dust. Kind of.

Stella Bella Muscat
Back on earth we have a few other little problem solving tips up our sleeves. Whenever we shoot bottles we ask that you bring us samples that have the seams at the side of the bottle. A bottle seam running through the label is bad news particularly if your label has some foiling.When selecting bottles for photography pay attention to the orientation of the cap in relation to the label. Cork capsules can be spun to align with the label. Stelvin closures can’t be spun in real life without opening the bottle. You probably new that though. Can’t find a stelvin lid that aligns perfectly? Not to worry, a little retouching will see Mr Stelvin’s tie straightened.

If your label doesn’t change from one vintage to the next talk to us about using the magic of pixel punishing to provide you with a set of bottle shots that will see out the decade.

Label designs featured in this post are from top to bottom;

Stella Bella by Steve Boros of Braincells
Fermoy Estate’s Ton Schulten Collection by John Pallett
Vasse Felix rebrand by Studio Bomba
and Frankland Estate by Steve Binnie of First Nature Design