How to Photograph a Parfume Bottle by Lucia De Mosteyrin Munoz

When photographing a highly reflective object or surface, the size of the light source and consequently the light quality are crucial factors for the end result. This becomes even more critical when the object or the surface itself has a round shape, since it would act like a convex mirror, revealing almost everything that is around it. 

I had plenty of ideas when I first saw the shape and color of the perfume bottle. I wanted to play with its transparency, color and shape as well as apply a visible symmetry to the final look. Thus, after trying out a couple of options, I came up with the light set-up you can see below. Let’s break it down. 

I started off with what I considered the easiest part of the photoshoot, which was working with the transparency of the bottle and the color of the liquid inside. I wanted to highlight that purple on the final image and make it somehow glow, without altering the material itself. After putting the bottle on top of a thin but stable pole, which I would retouch and remove afterwards in postproduction, I decided to create a radial gradient for the background that could match the shape and the purple tone of the perfume by concentrating the light beam and adding color to it. This gave me already two direct hints: I needed a light shaper and an accessory that could help me create a hotspot in the center with a gradient towards the corners of the frame, and a purple gel in front of that light source. Hence, I used a Siros S 400 with a L40 reflector. I also attached barn doors with a purple gel filter to it. 

Since the light had to be spread across the background and therefore the whole frame, I placed a 100x100cm piece of plexiglass in between the Siros lamp and the Bottle. I also adjusted the height of the lamp to meet the position of the bottle, and therefore create the center of the gradient. The size of the hotspot depends directly on the position of the lamp in regards to the plexiglass: the closer the lamp is, the smaller the hotspot will be. Keeping this in mind, I placed it at a distance that allowed me to get what you see on the picture. 

This step also helped me already shaping the contour of the bottle. The tricky part started when I added additional lights to illuminate the sides and the front of the bottle, without diminishing the contrast nor the saturation of the color, while trying to focus on the symmetry aspect. The light source had to be big enough in order to illuminate the bottle from the bottom to the top, including the cap. Moreover, it also had to be symmetrical and meet the upper part of the bottle without making the surface of the liquid become an obstacle. That is why I used two other plexiglasses on the sides, in between the perfume and two other Pulso G lamps (one on each side), which had P70 reflectors and grids on it to help me control the light. Once again, the distance between the plexiglasses and the bottle as well as the distance between the lamps and the plexiglasses played a very important role in creating the symmetrical reflections you see on the sides of the perfume without compromising too much the contrast of the edges of the glass. The rest was mainly about adjusting the exact position of the cap to make the thin white lines on its edges as perfect as possible.

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