written by: awilliamsku•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/5/2009
As you flip through magazines, you always come across those beautiful perfume ads. If you were ever wondering how photographers make it look so easy, read this guide on photographing perfume bottles.
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Although it may not seem like it, photographing perfume is a very complicated process. Especially if you want your end result to resemble that of a perfume ad in a magazine, you need the right balance of lighting, angles, and equipment.
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The right lighting can either make or break your shot. The perfect amount of lighting can highlight intricacies, while too much or too little light will highlight flaws. As a photographer, it is your job to create a set-up that best suits your perfume bottle. If the bottle is simply round, you'll have a much easier time photographing it. If the design is complex, you'll be dealing with a lot of shadows and reflections. Every bottle is unique, so it is your job is to use lighting to your advantage to rid the pesky reflections. Be sure to avoid using the camera on your flash, you want the picture to have a natural light to it. As for exposure, I suggest using an aperture of f/8 since it's the perfect amount of lighting.
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Most perfume bottles have the name of the perfume or the company it was manufactured by on the bottle. Usually, the font of the text is in white or black. Shooting a perfume with black text is usually no problem, but photographing a bottle with white text is rather difficult. This is why you need to have your bottle facing the light in a way that you can still read the text and have the rest of the bottle visible with perfect definition from shadows. Using a light box will help with this issue since it helps reflect light and you have more control of where it does and doesn't touch the bottle.
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If you don't have good lighting or just-right angles, the color of the perfume bottle will be off. This is a problem especially if you're submitting or using this photograph in a magazine. Make sure that the color of the bottle and the fragrance inside the bottle are as close as you can get them, if not on spot. If you're having trouble, use color gels. Color gels will enhance the color of the perfume bottle in case it seems too white.
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Not everyone has a photography studio available to them at all times. Making an at home studio is easy, especially for smaller objects like perfume bottles. Creating a makeshift structure, like a light box, will make shooting your perfume much less complex. You can use flashlights from around the house and random overhead lighting sources. You will also want to work with color gels, which are colored acetate sheets, or colored overhead transparent paper, that alter the color of lights. You can find color gels in most photography stores or you can make your own. Invest in a good digital SLR camera, a macro lens and a photo editing program.