How You Shot It is a series where you show us how you shot an image. Many who use our presets love to share their special processing recipes. You can join the SLR Lounge Textures and Presets group on Facebook and share your favorite images and recipes as well! For our wedding and portrait photographers, please join the SLR Lounge Wedding and Portrait Photographers group.

Today’s post comes from David Hill, a photographer from the UK, who has only been shooting about 18 months. He specializes in portraits, but enjoys the challenge that different genres of photography brings such as interior shoots and in this case, products. This product shot was for his client, David Rogers who owns Vinegar Hill Pottery.

Pottery - final image

Background & Vision

I have known these particular clients for quite sometime. I have taken shots of their property and family. He contacted me wanting to update the images of his pottery portfolio. He is a local potter.

I approached the shoot by showing a number of product images to gauge a reaction to both picture style and post production techniques. It quickly became clear that there was a preference for a rustic, warm feel. By showing options, it quickly gets you to a point of being able to deliver the brief. It is also important to look at your surroundings as that quickly gives you a feel for someone’s taste.

My client had recently built a kitchen table that had the most amazing colour and texture to it. I knew that I would be able to process the picture to make the blue of the bowl stand out against the orange/brown table top. Knowledge of the colour wheel helped here too, where blue and orange are on the opposite sides making a ‘complementary’ combination.

I also felt it was important to include some props i.e. knife, fork and a napkin. I found that without the napkin, there was little to separate the plate at the bottom and the bowls.

Original Image

By taking some time to get the composition correct, I followed the simple rule of ‘fill the frame with the image’ to ensure that the detail and colour of the pottery was clearly visible. I took a few images before settling on this composition and camera angle. As a result, I haven’t had to crop this image at all saving time in post production.

Pottery original image.jpg

Lighting and Setup

We had to move the table slightly closer to the window to get the light that I wanted. My client was more than happy to be involved in the shoot and helped out by holding the diffuser to soften what would have otherwise been direct sunlight. I like the idea of your clients being involved. It somehow makes the shoot more personal.


 Gear and Settings

As we went through the shoot, it became very clear that my client liked images that had a shallow depth of field. Clearly it is important to show your images as you shoot to ensure you are creating what they want.

I ended up doing the whole shoot using just one lens, my Nikon 50mm f/1.4

My settings were as follows: ISO 200 with a 1/1250 sec shutter speed at f2. I shoot with a Nikon D700.

Post Production/Final Image

Pottery - final image

I use the SLR Lounge Preset system. This was my recipe for this particular shot:

Preset 22d – Neutral wash. Warm Cross.

Preset 53d – Desaturate light.

Preset 71d – Vignette light.

I then adjusted the highlights bar slightly and also brushed the very bright areas on the bowl to further reduce the highlights. So, once I had experimented with a few Preset options, I was where I wanted to be within a few clicks of the mouse!


Personally, I think it is very important to plan your shoot before you go. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve based on my knowledge of these clients and their tastes. I had visual aids of product images with me including some I knew they probably wouldn’t like. To me, this helps to reinforce what they do like. Make sure you regularly show images you have taken which ensures you are going down the right path. Also, involve them in what you are doing. Work in partnership!

You can see more of his work here or contact him at

About the “How to Shoot It” Series

This educational series highlights amazing images from our writers as well as our community. The goal is to not only feature inspirational work but to provide valuable education for our photography community. If you would like to submit your work, please click here for more info on writing for SLR Lounge.