Creative Gin Photography – The Importance of pre-production.

We shot creative gin photography for Nicholson, and over the years we’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck in with the processes involved, especially with pre-production!

At the heart of any successful shoot is a range of creative leaders, directors, content creators and accountant managers that thoroughly organise, plan and curate the shoot. After all, ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance’!

Therefore, in order to fulfil a client’s brief we have to fully understand the concept and decide the ways in which it can be accurately achieved. For example, we always have to check if we have the right type of backgrounds, surfaces and props in order to execute the clients vision. Alternatively, we often need to order in specific coloured backgrounds, surfaces or props to accurately illustrate a concept.

In studio photography, obtaining the right type of surface and background can either make or break a shoot. A great background can help to tell a story and add extra contrast and texture to an image. For this recent Nicholson job, the shoot concept was all about the ‘Soho Glow’ with an atmospheric London inspired mood.

Mood boards for inspiration

In order to fulfil the nightlight urban scene, the obvious idea would be to shoot in a real life scenario on location such as inside a Soho bar. However, for complete lighting control over lighting, and for the most styling possibilities our studio is best choice. Our ability to think creatively about logistically was crucial in order for the shoot to be successful.

The client provided us with a mood board of images, which helped us to visualise the kind of aesthetic and mood we were required to create!

Sourcing the perfect props

The references immediately evoked thoughts of a dark, rustic, textured surface that might resemble an authentic Soho bar table, possibly in an outside area. We wanted to use a surface that had a bit of character, but with no obvious connotations and thought it best to make something custom.

With a little bit of thinking we had a great idea of visiting a local scrap yard that would obviously holds tons of recycled metal… the perfect place for us to find some steel. After a hunt we spotted a piece of metal that would be the ideal size for the shoot… although it weighed a whooping 100Kg!!

We had the local crew fish it out out with a giant magnet, and brought it back to the studio!

Often with big creative shoots, we like to have a few options for backgrounds and surfaces to experiment with, in order to finalise which one works best depending on the concept of the shoot. There is typically input from production, styling and the client, so surface choice is key on the day.

Although we have built up a fairly large collection of backgrounds, materials and surfaces over the years, it’s always good fun to venture out and source some more alternatives! For this shoot, we also went to a vintage shop so we could pick out some more unique treasures that we would perhaps struggle to find on the high street.

We came across a charcoal grey drink serving table that had a lovely mottled finish, which we felt closely matched the tone of the visual mood board. Additionally, we also hired in a nice wooden and black metal bar stool that was the ideal prop to create a bar scene.

Getting creative with DIY techniques

The next step of the creative process is to refine the materials and get even more creative with a little bit of studio DIY! This is the perfect way to customise props and add a finish that aligns with the concept.

As you can see from the images below, we used a sander to remove the rust coating on the steel, leaving it neat and tidy ready for shooting. We then rubbed in some black Hammerite; a metallic paint that protects metal and gives it a nice wax finish and shine. We also experimented with a blue torch to burn a piece of wood, to give more character and visual interest. We’d like to think that custom techniques like this are what gives our work that extra quality and uniqueness!

Another significant part of this shoot was our ability to reflect the ‘Soho glow’ through neon, abstract lights, accents of red tones reflected through different surfaces. This was quite a distinctive visual element that the client pushed for us to create. To explore this, we used a neon sign to reflect light onto surfaces and red bike lights to reflect light through ice cubes and into melted pools of water.

Below is a few behind the scenes snaps from the shoot!

Utilising the power of AI

We are extremely happy with the final creative gin photography images created with the brilliantly talented stylist Yvonne Achato, who helped us with the set and finer details.

We felt we achieved the Soho Glow concept really well, especially through creative lighting. Each individual image was carefully curated using multiple collateral images to light and accentuate each element in the shot.

The final touches to complete the series was refining the background to add atmosphere and further reflect the London bar scene. We felt this was the perfect opportunity to utilise our knowledge of AI, to generate some abstract neon backgrounds which could be integrated with our studio images. See below a series of backgrounds generated using Generative Fill.

AI Generated Background for Negroni Shoot

After a few adjustments in Photoshop, such as grading the edges, altering the perspective and experimenting with blend modes, we started to see the series come together… particularly the ‘Soho Glow’. The client was super pleased with the final images… which we were thrilled to hear! We look forward to hopefully shooting more with Nicholson in the near future, as well as progressing our work with AI.

Perhaps this blog has given you a little inspiration to design your own custom backdrops!

If you’d like to talk further with our studio team, get in touch today on 01202 280157, or email us at

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