Water Shot Photography Guide: 14 Tips on Making a Splash

It’s Wednesday, so you’ve probably seen a water shot or two floating around Instagram, maybe with the hashtag #watershotwednesday. You may be in awe of these fun captures and wondering how to incorporate them into your content. Well, look no further!

In this post, I’ll teach you all about how to take killer water shots. And if you’ve missed the earlier installments in my series on how to take popular skinsta photos, make sure to go back and check out my tips for texture tuesday and my guide to creating beautiful flatlays.

What is a Water Shot, and Why Are They So Popular?

Water shots are, quite simply, photos taken of a product with water splashing around it/on it or of a photo being dropped into water. I find these visually appealing because each one is unique, it takes a good level of skill to “freeze” the water, and it’s a fun way to showcase a product.

But if you’ve never tried taking them before it can feel a bit intimidating to try. You might think you’ll get soaked (and quite honestly you might!) It can also be frustrating to play with camera settings and editing, since shooting indoors in oftentimes dark bathroom lighting can be tricky. So, without further ado I’m going to share some general tips for water shots, as well as how to take specific types of water shots that I’ve found to be quite popular.

General Tips for Water Shots

Tip #1: To get a crisp water shot use flash.

“Freezing” the water can be difficult. The easiest way to do so is to use your camera’s flash. My on-camera flash for my Canon works great at this, so you don’t need an external one. This also creates more contrast and sharpness to the photo.

Tip #2: Use brightly colored products.

This is a bit of a personal preference, but in general I do find brightly colored products work best for a water shot. They stand out from the water and also create something eye-catching in the frame (versus how white on a typically white background of a tub or sink may be harder to create sufficient contrast).

Tip #3: Take a lot of photos!

Water shots in particular are finicky. Since the set up can be messy, you want to get as many photos in one go as you can. Try shifting the product around, messing with the water spray, and changing up your lighting situation to have as many options as possible when you get to post-production.

Tip #4: In post-production, sharpen the photo with contrast.

To really make the water “pop”, you’ll want to play with contrast in post-production. Many free apps, like Snapseed and Lightroom, will allow you to adjust this setting. Other adjustments may be necessary to account for other issues with the shot, but in general I find myself increasing the contrast on all of my water shots.

Three Types of a Water Shot

Now that we’ve covered some stater tips, I want to talk about the three most common types of water shots you’ll see on skincare instagram, and how to take them yourself.

A Product in a Water Stream From a Sink/Bathtub Faucet

This is one of the simplest water shots to take. To capture these, hold the product in your hand in a water stream, either from a sink faucet or in a bath tub, and shoot how the water runs over the product.

Now for some tips for this type of shot (continuing on from the earlier tips):

Tip #5: You want a strong, thick water stream.

It is easiest to shoot with a thick, somewhat strong water stream. Oftentimes, I find my sink spray is too narrow and downward (if that makes sense) to work for a water shot. The outward spray that occurs in a bathtub faucet is perfect. You want a water stream that will create a splash off the product, rather than just running off.

Tip #6: Shoot with a clean, white background.

When shooting in a sink or bathtub, it’s important to make sure your background is clean (scrub the toothpaste away!) White is best to make the water and products pop, but other surfaces such as tile or marble can also create interesting photographs.

Tip #7: Cup the products in your hand with your thumb showing around one side.

One of the easiest ways I have found to photograph products under a faucet is to hold htem in the palm of my hand, showing off the product name/label, and just allowing my thumb (and not the rest of my fingers to be seen). Like so:

Tip #8: You can paint one nail to match the product if desired.

Going off the last point, you may wonder if your nails should match the product in question. They should at the least be clean, but if you want to take it a step further with your water shot, you can paint just your thumb with a color. I do this all the time, as it’s a time saving hack and makes my photos look a bit more fancy.

Shower Spray Shot

I shoot these when showing off a shower routine. or talking about a haircare/bodycare brand in detail. This is easiest if you have a flat surface, such as a shelf or even the floor of a shower, to stand the products on and aim the water at.

Tip #9: Use a handheld shower head or a rain head if you can.

I find it easiest to shoot with a handheld shower head, since I can control the spray and aim it at particular points of the shot. Alternatively, a rain shower can create interesting patterns with splashes

Tip #10: Wet the products first to create droplets, then spray lightly.

This is a process tip that you may or may not like to use for your water shots!

The way I create my end result is to get droplets on the products first then spray from slightly farther. This makes the water an interesting detail and not overwhelmingly present in the photo.

Tip #11: Hold the camera behind the shower head so it doesn’t get wet.

One of the biggest problems with water shots is it can be difficult to avoid getting your camera wet. With shower spray photos, I hold my camera behind the shower head (if it’s handheld) to avoid getting it soaked. Alternatively, using a zoom lens from a greater distance helps keep your equipment dry.

Splash Photos

These are new to me but I absolutely love creating them! They’re a bit messier than the other categories of water shots I’ve discussed, but the results are epic. My process, which I showcase in this reel, is to drop products into a tub filled with water and shoot using an external remote (which I’ll talk about later in this section).

Tip #12: Get paper or a background to put around the bin/tub.

When shooting a splash photo, it’s a great idea to get white cardboard or colored paper to put around the bin/tub you’re dropping into. Unless you’re a master at Photoshop (which I am not), this is the easiest way to ensure you have a clean crisp background and not the outdoors/your kitchen etc.

Tip #13: An external remote is your best friend.

When you’re dropping the products and trying to shoot at the same time, timing can be tricky. An external remote will be your best friend! This allows you to set your camera up on a stable surface and fire away. Obviously for this tip you need a proper camera as I’m not certain there are remotes available for iPhones, but even a timer on an iPhone would also do the trick.

Tip #14: Set your camera on a stable surface.

My last tip for these photos is to either use a tripod or make one out of household items. I usually set my camera on a book to keep it level while I shoot the splashes.

Final Thoughts on Creating a Water Shot

I hope these tips were helpful as you think about creating your first water shot! Now give it a go and let me know if you enjoy making a #watershotwednesday

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