Critique the Community Episode 25: Product Photography

To celebrate our most recent tutorial release with Brian Rodgers Jr., this weeks episode of Critique the Community features product photography images. We chose 20 of the images and rated them using the Fstoppers rating system. We also gave a free tutorial away to

Benedict Eric. Congratulations on being selected as the winner this week. We will send you a message through your Fstoppers account to let you claim the download of your choice. 

If you want to be part of the next episode, we will be reviewing environmental portraits. Check out this post and follow the guidelines to be eligible. Be sure to give some comments below to give your own thoughts on this week's image selections or let us know what you think of Lee and Patrick's feedback. We've also included a link to Brian's free tutorial on shooting a bottle beneath the images. 


If you would like to learn to shoot better product photos, we filmed a fantastic free tutorial with Brian Rodgers Jr. last year which can be see right here. If you want to take your product photography work to the next level, be sure to take a peek at his full Fstoppers original photography tutorial

The Fstoppers Community Rating System

If you have an Fstoppers account, you are able to create your own profile and portfolio directly within the Fstoppers Community. Once you have a portfolio uploaded, you can browse images in the community and rate the photos of your peers. Even though art is usually a fairly subjective matter, we wanted to create a rating system that was as objective and unbiased as possible. This way, if one of your images has been rated 50 times and has received an average rating of 2 stars, you could feel confident that maybe that particular image is not up to par. Below is a simple explanation of the Fstoppers Community Rating System.

One Star: The Snapshot

One star ratings are limited to snapshots only. Snapshots are usually taken to document a time or location, but little to no thought has gone into the creation of the image. If an image has been "lit" with external light (besides a direct on-camera flash), it is at least a two star picture. The majority of one star images have had no post-production work done to them, but do often have an "Instagram style" filter added to them. The average person these days snaps one star images every single day with their smartphones. Most one star images that pop up on sites like ours are images of flowers, pets, landscapes, sunsets, objects around a house, etc. If you read Fstoppers, you should not be sharing one star images for any reason.

Two Stars: Needs Work

All images, besides maybe five star images, always have room for improvement, but two star images "need work" before they should be included in your portfolio. As photographers, we are snapping thousands of images per year, but only a few of those images should ever be shared or put into our portfolio. A photographer who has taken a two star image has put some thought into the composition, exposure, and post-production, but for some reason has missed the mark. A two star image should not be in the portfolio of a full-time professional photographer and amateur photographers should strive for something better. Even complete amateurs who don't understand photography at all are capable of taking two star images from time to time.

Three Stars: Solid

A three star image is an all-around good image. The photographer has a solid understanding of the basics: composition, color, focus, subject matter, and post-production. A three star image is "good," but it's not great. Most part-time professional photographers have mostly three star images in their portfolios. Usually, a level three image would have been rated four stars if it had been shot in a better location, or with a better model showing a better expression, or if there was better post-production. A photographer capable of taking a three star image is capable of taking four and five star images if they would simply pay more attention to the details. 

Four Stars: Excellent

Four star images are fantastic. In most cases, four star images have a certain style to them that links them directly to their creator. A four star image usually requires planning and attention to extreme detail. It's almost impossible to shoot a four star image by getting lucky. Four star images have an almost flawless conception, composition, lighting, subject matter, and post-production. If you have any 4 four star images in your portfolio, you should be very proud of yourself.

Five Stars: World Class

Five star images are flawless and unforgettable. The amount of time, energy, and talent that goes into the average five star image is staggering. In many cases, these pictures require a team to produce, including a professional retoucher. The concept, lighting, subject, location, and post-production on these images have to be perfect. In some cases, the jump from four to five stars may be as simple as changing the unknown model in the picture with a celebrity or bringing in a set designer or stylist to make the image slightly better. Although there are always exceptions, most five star images take days, if not weeks, or months to produce.

Strengthening Your Own Portfolio

Even with our objective rating system, people are going to disagree with what they like because ultimately, art is still a matter of opinion. However, we believe once an image has been rated over 25 times, it will have a rating that is pretty fair and honest (we hope to deter trolls by giving negative Karma points when a vote is more than one star away from the community average). If one of your images in your own portfolio is rated lower than what you personally feel it should be rated, we would urge you to try to look at the image from an unbiased angle. Step back, erase your memory of the photoshoot itself, and try to imagine an art buyer, stock agency, potential client, or local gallery as they decided if they wanted to invest in your services. Would your image make the cut?

David Strauss's picture

David Strauss is a wedding photographer based in Charleston, SC.

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Starting price for the Corum bridge around $80K :)

Proof patrick is dumb

Not so fast, mr. Morris. Only $40k now.
What I'm wondering who that photographer is that took this ridiculous picture of $40k (or 80 at that time probably) watch. wtf is wrong with those ppl they definitely don't have accounts on fstoppers. Send them Brian's tutorial

Hi Stas I took it and I enjoy reading the articles here on Fstoppers. This watch is by way not the most expensive I photographed. Right now I photograph one which is 500k and it's a beauty.

No, yours is great ) I'm talking about the one on Google, that I attached =)

Great image, it really is...I just don't know watches at this level. I'd love to see some of your more well known brand shots.

Thanks 😊 you can see some on my website I have to update it when I have a moment. Or on IG I will try to upload also some here.

Just goes to show that expensive stuff can still be gaudy looking.

Expensive does not mean that everybody likes it. This watch sells well in Asia. Not my preferred one but the mechanical mouvement is a piece of art. It's so tiny.

Thanks for the critique of the rose and lipstick picture. I will pursue this when I have more time 😊

Hey guys thanks for the critique and kind words about my photo! You were asking as to whether it was a composite or a single shot, and although I did some cleanup, it was actually captured in a single shot. I photographed it for a smaller eCommerce company I was working for at the time and there was no branding directly on the brushes. I believe they had a designer add logos and type to the image after the fact. I'll attach the shot straight from camera (exported to a jpeg). Thanks again for taking the time to review my photo.


I love this, shot, I love the shape to it.

I love hearing the stories behind these images. That is so cool!

I've never had such different opinions from you guys as with this video. Especially that drone shot. But hey whatever I ain't no expert. haha.

Thank you for the critique of my two pictures 😊 especially the input for the rose and lipstick, I will work on this. The Corum Golden Bridge is expensive but there is a market for it and compared to other watches I photographed by fare not the most expensive. Keep up your great work.

I thank God for this win..., I appreciate the reviews and the community.
oh!, for the image, I shot with just one light, boomed at about 45 degrees to the subject, no bounce or fill cards, shot on a black perspex. Shot at f/22, iso/50 and SS/ 125

It's around 15K to 20K worth of watch and one of most luxury timepieces which considered to be a jewel.

Hi Lee. I'm wondering...Are you still in the wedding-business?

Not at the moment. I’m sure I will shoot some weddings in the future but I’m not actively booking any.

Thank's for your response!

Thanks for the critique guys! Here's a BTS for the bourbon shot, just trying out new tricks :-)

Thanks for the critique!!! In this link you can see how I did the picture of the nail polish.