Inside a Milk Shoot

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Inside a Milk Shoot

Doing a milk shoot, where you throw milk on a model then compile the collection of splashes until you have the model dressed is a riot to do and a lot of work. But it is really worth it; we loved doing it.

Here are some insights that we found not mentioned in all the research we did.

You might be expecting a mess when you set up, but it can get really messy. Milk, being a liquid goes everywhere. The richer the look the more fat there is in the milk, which leaves a fatty residue that needs soap to clean up.

Get lots of plastic. We used a heavier tarp plastic for the floor since we planned to reuse it. Put the plastic to both sides and on the floor well forward of where the model will pose. Where the black plastic meets the floor tape it down with duct tape so the milk cannot run into any gaps. To the sides, hang plastic high enough to protect from splashes. Cover your lights with clear plastic.

We had the model out from the background a good ways so just black cloth was used for the backdrop.

On top of the black floor plastic we had a large clear sheet of light plastic.The milk that splashes lands on it so you can lift it up to collect that milk for reuse. Have the model stand in a shallow plastic bin, most of the milk will run off her along with the short-range splashes into the basin. We put a second one at the end of it on the opposite side of the throw.


Before you start, know your poses. We taped out feet positions on the floor tarp, numbered for reference.  Have the model do a series of poses at the start when she is dry and the backdrop clean. You can then merge these legs with the milked body. Having her do a series of face poses with each pose will also speed up your compositions.

The model moves adjusting her body and can rarely get back into the exact same position, which will affect your later composition. We found if we had several glasses and cups filled and ready to go with a plan for each pour, the model was able to hold her position for long enough. We found no difference with using cold milk as opposed to room temperature milk and It’s easier on the model.

You are creating a dress or outfit with the milk so you need a mixture of pours and big splashes to create the effect. The milk throws need some velocity to give you a good splash. Using different sized and shaped containers all create different effects. We used small glasses, a large flat bake tray and small oblong bowls.

We had to wipe the model’s body down between splashes to keep her skin clean for the next throws.

For lights, you will need either a very fast flash units like the Einsteins or the high speed Broncolors. It has to be fast enough to freeze the motion of the milk splashes. You can also use sunlight.


Mix up your lighting. While the even light is great, strong sidelight is wonderful too. When you work each splash section do several so you have some options in the postproduction.

If you are charging a client, be sure to account for setup and cleanup times as well as the session time.  This will work best if you have some extras bodies to help.

For clean up, the buttermilk we used left a strong residue that was best power washed off. We took the trays and the floor tarp to a self-service car wash. We used the soap brush to scrub it out, went very fast.

Milk shoots are a blast to do, although setup and clean up take as much time as the session itself does. One last posing tip, try to have the hand and arms not cross over or touch the body it is easier to composite, adjusting for model movement. Don’t be frugal with the milk, the more you have the quicker the session goes.

There are lots of videos and tutorials out there, if you do plan a milk shoot these insights should make it more effective.

So, Got Milk? Get some then have a blast


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