10 tips for photographing cocktails like a pro
We bring you 10 tips for photographing cocktails like a pro, to up your visual game whether you’re a bartender or bar owner, or you want to pursue the art.
Amy Traynor (Moody Mixologist) is a photographer turned cocktail blogger and these are some of her top tips for creating beautiful, eye-catching drink photos.
Plus Amy’s guide advises on how to shoot on a low budget and not too expensive, with interesting techniques and everyday objects that will make your photos a work of art!
—–Follow @moodymixologist on Instagram——
Fortunately, once you know your way around lighting and have a few professional tricks up your sleeve, you can instantly improve your drink photos.
Photographing cocktails like a pro: jot down these tips.
1. Use your smartphone, but consider investing in a DSLR camera.
If you really want to dedicate yourself to photographing cocktails, consider buying a DSLR camera, which you can get for a price of 600 euros. Although it is not a requirement to take quality photos for social media or for a blog as the variety of phones today allows us to take very good quality photos.
2. Plan ahead
The vital decisions to take your photos should be made long before you start capturing photos, which will only take a few minutes, the planning is the longest part. Keep in mind that cold drinks and fresh garnishes can melt quickly and will appear wet.
Checklist for photographing cocktails before serving them.
Serving your cocktail will take 5 minutes, so set everything else up well.
-Initial lighting setup
-Selecting the glassware and garnish
Fine-tuning the lighting
-Composition and styling
-Focus and depth of field
3. Lighting for photographing cocktails
Mainly you need to set the light and this will depend on your drink.
If you are working with natural light, get lots of indirect light from the sun and bright. It will help to have a back and side lights.
Having lots of available light gives you more options, but a bright window will give you more than enough light to make beautiful images when photographing cocktails.
“My preferred lighting for a basic cocktail photo would be side lighting from a single window. Place your table near a window to get as much light as possible,” Amy says.
“About 80% of the cocktail photos on my Instagram were taken with natural light coming from a window next to the drink. Nowadays, however, I mostly shoot with studio lights and off-camera flashes like the Godox v1.”
Tip: Use a sheer curtain or diffuser panel to diffuse the sunlight. This will give a soft look to the shadows and prevent overexposure of the highlights.
4. Studio lights
Using studio lights for photographing cocktails will help you replace natural light if you don’t have it, some bars or venues are very dark and good light can help.
Continuous LED lighting options are plentiful these days, and you can find inexpensive lighting kits online that include softboxes to get that diffused, even lighting that food photographers love.
All you have to do is assemble them, set up the softboxes, and turn them on. There’s no hassle and no learning curve. Start with one light, and get used to controlling that key light before adding any other lighting.
Example of a fully backlit drink photo – Moody Mixologist©
You must take into consideration your type of glassware with respect to the type of light and how overall it will look best when photographing cocktails. Of course, your glass will depend on the cocktail, but fairly, the cocktail and its type of glass, its volume, design, height, and how it will look along with any other props you include.
6. The best angle
The angle is super important for photographing cocktails, as it will define the best image of your photographed cocktail. According to Amy, drinks will look best at a natural 45-degree angle “like you’re sitting at the table and looking at the drink in front of you,” she explains.
Amy adds that they also look great photographed from the front, at table level (so that the glass is positioned on the horizon line), and their shape is not distorted at all.
“It can also be a lot of fun to photograph from the top down, making the drink part of a shot. Just be sure to test the angle to see what will look best before you start with the drinks.”
Photo: Moody Mixologist
7. Check your image composing
You can use your tripod to understand what the final result will be. The objects and their position will look very different through your camera screen.
8. Control and adjust the lighting
Place a white reflector or a piece of white foam board in front of the window or in the light of a single photo, and bounce the light off your drink.
This will help fill in areas that were too dark or in shadow. You can adjust the position of the filler cardboard to bounce more light onto the side or front of the glass.*Pro tip: sharp edges on both sides of the glass/drink will help it stand out from the background. .
When you’re shooting cocktails against dark backgrounds, it can be helpful to use white reflectors to illuminate the edge furthest from the light.
When shooting against a bright white background, it is sometimes helpful to use a piece of black slate, also known as a black flag. This can prevent the edges of the glass from fading into the background, which is a common problem in beverage photos.
9. Styling and storytelling
Prop styling helps your photos tell a story when photographing cocktails. Perhaps you see a mixing glass and a bottle of bright red liquor in the background. There’s an orange in the foreground, missing a strip of skin.
These clues can help tell a classic cocktail lover that the red cocktail in the photo is a Negroni. This is a simple example, but other stories can be told as well.
10. Bring it all together to photograph cocktail perfectly
You’ve done it! If you’ve made it this far, you deserve that cocktail. In this Amy’s guide, we’ve gone over the most important elements of cocktail photography, from lighting to styling. There are however more tips to discover in the original Moody Mixologist post. Read it here: How To Photograph Drinks Like a Pro
Join our Newsletter for more news like this
Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.
Join the community on Reddit
Spirits Hunters is a community dedicated to spirits and the world of mixology. Feel free to talk about the world of mixology and bartending here!Join