Basic principles, technique, tricks, details, lighting, angle and style of shooting. How does FotoPRO proceed?
It seems that cocktails are still a favorite drink today, and the inexhaustible photographic creativity is aimed at showing consumers new, tempting visions of cocktail recipes.
Cocktail mixology is one of the exciting topics in product photography. As part of food photography, it is a vast opportunity for experimentation, including an abundance of colors, liquids, ice, fire, fruit, spices, flowers, and imagination that mixes and presents them in the most captivating way.
How is a cocktail shot?
The basic principles for capturing cocktails follow the guidelines of product photography of food.
To create an interesting, realistic and appetizing shot, you first need a complete idea. The right choice of additional elements, background, focal length, depth of field, color coordination and captivating composition are the mainstay of the stylishly presented product frame of a cocktail.
Like any type of photography, there are guiding rules when shooting cocktails. But imagination is a major component of this art form that has no boundaries, so rules can be a good foundation, but not a maxim. Understanding compositional techniques and their application aims to develop your own, unique style.
There are three compositional techniques in food and beverage product photography. The selected model is usually a leading line:
- Rule of thirds
- The Golden ratio
The ability to balance compositional techniques, with the right styling and negative space, will allow you to control the viewer’s gaze to specific areas of your photos.
Many cocktail photography professionals create a visually more interesting and pleasing composition by betting on an odd number of objects in a group. For example, 3 or 5 cups arranged in a diagonal or triangular composition.
With more objects in the frame, it’s much easier to focus on one main “character” in our composition by bringing it to the forefront and using a smaller aperture to highlight it.
When shooting cocktails, one of the challenges you will face is lighting. The work with the lighting is more specific, because of the glass vessels in which the cocktails are presented. They are a prerequisite for the appearance of unwanted reflections and glare. Therefore, the right approach and the need for improvement are crucial to achieving the ideal staff.
Natural light is usually preferred in food and beverage product photography. When organizing the stage, the professionals rely on side and back lighting. A reflector and a diffuser or, of course, handy tools to replace them must be present in your props. With their help you can direct the light and accentuate a specific part of the glass.
The back light emphasizes the liquid, while the side light aims to emphasize the rim of the glass.
It is not a good idea to mix natural with artificial lighting.
If you need to shoot in a bar, find a bright place.
To improve your photos, consider the right angle or try several options. When moving from a frontal position, a 45-degree or direct shot taken from above, it is important to emphasize the accent that makes your drink look inviting.
The styling in the product photography of cocktails gives you a fun opportunity to play with interesting mixes of colors, beautiful glasses, ice and plenty of complementary elements, backgrounds and surfaces to explore the most intriguing composition. However, the photos of cocktails will also provoke your patience, because unlike other products, they need to be prepared just before the shooting. Many of the drinks are with ice, and the work with it is precise and limited in time.
To build the right concept for the upcoming photos of a particular cocktail you can think about when and where people consume it. Whether the bar setting would be more appropriate or something seasonal, reminiscent of a tropical country and summer will fit better.
On the other hand, the drinks themselves can be relatively impersonal to photograph, so applying knowledge about color combinations can help a good final shot. Using contrasting colors, for example, is a great way to add interest and vibrancy to your photos. So, whatever the main color of your drink, try to include and complementary in the elements with which you will decorate and present.
Pay attention to detail. If we order a cocktail at a bar, they usually bring it to us with a chilled glass and decoration. And that makes us happy.
Cocktails always need decoration. With it you will add texture, color, height and layers. Citrus and berries are the most common accents in cocktail decorations.
A good way to break the monotony in your photos is to complement the scene with more elements to put in the foreground or in the background. Arranged empty glasses, multiple straws on one side or a bottle of alcohol, a cocktail shaker. Sprinkle around some of the bartender’s ingredients or tools.
What tricks can you apply when taking product photos of cocktails?
Ice is an essential element in many cocktail product shots. We are aware that this is a perishable ingredient that is extremely difficult to work with. If you are using real ice, it is important to add it to your composition immediately before you start shooting.
If you want crystal clear ice, Lisa Bolton advises boiling the water first and then loading it into the chamber / freezer.
Today, there is an opportunity to work with many forms of ice, to freeze herbs, flowers and other ingredients for our sumptuous and stylish cocktail shots.
One of the biggest advantages is that we can find artificial ice on the market, which is extremely useful, especially for beginners.
If you want to be like the professionals, be creative. The effect of melting “artificial” ice is created by adding plain water under the fake cubes scattered around the glass.
Maintaining perfect condensation on the side of the cup is almost impossible, especially when the ice cubes in the liquid are not real.
To create a condensation effect, use a mixture of water and glycerin.
Prepare it by adding equal parts of a mixture of water and glycerin, combined in a suitable container with a spray. After mixing well, spray on the glass at room temperature.
You will be amazed at how perfect condensation is. Unlike the real one, which drains and disappears, your condensation will remain in its original state at all times.
The same mixture is effective enough to give a fresh look to the fruit in your props.
In order to have an ice cup, it is necessary to cool it in advance. You will need about 15 to 20 minutes of the cup in the freezer, just before the photos.
When working with glass, always keep in mind the prints. You can use gloves for this purpose. Transport already filled cups by placing both palms on the bottom and top of the cup, not around the sides.
It is a good practice to adjust your frame before bringing the “hero”.
Professionals often pour the liquid into the glass at the last minute, using a funnel to avoid splashes.
If you start shooting smoky cocktails, instead of risking your safety with real fire or flammable products, you can try to achieve the same effect with dry ice or an electronic cigarette.
Capturing product images with cocktails definitely requires a lot of time and preparation. You need to think about your concept, to focus on the details. The more unique the perspective and styling, the more likely the viewer is to feel the “personality” of the cocktail, in just a few shots.