6 Tips on taking great cocktail pictures with your phone

6 Tips on taking great cocktail pictures with your phone

As a bartender one of the ways to promote yourself or your bar is by showing the world your amazing cocktail creations. But how do you take great cocktail pictures with your phone?

The mobile phone. It comes in many shapes, sizes & colours and is also one of the first things we grab in the morning. When it comes to snapping a quick picture or a selfie, the mobile phone is also what we use to snap those amazing visuals.

Go-to accessory for taking instagrammable pictures.

From the early days where the wealthy businessmen, the posers, the rich & the famous would walk around carrying a fridge-sized mobile, to the first built-in camera mobile phone boosting a whopping 0.11 Megapixels. The quality of the pictures wasn't that great.

With today's rapid technology development, it is no wonder that the mobile phone has become the go-to accessory for taking instagrammable pictures.

Nowadays even cheaper phone models come with a built-in camera with a minimum of 10 Megapixels making picture taking so easy, it makes amateurs look like professional photographers.

As a bartender one of the ways to promote yourself or your bar is by showing the world your amazing cocktail creations. But how do you take great cocktail pictures with your phone?


6 tips on taking great cocktail pictures with your phone

Tip 1 - Let there be light!

When it comes to snapping cocktail pictures, lighting is important. When shooting indoors, if possible, try going for natural daylight. Natural light tends to be softer & mellower than artificial lighting.

If natural light is out of the question for whatever reason, then artificial lighting would be your second-best bet. Try using a LED ring light, when shooting in a dark room. It distributes the light more evenly over the area I'm about to shoot, whereas a single sharp source of light, like your phone's flash, tends to be sharper and will almost always leave a reflective spot on your pictures. A no-go when taking cocktail pictures is mixing natural & artificial lights. Rarely will these result in a great picture when combined. 

Tip 2 - Clear vs opaque

Clear cocktails tend to have quite some reflection on the picture if they're lighted from the front. Make sure the source of light comes from behind the drink so you can see the liquid in the glass. 

Opaque/ obscure drinks stand out better if the source of light comes from the front. Just remember not to have the light source reflect the drink too much.  

Tip 3 - Angles are everything

Ask any professional food photographer. It takes multiple pictures before getting the money shot! Plates of food like to be snapped from above. Drinks like being snapped from the front or on a slight angle. It's true. 

Shooting a cocktail from above might result in a shot that will show you the beautiful liquid, foam, ice cubes and garnishes. But you will miss the beautiful shape of the glass. Play around taking pictures from different heights, depths, and angles. The angle and distance of the light source can also influence the final picture.

Tip 3 - Plan & Prep

Proper preparation prevents possible problems. The 5 p's of a good bar shift. Any bartender knows that the success of a smooth bar shift lies in the prep.

The same principle applies when taking cocktail pictures. Have a plan of what you want to do. Prep your shot upfront using a mockup glass and the props you want to shoot. Take a couple of test shots. Once content, make the drink and shoot as quickly as possible. Why so quick, you might ask? 

Well, it depends on the cocktail you want to shoot. Some cocktails contain ice, which melts quickly. Condensation starts forming on the glass and might just ruin your money shot. If your cocktail contains an impeccable foam layer on top, it will start collapsing after a while. When taking pictures of real cocktails, be fast & furious!!

Tips & Tricks that work!

  • Cocktails at room temperature are better to shoot than cold cocktails. 

  • Many photographers don't make the real cocktail or even use real ice. Acrylic ice cubes don't melt. 

  • Want condensation you can control? Spray a little water using a spray bottle with an atomizer nozzle on the glass. These small water droplets stay longer and will not easily leak. 

  • Need to take a picture of a cocktail that contains a real expensive spirit? Use a cheaper spirit or liquid of a similar colour.

Tip 4 - Know your phone

Most modern mobile phone cameras have a simple tap and snap function. The complex exposure triangle (shutter speed, aperture & ISO) calculations is automatically done for you by your mobile phone's software sensors. This makes taking those great cocktail pictures for your Instagram or Facebook easier and gives you a faster upload time than working with a DSLR- or mirrorless camera.

It really pays off if you know how your phone's camera works. The upper spectrum of some modern mobile phone cameras also come with a pro-mode. Play around with different settings to see what works best for the picture you're trying to take. Believe me. Once you know how to achieve a certain look & feel for the picture you want, taking pictures becomes way easier & fun.

Try achieving the look & feel you want without using filters. Only add filters if you've tried everything else or when your phone doesn't achieve what you want it to do. Maybe even to bring some colors a bit more to life. Two filter apps you can use when needed are VSCO & Snapseed.

Tip 5 - Step back

Now, if you have outdone yourself and made a great-looking, mouth-watering, Instagram-worthy cocktail, why only take a close-up of the drink? Step back and take some shots from a distance. Cocktails like to be shot with a background behind them. Having some depth makes your cocktail stand out more on the picture. Play with different settings, backdrops and props to achieve that great cocktail picture. 

Another way to make your cocktail stand out more is by blurring out the background. Or what the pro's like to call "bokeh". For most modern phones, easily achievable by tapping on the cocktail on the screen. Your phone's camera automatically blurs out the background while focusing on the cocktail.

Tip 6 - Silent Storyteller

Know what you're trying to tell. Do you want to invite people to your bar by showing them the different cocktails that are on the menu? Or do you want them to see your creativity and artistry? Maybe you want them to see what you can with certain ingredients and spirits. 

A picture can tell many stories. The use of props can help you tell that story. A book on the side, maybe a bottle of the booze you've used. Take control of what you want people to see. 

One thing is key in taking cocktail pictures: Less is more. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Follow the 6 tips mentioned above. Practice taking cocktail pictures and show us some love by sharing these tips with your friends

Want to create your own cocktails to take great pictures with your phone? The Master Bartender course is best suited for you. Book now!

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