Tips to create drool-worthy drink photography

4 min read
A glass of smoked whisky served with a garnish of orange peel

Photographing drinks is one of the most creative and fun types of food photography. You can experiment with interesting compositions, and use fun colors, and interesting props.

Here are some tips to help you achieve awesome results on your next beverage shoot:

Use complementary colors to make your photos pop

Shooting drinks can be tedious and one-dimensional. The use of colors is one sure-fire way to make your images pop and look more interesting.

Complementary colors (colors that fall opposite each other on the color wheel) are a great way to enhance the vibrancy of your pictures. So, whatever the main color of your drink is – try integrating a complementary color into the background, garnishes, or props to make your image stand out. and are two awesome tools that I use to come up with interesting and complementary color palettes.

The rule of odds

When clicking a group of subjects, the rule of odd states that an odd number of subjects will create a more visually interesting composition than an even number.

Photographing drinks is a perfect opportunity to practice this. Make your composition more appealing to the eye by including 3 or 5 glasses and playing with angles and diagonals.

You can more easily highlight one subject in your photo by having an odd number of subjects. Place the subject in a strong position in the composition and use a smaller aperture (lower f/stop number) to make it stand out.

Backlighting your subject

The most difficult part about shooting beverages is getting proper lighting with the reflective glass and transparent liquids. Avoid situations where light bounces back into the lens from the glass surface.

A good way to counteract this is to backlight your drinks photos. To do so, place the primary light source directly behind and slightly above the subject. You can use a reflector (silver works best) to gently reflect the light to the front of the glasses.

Even when side lighting drinks, try to position your primary light slightly towards the back to avoid harsh reflections.

Experiment with Hard Light

In general, the tip for food/ drink photography is to use diffused light, avoid harsh shadows, and have "soft" light. For most shoots, this works well, however, at times using a hard light to create drastic contrasts and shadows can have a captivating effect.

Strong, undiffused light can be used to capture textures on the glasses and create a prism effect. Position your primary light high above your subject and angle it diagonally to achieve the desired effect. The further away your light is from the subject, the longer the shadows will be. There are no hard rules here, just play around with your light setup to create the look you want.

Create a frosted glass effect

Need that frosted, "just out of the fridge" look for your photo? With all the artificial lighting around, a food photography setup is not the ideal place to keep your drink cold and crisp.

How do you get this look then? Combine 50% distilled water and 50% glycerin in a fine misting bottle, mix well, and spray on your glasses from a distance. This mix will give you the perfect condensation effect that will not drip or dry away.

Fake ice cubes!!

A beverage shoot would not be complete without ice. The problem is that ice is a perishable ingredient - how do you use it in a hot styling room while still having enough time to take shots?

What comes in really handy is fake ice cubes. These realistic-looking ice cubes can be easily found online (search on Amazon for some good, cheap options) and will serve you well right through your shoot (in fact, you can wash them off and keep them for your next shoot!).

When you want to create a look of ice melting on the tray, just spray some water on top and click away.

Have fun with garnishes

Garnishes are a great way to add life and color to your drink photography. For photography, it's important to consider complementary colors (as mentioned above) when garnishing drinks. To create the perfect look, use bold, complementary colored garnishes.

Adding a sugar or salt rim to your glasses can add texture to your photos along with color. The possibilities are endless – check out Instagram and other photo sites for inspiration and play around with things at hand to get the best look.

Many food photographers specialize in drink photography after years of practice, so don't worry if it takes you a while to get the shot you want.

Keep mixing drinks and click away. If you are looking for a drinks photographer, we have some excellent professionals here on Pyx Photography who’d like to help out.