Woman taking a photograph of her cocktail with her smartphone

Blogs & Inspiration

Cocktail Photography: 6 Tips from a Pro

Discover six easy cocktail photography tips to take stunning drink photos with your smartphone.

Author: Rob Lawson, Professional Drinks Photographer

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Tips to Create Stunning Cocktail Photographs

Sharing pictures of your cocktails on social media can help attract new customers, increase profits, and build a loyal, highly engaged online following. 

Imagine you’re scrolling through your social media newsfeeds and come across a drink that makes you think, “Ooooh, I’m going there to try that!” 

It happens all the time and in our increasingly digital world with 67% of consumers saying the quality of a product image is “very important. sharing high-quality, visually appealing images of your cocktails can be lucrative.

Create Shareable, Engaging Images Online

  • Keep things fresh - “Drinks are dead after 30 seconds and bar tops aren’t a great setting,” Rob explains. “Prepare and shoot your drink somewhere well-lit and pour in situ – mixers, for example, should be ‘topped’ just before the shot is taken as it keeps the drink fresh and alive.”
  • Set the scene - "You’ve heard the saying, 'A picture is worth a thousand words'. And it’s true,” Rob insists, “storytelling and photography go hand-in-hand. Tell a story with the shot; the cocktail isn’t everything and can be enhanced by other factors,” he maintains. Rob adds, “Aim to capture the character of a bar with colour or texture cues from the furniture or setting. Equally consider props, from garnishes to bar tools, all add personality and depth to your image.” 
  • Lighting the shot - Rob says good lighting is key. “Natural light can be a great starting point. Find somewhere with a good backlight, like a windowsill,” he advises. “The setting should put light between the camera and the drink, with more light in front than behind. Avoid down lights in bars, they make the drink too bright and the surroundings too dark,” Rob adds.

Getting the perfect shot

  • Composition - It’s time to work on composition, which means pulling back and bringing the environment into play. “Walk backwards and then zoom in a bit,” Rob advises. “This plays with the depth of field, eliminates the natural wide angle of the phone lens, and then you can work on the shot’s composition.” People recall over 65% of what they see versus 10% of what they hear. Therefore making sure that what they see has impact is crucial. Therefore, ensuring your background is clear, neutral and free from distractions is a good idea. Make sure the cocktail elements are perfect, simple things like fresh ice and a clean glass, make all the difference.
  • Getting the best photos on your smartphone - You’ll wonder, “Should I shoot in landscape or portrait?” Rob says it’s a good idea to shoot in landscape. You can always take a portrait crop from the picture. “Avoid using the flash options for more natural tones,” he advises. “Play around with different focus points to explore bokeh (an out-of-focus-blur) and adding complexity to the photograph,” Rob adds.
  • Finding an angle - It’s time to frame your shot. “Framing is so important,” Rob explains. “It’s about providing a context to how this drink is enjoyed.  “The entire setting plays a role, so try capturing wide, landscape shots that help tell a story" he adds.

Key Takeaways

  • Sharing images of your cocktail creations online can increase sales, engage your audience, and attract new customers. 
  • Keep things fresh: Always ‘top’ mixers just before taking the shot to keep the drink fresh.
  • Set the scene: Consider garnishes and bar tools as props to set the scene and build a story.
  • Light the shot: Lighting is key to a great shot, make sure it’s not too bright or too dark – natural light is ideal.
  • Work on composition: Make sure your background is free from distractions and all your elements are clean and fresh.
  • Shoot in landscape mode: This allows you to take a portrait crop if needed in the future.
  • Frame your shot: The entire setting can tell a story, make sure to use it.

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