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SHOOTING COCKTAILS WITH ROB LAWSON

Sharing our cocktails on social media is no longer just a vanity project, it’s a tangible way of raising our profiles, attracting more through the door and helping the bottom line. We talked to professional drinks photographer, Rob Lawson, on the best ways to capture drinks when you’re limited to a phone.

THUMBS AT THE READY

Sharing cocktail creations online is a great way to reach wider audiences and generate excitement about a drink or menu. And in a world of ever-improving technology, where most people have high-res cameras in their pockets, the issue with shooting cocktails isn’t about the hardware; it’s about knowing what makes a great photograph and how to take one.

But, what makes a great picture? With over two decades experience of working with major drink brands across the globe and from his London studio, there aren’t many better positioned to advise on the best ways of photographing drinks. Below, Rob lays down the law(s) on how to shoot cocktails on a smartphone.

TIPS FROM THE TOP

1.KEEP THINGS FRESH

Drinks are dead after 30 seconds and bar tops aren’t a great setting.

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.

2.SET THE SCENE

Tell a story with the shot – the cocktail isn’t everything and can be enhanced by other factors.

Aim to capture the character of a bar with colour or texture cues from the furniture or setting.

3.LIGHTING THE SHOT

Find somewhere with a good backlight, like a windowsill.

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.

4.COMPOSITION

Once the lighting is right then you can work on composition - pull back and bring the environment into play.

Walk backwards and then zoom in a little bit. This plays with the depth of field, eliminates the natural wide angle of the phone lens and then work on the composition of the shot.

5.GETTING THE BEST FROM YOUR PHONE

If you can shoot in landscape, you can always take a portrait crop from the picture.

Avoid using the flash options for more natural tones.

Play around with different focus points in the shot to explore bokeh and adding complexity to the photograph.

6.FINDING AN ANGLE

Framing the shot is so important – 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.

Test out low angles and overhead shots but remember they should be chosen to best showcase the cocktail – and if it’s layered, then both angles often fail to do it justice.