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Cocktail Photography 101: Mastering The Art Of Making Images Using Smartphone

smartphone cocktail photography

If you have just entered the world of cocktail photography, and don’t have professional-grade gear to shoot with, don’t worry. Your smartphone is just as good as long as you follow these simple tips.  

Setting a Crystal-clear Foundation

Just as you would take care of your camera’s lens by polishing it to get rid of any smudges or fingerprints, the same rule applies to your phone’s lens as well. In fact, the lens of your phone is more prone to smudges, which can significantly impact the clarity of your photographs. Use a microfibre cloth to wipe your phone’s lens, so that you can start with a crystal-clear foundation. 

Setting the Scene

What backdrop you choose will determine the ambience of your cocktail. Always opt for clean and uncluttered backgrounds that complement the drink and not compete with it. You can also look at incorporating textured surfaces or stylish trays and coasters to add a touch of sophistication to your shot. Experimentation is key here. Try out different backgrounds to find one that matches the vibe of your drink.

cocktail photography scene

Finding the Right Light

Lighting is the crux of any form of photography, and this includes cocktail photography as well. When working with cocktails, try to use natural light as much as possible as it is the easiest to work with. To make the best out of natural light, position your drink near a window, but remember to avoid direct sunlight. Work with soft, diffused light as it will bring out the colours and textures of your drink without creating any unflattering shadows. The best time to photograph with natural light is early in the day or before sunset as this is the time when the light is diffused. Cloudy days are perfect too!

Experimenting with Angles to Showcase Details

When photographing cocktails, it’s all about experimenting with different angles to find the one that best showcases the drink’s unique features. For instance, shooting from the side can emphasise the various layers of the garnishes, while also highlighting the elegance of the glassware. A good tip to keep in mind is to choose an angle that is representative of how someone would be viewing the cocktail when they stand in front of it.

angles in photgraphy

Focus on Composition

There’s a reason why the rule of thirds is a cardinal rule in photography. The rule of thirds follows the principle of dividing your scene into nine equal segments using two vertical and horizontal lines. This can be easily achieved by switching on the grids in your phone camera’s app. The key is to position the cocktail along the intersections of the lines to create a well-balanced image. This will help to draw the viewer’s attention to the important elements in the photograph.

Blurring for Drama

Creating depth can elevate your photographs, giving your pictures a professional look. Most smartphones today have an in-built feature, called portrait mode, where you can control the depth of field in your image. This feature can be used to effectively highlight and isolate your drink from its surroundings. The best part of this feature is that you can experiment with varying levels of background blur to find one that best conveys the essence of your cocktail.

Making Use of the Phone’s Burst Mode

Your smartphone is as capable as a professional camera to capture action. By using your phone’s burst mode, you can photograph the pouring of the drink into the glass. All you have to do is hold down the shutter button of your phone to capture a series of shots without missing out on any of the action.

Polishing to Perfection

Once you are done photographing, it’s time to fine-tune your images using editing apps. Today, smartphones come with built-in editing apps, or if you want more tools, there are countless downloadable editing apps that you can make use of. With these apps, you can easily adjust brightness, contrast and saturation to bring out the best qualities of your pictures. However, make sure to exercise restraint as the goal is to enhance the picture and not overshadow the natural beauty of your drink.