How (not) to shoot drinks

10 January 2023

shooting drinks
Whether recording a work-in-progress or posting on your Instragram account, it’s worth knowing how to take a decent photo of a drink. Photographer Matt Russell, who has 15 years experience in food and drink, shares his top tips for snapping a great phone pic – preparation and practice makes perfect.
Don’t... just buy a kick-ass camera

You can buy a great camera and lights, but it doesn’t necessarily make you good. (Ed: Ouch!) A lot of it is practice and recognition of what works, and playing around with stuff to get there.

Natural light is good for starters

I’ve learned to use lighting over the years and become more technical, but a great way to shoot your own stuff at the start is to use natural light. Find a window, and then find a way to bounce or absorb natural light in order to get a bit of control over your contrast, and start from there. Create a little scene – however simple – and have a play.

Get set before you pour

Shooting drinks is very time sensitive – especially if you’ve got carbonation. So, you need to choose the right glassware and create the right composition before you have the drink itself. If you’ve got ice and carbonation, that goes within seconds. That moment when you make a drink with soda or champagne, there’s this moment where you pour the liquid in and you get the bubbles within the body of the glass and you also get this explosion of bubbles leaving the surface of the liquid and exploding above the rim of the glass and that is something that is quite hard to get and you have to be ready for that.

Explore the technical features on your phone

You’re going to get some pretty good stuff if you practice, but there are certain elements of the combination of shutter speed of a camera and lighting that enable you to capture that stuff in a freeze frame.

Don’t scratch that!

Keep an eye out for scratched glass and reflections – they’re two pretty big things to avoid when it comes to making a drink look as good as it can.

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