Over the last few months I’ve been experimenting with beer product photography. It’s a genre I’ve never really been excited about. It’s technically challenging, but also pretty boring. Regardless, beer product photography is very important, whether it’s a formal portrait like you see above, or out in the wild at a bar or brewery.
Here’s how I’ve been approaching the images above:
- Obviously, make the beer look beautiful. It’s essentially a portrait, so showing off all the beautiful features of the label design, and removing imperfections in Photoshop is necessary. You don’t want a nasty pimple to detract from the brand.
- Accentuate the key components of the beer, and if possible, tell part of the creation or consumption story. Although it’s occasionally necessary, a beer bottle shot against a plain white background is boring. Use the space around the beer to feature more info about the beer.
- Less is more, so I try to keep the photo simple. If too many elements are jammed into a composition, then they’ll start to detract from the main focus.
- Make people thirsty and inspire them to buy the beer.
Saaremaa Island Ale – Everything around the bottle was inserted via Photoshop. The bottle was photographed using an off-camera flash in front of a white background. I did a lot of touch up work on the bottle, enhancing exposure and color, and also removing imperfections like hot spots. I then found a 17th century map of Saaramaa Island for the background, and added the dotted line and X marks the spot for narrative purposes. The brewmaster, Mark Carpenter, travelled to the island and brought back native yeast, which is why the label reads “An Estonian Style Beer Journey.” Since the beer can’t float over the map, I found am image of wood planks, altered the perspective, and added the shadow to make it appear as if the beer is sitting on a table, which works quite nicely with the overall tone and a natural setting.
Dogpatch Strawberry – Creating this photo was a bit simpler. The goal was to create a still life using the main ingredient. So on the morning of the shoot I went out and bought fresh strawberries, then arranged them around the bottle to create a small hill extending beyond the picture frame. I wanted the viewer to imagine it was a mountain of abundance. Once again the image was captured on a white background, so I threw it in Photoshop and added the wood texture, which is actually the head of a barrel. I also made a bunch of exposure, color, and image corrections to tie everything together nicely.