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One of the largest challenges to content creation in this social-media-hungry world is keeping up with the demand for great photography, especially when you’re just starting out with your business.

Styled shoots are great, but you have to wait for the pictures, and even then there are likely just a few unique ones. Hiring a professional photographer is another great option, but can be expensive. You could use stock photos (we use a lot of them in this article to demonstrate different techniques) but overuse of stock photos can be obvious and offputting for potential customers.

That leaves you, your cocktail, and your trusty phone. No fear. You can take great photos with just your phone if you keep the following things in mind.

1. Use Natural Light

Most photogs will tell you that the greatest light is natural light, this is true even for food/drink photography. You could buy expensive equipment to mimic natural light, or you can move your goods over to a window or out on your porch.

Note, however, that direct light can cast harsh shadows that may be distracting, create unwanted reflections off the glass, or wash out the colors. Try to aim for taking photos early in the day or before sunset when the light is diffused. Photos on cloudy days are also great as the clouds act as a natural light diffuser!

2. Use a Neutral Background

Neutral backgrounds make it easy to highlight the cocktail in the image. Neutral doesn’t have to mean a white, black, or beige background though, it can just mean “not-busy.” Some real stars that look great with cocktails are wood, stone, natural fibers (like straw/burlap/etc) and linens like table clothes and napkins.

If you do have a busy background in the shot, however, try blurring the background so that it’s more muted. This will have a similar “highlighting” effect on the cocktail, which is the main star of the photo.

3. Be Intentional with Angles

Shooting from above is often the best angle for food dishes, but with drinks, you often want to shoot from the side because you want to see what’s IN the glass. A neutral background, as mentioned above, will help highlight any great colors or ingredients, but experiment with slight alterations in angle to find what works best for your shot. I’ve found a good rule of thumb to be shooting at an angle that is representative of how someone would be seeing the drink if they were standing in front of it.

4. Be Mindful of the Drink Arrangement

If you’ve spent any time in a great restaurant you’ll know that a chef painstakingly plates each and every dish. Even though it may taste like plated heaven, you eat/drink with your eyes first. When photographing your cocktails, pay extra attention to things like your garnishes (freshness and placement), ensuring the glass is clean, that the ice is fresh, and that the cocktail hasn’t been sitting so long in the glass that water is now condensing and running down the side of the glass. A fresh, well-composed cocktail is key.

5. Utilize Negative Space

One of the best ways to highlight a gorgeous cocktail is to give it space. Don’t zoom in real close to it, but give it enough negative space to really stand out. Try putting it in the left of the frame, or the right instead of dead center. See what works best for that particular shot.

6. Style the Shot

Pictures become instantly more interesting when you decorate a scene with related, but smaller, items. Try using the ingredients you used to make the drink, or natural/neutral accents like flowers, succulents, etc.

I’ve found it looks most natural when it’s haphazardly arranged. There tends to be order in the chaos!

7. Build a Story.

Sometimes you just want a photo of a cocktail, maybe for your website, or a recipe post, but sometimes you want it to be a post that allows you to tell a story. You can do this by bringing in movement. Add a book and a reader will envision the turning of pages, add hands holding cocktails and people envision the “cheersing” of glasses, catch a shot of ice dropping into a glass and they envision the feel of splashing water.


Now that you have the 7 key things to keep in mind when shooting cocktails, go try them out! Then, when you post them to Instagram, tag @mobilebevpros for a chance to be featured!