How to Start with Beer Photography, 11 Tips and Tricks

Michael • updated September 20, 2022 • 9 min read

How to Start with Beer Photography, 11 Tips and Tricks

Bottles and glass are some of the hardest things to photograph. Surfaces that reflect light will make it bounce around in unpleasant ways, mess up your lighting, and cause reflections.

If you look on Instagram for #beertography, you’ll find nearly 4 million posts. Beer photography is becoming a hobby just like food photography.

Watch out for reflections and be ready to move the lights around a hundred times before you find the right arrangement. If not, you’ll have to spend a lot of time in the editing room getting rid of all those annoying reflections.

Most people think that cans are easier to photograph than bottles or glasses because they don’t have as many annoying reflections. Yes, most cans still have some reflectivity, but not as much as bottles.


How to Start with Beer Photography
Beer in glass, @enginakyurt

Photographing bottles, cans, or glasses

Most people think that it is easier to take pictures of cans than bottles or glasses because there won’t be as many annoying reflections. Yes, the cans still reflect some light, but not as much as the bottles.

Beer usually comes in one of three ways: in a can, a bottle, or a glass. No matter how you like to drink your alcoholic beverage, the way you photograph the cup it’s in will change.

Bottles and broken glass are some of the hardest things to catch. Surfaces that reflect light will make it bounce around in irritating ways, mess up your lighting, and cause reflections.

You don’t want your gear or lights to reflect in the water and get in the way.

Watch out for reflections and be ready to move the lights before you find the right arrangement. If not, you’ll have to spend a lot of time in Photoshop getting rid of all those annoying reflections.

Your camera settings

No matter how much you know about photography, we have a few tips for you if you’re new to taking pictures of beer.

  • If you want to play around with your phone’s camera settings, you can switch to manual mode with apps like Lightroom mobile or Moment.
  • When shooting freehand in low light, try to keep your shutter speed to no more than 1/125. If you want to take a picture of something moving, like a beer pour, you’ll probably need to start with a minimum shutter speed of 1/800 and go faster from there.
  • Want to freeze the splash of beer that comes out of the can when you open it? Try starting at 1/1600 and playing around with it. Between 1/800 and 1/1600 is my sweet spot, which is unique to me.
  • Choose your f-stop based on how you want the final picture to look. Do you want a clear shot from above with lots to look at? Shoot with an aperture of at least f/4 and then increase the f-stop from there.
  • If you want a smooth, nearly creamy picture where nothing but the main subject is in focus, shoot it wide open. When I’m taking a straight-on shot of a beer, I like to play with the aperture between f/3.5 and f/4.0 to get a nice, equally focused shot with nice bokeh.
  • If you want to capture how your beer moves in any way, make sure to set your camera’s shutter speed to continuous shooting mode, to have the best chance of getting a beautiful shot of something moving.
  • Focus mode
    Since beer doesn’t move around much, you can use the One-Shot mode instead of AI Servo, which I usually suggest. One-Shot lets you set up your pictures and focus on them without worrying that the focus will move.
  • ISO + Shutter Speed
    In general, you want to make sure there is as little noise as possible. If you use a tripod, you can use a lower ISO and shutter speed to cut down on noise.

Beer photos need proper lighting

As the earth moves around the sun, even the light changes. This means that every season is a chance to capture light or shadows in a new way. Just know that there are many fun and creative ways to capture light. Don’t be scared, look around.

A beer looks nicer when there is light traveling through it to show off the color, but not so much light that the rest of the picture is too dark.

Also, photos taken in direct sunlight tend to be washed out. Basically, don’t shine a flashlight from inside the beer, point the beer at the light, or try to take pictures of the beer in bright sunlight.

Location is important

For a lifestyle photo, you should shoot inside a brewery or a bar. If you want clean, simple lines, they are best archived indoors.

Anyhow, it depends on what feelings you like to communicate and what look you are going for.

If you a want clean look, simple lines, they are best archived indoors. Anyhow, it depends on what feelings you like to communicate and what look you are going for.

It’s essential to make sure that the location goes well with the beer but doesn’t overpower it. Keep the beer in focus by using a shallow depth of field. And make sure the background doesn’t have too much going on.

Watch the background

Change the background of your photos to make them stand out. Don’t always take the picture of the beer in the same place. Try different ways to play.

Choosing a seat close to the window in the bar and cleaning up the shot doesn’t take much work. Make sure your background looks good, remove cables, electrical outlets, dirty dishes, etc in the background.

Use the right props

The most forgotten tool in photography is the prop. No matter how much experience you have as a photographer, you know that light is your most important tool. However, food photographers know that props can also change your scene in huge ways.

When taking a picture of a drink, the obvious choice is the glass, but think about the table you’re drinking at or the beautiful view you’re looking at. Use what’s around and available to give a sense of place, add texture and depth, and tell a story.

Use a few important props instead of putting a lot of them in your scene.

Since beer has a naturally warm color, the warmth of natural light will make your shot look better.

Tell a little story

A photo of beer doesn’t have to be a close-up of the bottle or can. When your photo shows some of the surroundings, it helps you put them in time and remember where and when you had that beer.

By letting the viewer know where and when the photo was taken, you add an emotional element to it that makes it easier for the viewer to connect with than a studio product shot. Often, what’s going on around a beer is just as interesting as the beer itself.

Which look – wet or matte?

The look of our bottles being wet is what makes them feel fresh. We’re used to seeing ads and commercials when we think about them. How does a professional photo studio make this effect happen?

The answer is a matte spray and glycerin, which are both must-have props. The matte spray acts as a base for the drops and makes the colors and reflections on our bottle look more appealing.

To make drops, you need to combine water with glycerin. Put the 50/50 mixture in a spray bottle and use it when needed. The beautiful result is that the water drops will become round and won’t evaporate for a long time.

If you want real condensation in a glass, start with a clean, dry, room-temperature glass. Make sure the beer is cold, and if you don’t need it right away, put it in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Fill the beer into the glass and use the straw to blow hot air around the glass to create the look of natural condensation.

The Rule of Thirds also applies to beer photography

Most of the time, we tend to put the focus of a picture right in the middle of the frame. This method makes more snapshots than photos that look like works of art. Use the rule of thirds the next time you want to try something different.

Think of your visor as a grid with three rows and three columns. Read about how to use composition to for better beer photos.

The right angle for your beer photos

Professional photographers often find new ways to look at the things they photograph. Taking a picture of a scene from an unusual angle can make it more interesting. 

Try shooting from a top view or a very low angle to get a different perspective. There are 3 camera angles you should know about.

Play with sharpness and blur

Changing the depth of field (DoF) can make for some really cool photos. For example, blurring a main object in the foreground can draw attention to details in the background that would otherwise be missed.

You can also switch this to make your bottle or can, sharp in the foreground and blur the background, so the focus will be on the bottle or can.

The effect is also called bokeh, which let’s the main subject stand out. read about what is bokeh in detail

If you’re taking a picture where some things are too close and others are far away, try focusing just on the foreground and background at different times to see which gives you a more interesting view.


Beer photography ideas


More food photography


Get more beer photo inspiration at  this 6 most famous breweries

Beer is the most-drank alcoholic drink in the world and one of the most-drank drinks overall.

1.  InBev Anheuser-Busch(Belgium)

Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is based in Belgium, is the biggest beer company in the world. It has 500 beer brands, including Budweiser and Bud Light, and is currently the biggest beer company in the world. More than 600 independent distributors and wholesalers work with the company to get its products to customers. It recently bought one of the largest British multinational brewers, SABMiller. This is likely to raise its value around the world and solidify its position as the market leader around the world.

2. Heineken (Netherlands)

Heineken, one of the largest breweries in the world, is based in the Netherlands. The company has been around since 1864. It is present in more than 70 countries, but most of its sales come from the US. Heineken makes beers like Amstel, Desperados, Affligem, Sol, Tecate, and Red Stripe that are sold locally, regionally, and internationally. On top of all of this, the Netherlands also allow people to gamble online. This means that people can play fun casino games like Book of Aztec slot from the comfort of their own homes while sipping their favorite drinks.

3. Carlsberg (Denmark)

Carlsberg has been around since 1847, and it is now one of the most successful breweries in the world. It used to be a small business, but now it is the fourth largest beer company in the world. Carlsberg has a wide range of products, with over 140 brands of beer, such as Kronenbourg, Tuborg, Somersby Cider, and Neptun. Even though the market is very competitive, Carlsberg has seen steady growth in profits and sales since the 1990s. In 2016, the company came out with a new plan called SAIL’22. This plan focused on the company’s core operations and areas where it could make progress in the future.

4. Molson Coors (US and Canada)

Molson Coors is a global company that has been around since 2002. It owns 31 breweries around the world. It sells many different kinds of beer, such as Coors Light, Molson Canadian, Carling, Miller Lite, and Staropramen. Molson Coors has a strong presence in the US, Canada, and the UK, which are the three largest beer markets in the world. The brewery recently merged with SABMiller, which had been a rival for a long time. This was done to strengthen its position in the beer markets of the US and Puerto Rico.

5. Tsingtao Group of Breweries (China)

Tsingtao Brewery is one of the oldest beer companies in China, and it is becoming more and more popular around the world. The 115-year-old brewery is in more than 100 countries and makes many different kinds of beer, including the popular Tsingtao beer. At the moment, the company is making more customized products to meet the needs and tastes of a wide range of customers. It also wants to make its presence stronger in European countries by working with different partners.

6. Asahi (Japan)

Asahi Breweries is one of the best beer companies in Japan. It has been around since 1889. After making the Asahi Super Dry beer brand, this brewery stayed at the top of sales in that country for twelve years. Today, it makes many different kinds of beer, like Asahi Stout and Asahi Black, to meet the needs of a wide range of customers. Asahi Breweries is also adding food products and pharmaceuticals to its list of products.

Frequently asked questions

What do you call the foam on a beer?

A beer head, which can also be called the beer collar, is the foamy layer on top of a beer that is caused by bubbles of gas, mostly carbon dioxide, rising to the top. The head is made up of wort protein, yeast, and leftover hops. During the fermentation process, the carbon dioxide that causes bubbles in the head is made.

How to make foam for beer?

After a while, the foam that forms when you pour beer into a glass goes away. Sprinkling a little salt in a beer is a surefire way to make the head come back. Make sure not to pour too much at once, or the foam will overflow. Salt is cheap and easy to find, so adding it is a good idea. The problem with salt is that it doesn't always do what you expect it to do. This is especially true if you are just at a restaurant or bar.

How to make beer foam with chopsticks?

This is our favorite way to get a beer head: with chopsticks. Chopsticks and beer go together in a very predictable way. You can make the head look however you want.

Should I use a macro lens to take pictures of beer?

A macro lens is not needed for beer shots, but it can be helpful. There is a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens made by both Canon and Nikon, and it can focus surprisingly close. Many people already carry that lens with them.

What is easier to photograph, a beer bottle or a beer can?

This much depends on the bottle or can's size, shape, and finish. The more beautiful the container is, the easier it will be to make a good picture of it. Glass is more reflective, but it can be hard to really get light to wrap around the whole beer can and show off the graphics.

How to make a beer can look good in a photo?

With beer cans, a few droplets of condensation or fake ice crystals can really make things look more appealing. Putting a glass of beer or other items near them can also help a lot. Try using wide lenses and dramatic camera angles.

How to make a fake beer head that looks foamy?

Using powdered egg whites and an acid-like lemon juice, you can find recipes for giving your fake beer a foamy head. If this sounds too hard, you could just put a Mento in a pint mug and add ginger beer or root beer a few minutes before you need the prop. Spray the top with hairspray when it starts to foam up. This will work for a while.

What are the best props for beer photography?

The combination of beer and wood always looks good, whether it's on a table or as a background. It's always a good idea to have a variety of beer glasses available that can fit the size and shape of a bottle or can.

How to make fake condensation on beer bottles?

This is very easy and is done with a simple spray bottle and a mixture of 50 percent vegetable glycerin and 50 percent water. It won't run for hours while it's on the bottle.

What is your take on how to Start with Beer Photography? Let us know in the comments!

By Furoore team member Silvain

Silvain is a French/German national and has been with the Furoore Team since the beginning. He likes to write about various photography themes, especially food photography. If you leave a comment, he will come back to you to answer any questions you may have.

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