How to Shoot Coffee Photography, 13 Tips for the Perfect Cup

Silvain • updated July 15, 2022 • 5 min read

13 Best Tips for Coffee Photography

A cup of coffee can also be enjoyed from a photographic point of view. Do you also love the fresh smell of coffee in the morning?

No matter in which form, the caffeinated beverage is a trendy pick-me-up. In Coffee Photography the various creations can be tricky – whether they are hot or cold coffee specialties.

The top priority is to present the drink in an appealing and appetizing way. Even with the use of simple tools you can produce impressive coffee photos.


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As with any sensible lifestyle topic, photography plays an important role when it comes to coffee. Platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are now full of espresso shots, literally.

The fact is that food photography can transport not only images and impressions, but also emotions and moods. Because coffee is an absolutely passionate and sometimes emotional subject for many, the ever-popular hot beverage simply works well in pictures and videos.

image shows a photo composition with coffee cups
Composition with coffee cups, @Cyril Saulnier

1. Great coffee photography takes more than  Instagram filters

For an authentic and atmospheric coffee picture, however, it takes more than Instagram filters and a steady hand. In this article, we present you with tips on how to skillfully showcase coffee.

image shows coffee can, cups and cake in soft light
Make use of soft light, @Jonathan Borba

2. What to look for in a coffee picture?

When you’re as passionate about making and drinking coffee as we are, you inevitably end up with a picture or two. We pay attention to various factors. In terms of lighting conditions, we prefer to work with large, soft, or good punctual light.

An absolute must-have for us is a tidy background. Too often, we see potentially cool shots ruined by a trash can or laundry pile in the background. We like working with a small focus area.

3. Planning the coffee photo session

Precise planning of the shoot makes sense. After all, the longer a photo session lasts, the faster the coffee can collapse. Unsightly coffee rims form on the cup. The milk froth on the cappuccino goes bye-bye or the layers in the latte macchiato are no longer nicely visible.

image shows a vintage coffee grinder
Vintage coffee grinder, @Artturi_Mantysaari

4. Timing is important

The timing has to be right. First, think about which drink you are photographing and put together your set (glasses, background, props). What light and props do you want to use to support the story in your photo?

Maybe an old coffee grinder in the background or coffee beans in the background around the edge of the cup? Do you want to include people in the photo? There are endless possibilities.

5. Take many different pictures

We recommend shooting in different ways and paying close attention to the backdrops, texture, and props. Capture the steps of making coffee, such as grinding the beans and sipping hot coffee from a cup.

6. Create a story

If you want to tell a story with your shots, you need to know how people relate to caffeine. Think about how people feel when they drink coffee and why it’s important to many of us every day.

image shows a coffee droplet captured
Fast Shutter speed, to capture motion, @icciofa

7. Use a quick shutter speed

We recommend that you learn about shutter speed. The faster the shutter speed, the easier it will be to take a picture of a single droplet. You will also be able to create some real separation in the image.

image shows a stainless steel coffee machine
Stainless steel coffee machine, @KevinSchmid

8. Present coffee in the right light

Coffee is versatile and can look different in different lighting conditions. In this post, we’re primarily talking about images that depict a cup of coffee. Here, the light-filled premises of a café or the open sky can serve as a suitable backdrop.

Bright light makes the contrast of the dark coffee look stronger. At the same time, the usually bright coffee service thus shines particularly strongly. Even a meticulously polished portafilter machine benefits from good lighting conditions.

Especially if the machine has many stainless steel elements, the combination with bright light makes for an almost magnificent motif. Of course, there are also coffee photos that look particularly aesthetic precisely because of the absence of light.

There are no limits when it comes to trial and error. Of course, some objects are better suited than others, but in general, just about anything can be put in a proper light and look good in a photo – provided the composition is well thought out and the object is staged with appropriate utensils.

image shows cup of coffe with bean bad as prop
Use bean bags as prop,@MikeKenneally

9. Use coffee beans and bean bags

For example, it is popular among photographers to snap ungrounded coffee beans and bean bags in relatively dark lighting conditions. After all, this is the raw product, which only comes to life and shines through expert preparation.

10. Tricks for special coffee pictures

You have a suitable subject and perfect lighting conditions – so far, so good. Now it’s a matter of focusing on the essentials. In the world of photography, focus offers a way to do just that.

By playing around a bit with the aperture value, for example, you can influence the depth of field of the image. This makes certain parts of the image appear sharper than others.

A popular method is to blur the background of the coffee. This way, the image viewer has no other option but to look at the cup of coffee.

image shows a cup of coffee with artificial steam
Cup of coffee with artificial steam, @Pfüderi

11. Adding steam to the photo

If you want to photograph hot drinks, you can use a little trick to make the subject look even tastier: A little steam works wonders.

Alternatively, you can try to capture the smoke directly while taking the photo. The best way to do this is with a cigarette or an incense stick placed behind the cup. Just don’t let anything burn.

You can also add some steam afterward. Programs like Photoshop and countless YouTube tutorials make it possible. However, when it comes to image editing, it’s hard to draw a clear line.

  • Today, many photographers go back to a natural style and let the subject speak for itself.

12. Image editing, the final step

Through image editing, you can subsequently influence the sharpness of individual image elements and also test different depths of field here.

In principle, modern image editing software and even some apps offer many ways to get more out of a coffee image.

In addition to image properties such as contrast, saturation, and sharpness, certain image effects can be enhanced.


13. How to quickly create a coffee photo with Latte Art

Latte Art – Two hearts,@ermaltahiri

It is idolized by many as an elixir of life, but it is also ideal for photos – coffee. It is very suitable as a motif due to its variability and thanks to a wide variety of preparation methods; it can always be staged anew.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Coffee
  • Cup / glass
  • Light source (large window, studio light, etc.)
  • Tripod
  • Small decorative elements (props) like coffee beans, plants, etc.

STEP 1

First, you should decide where in your home you want to take the picture. Since you’ll probably have a lot of darker elements in your photo, a bright spot is recommended, ideally right under a window, garden door, or otherwise bright location.

If you have to use artificial light, pay attention to its color temperature (Kelvin). Commercial incandescent lamps usually look very orange in photos, which is why the use of a small studio light can be worthwhile.

With this, you have more control over strength, color, and angle of incidence. Ideally, the color temperature should be ~ 5,000 Kelvin so that you get a pleasant white light.

STEP 2

Then prepare the selected spot for the photo. It’s best to take the photo from a fairly steep angle or directly downwards from a bird’s eye view. A wooden table or other strong textures are suitable as a base, as they give the image more character.

If you don’t have a wooden table, you can also use coffee beans, a jute bag, or some branches and plants. There are no limits to your creativity here, just go wild until you like the way the picture looks.

STEP 3

It’s a good idea to position your camera on a tripod in advance and point it at your subject while you’re decorating. This way, you can see directly how the individual elements will look and interact with each other in the final picture.

If you photograph without a tripod, you have the additional problem that you will always have a slightly different perspective and image detail, and you will find adjustments in the decoration a little more difficult.

STEP 4

Once the preparations are complete, you can finally add the coffee. Depending on how skilled you are as a barista, you can create an additional mood with some latte art, but even black coffee should now look pretty cool.

It’s best to fill the cup with fresh coffee that is still steaming and looks very natural due to the small bubbles. Cold coffee usually looks a bit stale and boring in photos.

image shows a coffee glass with milk flow
Milk flow, @Empreinte

STEP 5

If you use a glass, you can also photograph this sideways and slowly let the milk flow into it. This should create really cool “milk clouds” as it mixes with the coffee. This makes a really great subject for your photo!


More food photography inspiration:


Coffee photo ideas

 

Still no idea how to make a coffee? Try this easy coffee ideas:

What is your opinion on coffee 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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