As the old saying goes, “If a beer is drunk in a bar, and no one sees your photo of it...did you even really drink it in the first place?” Regardless of how popular this idiom may be (it’s not), the notion it expresses is a bunch of b.s. You don’t need to document your beverage to enjoy it!
With that said, social media platforms such as Instagram and Untappd do have their merits: tracking new beer finds and recording tasting notes is well worth the effort when a beer is stumbled upon for a second time, or a similar style is encountered. Plus, your notes and pictures can be used and shared by others for reference. It pays to take pride in your beer photos.
As an experienced beer Instagrammer, I’ve taken over 2,000 photos both for personal and brand-commissioned posts, whether in-studio or on-location with just an iPhone (check out The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You for a great read on phone photography). Here are six of my own tips to improve all of your shots, and make a greater impact with your posts.
Find the Sunlight
If you’re day drinking, first off: bravo. Second, natural light is your friend. Find a large window in the bar or restaurant and try to sit close by. Put the light between you and the bar, and take a well-lit photo of your drink. If daylight isn’t available, try to find large sources of light that aren’t directly overhead, as these will cast more pleasing shadows.
align:center width:800 credits:"Nick Britsky"
A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
Your friends and family probably have more important things to do than read pages and pages of beer descriptors. Why not communicate as much information as you can through the photo, and use text for bonus info? Look for backgrounds with the bar or brewery logo, or name of the establishment, and be sure to get that in the shot. You can also use menus or beer lists to serve a similar purpose.
align:right width:500 credits:"Nick Britsky"
Drinking with a friend will not only save your seat when you go to the bathroom, but will allow you to compare tasting notes. Detroit photographer Doug Coombe taught me that a friend can also provide portable lighting by holding his or her phone over a dimly lit beer with the flashlight function enabled. Try having your pal moving the phone around to experiment with different lighting angles. I’ve found that overhead and just to the right often makes for a great shot.
width:450 align:right credits:"Nick Britsky"
This trick requires a few tools, but is well worth the extra work. You will need a sheet of white paper, tape, and scissors. Cut a slightly smaller version of your beer glass out of paper, and hold it up behind the beer with a piece of tape. This will lighten up the beer for the photo and show off more of the bubbles in your shot.
Filters Are Awful
Your phone is so much more powerful than the cheesy preset filters built into your social apps. Stick to adjusting the custom settings such as brightness, contrast, and warmth. Each of these will give you lots of control, and can greatly improve a photo. Saturation and sharpen are also helpful, but use them with caution: you can overdo it very easily with these two.
Stick it to your Beer
A brimming beer looks delicious, but will fall flat without a nice, fluffy head on top. If your beer has been sitting for awhile, or doesn’t make it to you quickly enough after its pour, grab a wooden skewer or toothpick and stir towards the top. You’ll get a blast of foam perfect for a tasty image. Just note that this only works once per beer and must be done very briefly, or you’ll cause a beer geyser (see photo below). And the stirrer must be wood, as plastic will not yield comparable results. This trick has been my secret weapon for years.
width:800 credits:"Nick Britsky"
Hopefully these tricks will up your social beer game. If you have any other tips, leave a comment below!