Dee Stecco

No matter how cool Bob Ross (R.I.P.) may look as he brush-strokes all of those “happy little trees” on The Joy of Painting, you’ve probably never considered converting your bedroom into an all-out art studio. And neither has Dee Stecco, who stages beautiful photos of beer for her Instagram account “@beerliveshere” with various makeshift techniques -- even though her elegantly composed shots look like they were crafted in a professional space. (She also sometimes shoots outside, like she did for the stunning Fieldwork Hazy Train train tracks image above!) The truth is, she’s not even a full-time photographer -- she somehow finds the time to create these incredible images while working a an IT job for a healthcare company.
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Welcome back to The Best Beer Photographer in the World Is..., an ongoing series in which we highlight the greatest beer photographers on the planet, and invite them to tell us the stories behind their best and favorite photos. For this edition, we spoke to Stecco from her home in the beer paradise known as Asheville, North Carolina.

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How she began taking photos (and doing stop-motion videos) of beer:

“At the end of 2013, I had one bottle of [Russian River] Pliny leftover from a trip to California I’d taken that year. It was Christmastime, and Pliny is red and green. And I thought, ‘Man, this is the last bottle I’m going to have for a really long time. Let me take a picture of it.’ So I had this green shelf -- in my bathroom of all places -- and I had some Christmas decorations on there, so I kind of plopped the bottle on there and took a picture.

“When I looked at it, I thought, ‘This is kind of nice! Maybe I should do more pictures like this. I like beer, and I don’t see anybody doing anything like this.’ I took that photo on my phone, though I’ve started incorporating my DSLR recently. But overall, all my stop-motion videos and pictures are done with my cell phone, and I just wait for the lighting to be okay.”

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How she manages to make her shots look so professional:

“I have a lot of white posterboard that I arrange in all sorts of ways to work with the natural light from the windows. It’s quite a spectacle. It’s very unprofessional, but it works. I arrange those boards to cast some shadows away and work with the natural light in the window.

“I love good fonts and good logos, so I appreciate what the beer industry’s been doing in the past few years. It’s just ridiculous: not just with the quantity of great beer, but with how creative breweries are getting. I love grabbing inspiration from what the breweries are doing.” To wit: her gorgeous photo of Denver, Colorado’s Crooked Stave L’Brett D’Raspberry.

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Her most beautiful shot:

“This photo of To Øl Sur Centennial is the first of my #paintedblh series. I use inspiration from the can/bottle to create a painted background.” Fun fact: if you visit Copenhagen like one of our lucky writers did, you can visit Danish brewery To Øl’s bar with Mikkeller, aptly named Mikkeller & Friends.

On the perils of working with tropical fruit:

“Opening a coconut ain't easy. I threw it on the floor a few times with no luck until I finally grabbed a screwdriver and cracked it.” We think this photo of Avery Coconut Porter was worth the effort.

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