Queen Bee Mixology

Behind The Scenes: A Guide to Capturing Your Cocktails in Their Best Light

Behind The Scenes: A Guide to Capturing Your Cocktails in Their Best Light

Hey there, cocktail enthusiasts and photography aficionados! If you’re anything like me, you know that a beautifully crafted cocktail is not only a treat for your taste buds but also a work of art for your eyes. Just as a mixologist carefully balances flavors and textures, we too can take our cocktail game to the next level by learning how to capture these liquid masterpieces in all their glory through photography. So, grab your camera (or smartphone) and let’s dive into the world of cocktail photography, where every shot is a celebration of taste and aesthetics!

1. Set the Scene: Creating the Perfect Backdrop

Imagine this: a stunning cocktail against a background that not only complements its colors but also tells a story. Look around your home for interesting textures, fabrics, and surfaces that could serve as backdrops. Whether it’s a rustic wooden table, a vibrant tropical print, or a sleek marble countertop, the backdrop can enhance the mood of your drink and make it pop. Experiment with different backgrounds to find the one that resonates with the vibe of your cocktail. I love grabbing flowers from around the house or our office at VMG Studios to add to the backdrop, especially matching the colors of the drink to the flowers. More ideas of things to accessorize a set are vases, glassware, barware and cutting boards.

Pictured: Peach Whiskey Smash

2. Lighting Magic: Natural vs. Artificial

Lighting is the secret ingredient that can make or break your cocktail photography. Natural light is your best friend; it’s soft, flattering, and brings out the true colors of your drink. Position your setup near a window, allowing the soft daylight to work its magic. But don’t shy away from experimenting with artificial light sources too. Studio lighting is a great way to film all throughout the hours of the day and highlight different aspects of the cocktail or backdrop to create emphasis and shadows.

Pictured: Pineapple Sage Smash

3. Focus on Details: Showcasing Garnishes and Glassware

The devil is in the details, they say, and in cocktail photography, this couldn’t be more accurate. Zoom in on those intricate garnishes – the curl of a citrus peel, the sparkle of sugar crystals, or the delicate herbs floating on the surface. Pay attention to the glassware as well; the way light dances through the glass can be truly mesmerizing. Capture the condensation on the glass, the delicate bubbles rising, and the play of light on the liquid. These details tell a story of flavor, texture, and craftsmanship.

Pictured: Rosé Margarita

4. Rule of Thirds: Composing Your Shot

Let’s talk composition! The rule of thirds is your trusty guide here. Imagine your frame divided into a tic-tac-toe grid. Position the main focus of your shot – the cocktail – at the intersection points of these lines. This draws the viewer’s eye and creates a balanced, visually pleasing composition. Don’t be afraid to play around with angles – shooting from above, at a slight tilt, or even from below can yield some unexpectedly artistic results.

Pictured: Limelight

5. Action Shots: Capturing the Pour and Sip

Action shots add a dynamic element to your cocktail photography. Capture the excitement of pouring the liquid into the glass or taking that first glorious sip. These shots can transport your audience into the moment, making them feel as though they’re right there enjoying the drink themselves. Just be ready to snap away – action shots require a bit of timing, but the results are oh-so-worth it!

Pouring wine into an orange cocktail.

6. Edit with Finesse: Enhancing Colors and Vibes

Post-processing can take your cocktail photos from good to breathtaking. Use photo editing software or apps to enhance colors, adjust brightness and contrast, and play around with filters that enhance the mood you’re trying to convey. Remember, the goal is to showcase the cocktail’s true beauty, so don’t go overboard with filters. A light touch is often all you need to make your photo shine.

Pictured: Strawberry Champagne

So there you have it – your guide to capturing the essence of your favorite drinks in captivating photographs. Remember, the key is to have fun, experiment, and let your creativity flow. Cheers to stunning cocktails and even more stunning photos!


Author Meet Kelly Sparks, the creative mastermind and cocktail influencer behind @QueenBeeMixology. While mixology may not be her day job, it is her passion. As the Founder and CEO of VMG Studios, a successful and award-winning creative agency and video production studio, Kelly brings her expertise in creativity to the world of cocktails. As a self-taught and dedicated do-it-yourselfer, Kelly makes the journey to amazing cocktails accessible to everyone. And when she’s not hard at work, you can find her sipping a delicious drink with her husband.

To mix drinks like a pro, check out my go-to bar tools and glasses.