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ADDIE CHINN'S TOP 5 TIPS FOR TAKING PROFESSIONAL DRINKS PHOTOS AT HOME

As nights on the town are swapped for stretchy clothes and cocktail experiments in the kitchen… we’re a couple of weeks in now and your Cosmo tastes professionally-made and looks somewhat sensational. Such triumphant efforts are certainly worth sharing with your insta followers - and this is where we’re here to help! We’ve asked one of our favourite drinks photographers Addie Chinn, for some of his liquid lens knowledge on making those cocktail snaps really shine. Follow his top tips and you’ll be shooting like a pro in no time…

If you haven’t heard of Addie, he’s a London-based photographer who works with award-winning cocktail bars, niche innovative brands and big brands alike… he’s also photographed eleven food & drinks books, is an all-round lovely human and MOST importantly he takes all our pics for London Cocktail Week! Just take a look at his Instagram account (@addiechinn) for some serious inspiration.

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Addie has rounded up some key points to focus on, making sure that whether you’re in a one-bedder with your camera phone or have a bit more space to play with and fancy dusting off that SLR, these tips all apply.

Time to start shaking and get creative!

ADDIE’S TIP 5 TIPS…
1. Shoot With Purpose
The goal here is to create the best possible image of the most perfect drink you can make. Not to drink it – at least not yet. That comes after. So be patient, stay on target, take your time, have a plan. If you are particularly keen/desperate/thirsty, feel free to make two drinks: one for you and one for the camera (which you can then drink afterwards as well – it’s a tough gig). I’m a fan of telling stories with my drink photography: what kind of person is drinking? What time of day or even year; what era in history? Where in the world? What’s the occasion? I often find inspiration in non-photographic and even non-drink practices – architecture, TV, art, literature, history – and recreate or at least hint at these through sets, props, glassware, and various subtle visual cues. While you don’t need to go the whole hog, it can be fun to try recreate other spaces within a corner of your home: a favourite bar or hotel, a different season, a room in the house of a literary character. Just one or two details can change the feel of your photo and elevate your image.

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2. Know Your Light
Being locked-down indoors provides a rare opportunity to get to know the light that passes through your home. Observe and learn where – and when – it gets its best light. Keep a note if you need to. This way, when you’re ready to photograph your cocktail of choice, you know exactly when and where to make it happen. I suggest looking for light that shapes rather than flattens (i.e. it creates highlights in your ice, passing through your drink and along the edge of your glassware, and strong shadows on your tabletop). So you’ll usually be looking for early morning, late afternoon, or if there’s a clear sky even towards sunset. Experiment with desk lamps at night if you need to, but for me nothing beats low sunlight if you have a garden, or window light if you’re indoors.

3. Pick an Angle
As a very loose rule of thumb, shooting directly from above is great for plated food (which often lacks height) or shooting into wide and/or short glasses (so tumblers or classic martini glasses, rather than flutes which get can get distorted from that angle) alternatively it’s perfect for fancily-garnished numbers. Shooting head on is pleasingly geometric and great for contemporary glassware. A slightly downward angle can recreate the visual experience you have as a drinker sat at a table or bar, and is ideal for tabletop settings with a select few lifestyle props. While an upward angle (shot with your camera or phone below the surface with the drink on it, and looking at an angle upwards) can create a sense of heroism or wonder.

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4. Prepare Your Actors
It’s the little things that can make or break your final image. So before you’ve started pressing that shutter button, now is the moment to take your time and be detail-oriented. Once you’ve decided where the best light is, create a space fit for purpose: remove all the stray iPhone cables in the background, sweep up the cat hair, polish out the stains on the tabletop or counter or windowsill. If you want to include a few props to help tell the story of when/where/why your drink is being drunk, remember that nothing should distract from your cocktail – even better: every single aspect of the scene should help lead the eye towards it. Group your props in odd numbers, don’t go overboard, and give everything space to breathe. Ensure your glass is polished to perfection and shoot a test image with it in place, while empty, tweaking any props before you even shake your cocktail. To avoid fingerprints on glassware, use a clean tea towel to move it into the right spot. When everything is set, prep your drink (whether that’s shaken, stirred or coming out of a bottle) off-camera, carefully add the ice to your drink (the clearer the ice the better; if you’re feeling fancy and have time on your hands, Camper English has a great series about making crystal clear ice at home) being mindful of those fingerprints and take another test shot. Have your garnish and all ingredients to hand.

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5. Pull The Trigger
There is an old adage from the Savoy’s Harry Craddock that one should drink your cocktail “while it’s laughing,” and the same is true of photographing one. Fill your drink 80-90% of the way, add your garnish, get the camera ready and then pour in the final top of drink and shoot a good few frames one after the other. If you’re shooting a sour or something with a frothy head then you might need to let it settle for a few seconds then shoot some more frames. Remember too that sunlight moves fast, so if you take too long then you’ll have to re-set and chase your nice lighting. Hence all the prep beforehand.