Totally Instagrammable: Getting The Perfect Shot—Part Two

Tia's "Tropical Rhubarb" Smoothie

We gather some useful pointers for photographing your specialty beverages for social media success.


Cover photo courtesy of Dana Schlingman

From the editor: Last week, Dana shared some of her top tips on making your drinks stand out beyond the glossy rosetta, from picking the perfect vessel to garnishing it harder than a mint mojito at a tiki bar. Now, she gives the scoop on snapping a pic that’ll make users stop scrolling and start “liking.”

Now that you have expertly prepared and beautifully presented your specialty beverage, it’s time to pull out the camera and capture the perfect shot. In this visually driven culture, high-quality images are needed to motivate engagement on digital platforms. So, make sure your pictures put your best foot forward on your website, social media accounts, or Google My Business listing. You don’t need special equipment or a studio to capture great photographs. With the right approach, it’s possible to capture professional images with minimal expense.

Choosing an appealing garnish and vessel are just two elements of creating a like-worthy photo for Instagram. Photo courtesy of Dana Schlingman.

Shoot in the best possible light. Because the camera uses reflected light to capture the image, proper lighting is essential. Generally, indirect natural sunlight produces the best pictures (outside in the shade or inside near windows that let in diffused sunlight). Although color correction can improve images with fluorescent lighting, the flat green/yellow hue cast by artificial lighting may be difficult or impossible to completely remove with filters/presets. If you are outside in direct (bright) sunlight, try shooting from the angle where the shadow falls. Light passing through the beverage lends a luminous, vibrant quality, whereas direct light bouncing off the highlighted angle of the subject can make colors look flat and less saturated.

Dana behind the scenes shooting a photo of Lucy’s Layered Chia Pudding. Photo courtesy of Barista Pro Shop.

Compose the shot for the digital/social platform where the picture will appear. For example, if you plan to share the image on Instagram, make sure the picture can be cropped into a square. Likewise, when taking a video, make sure that you hold the phone at the correct orientation for the platform (Instagram or Facebook stories should be shot vertically). Pictures with awkwardly cropped bodies or faces are less appealing. A quick Google search will yield the ideal dimensions and size for your desired platform.

The background of your picture can lend it some extra personality and depth, such as in this shot of the Honey Hibiscus Iced Latte. Photo courtesy of Dana Schlingman.

Strategically consider the background of your picture. Don’t show off clutter or that distracting, brightly colored whatever behind your awesome latte. Make sure the background doesn’t detract from the main subject in your shot. On the flip side, patterned tile, a gorgeous wood table, or a few raw ingredients behind the beverage might really help it shine.  

Effective Instagram shots will focus on the foreground image and not have distracting background images, such as in this shot of Dana’s Coconut Cold Brew Tonic. Photo courtesy of Dana Schlingman.

Make sure the camera is focusing on the subject (not the background or the foreground). Aside from ensuring that the details in the subject remain crisp, focusing on the subject lets the automatic light meter in the camera adjust for the subject so that it’s properly exposed in the picture (not too dark or light).

And there you have it, our top tips and techniques! Now that you have the means to craft and capture beautiful signature beverages, we can’t wait to see them on your social channels. Whether you or—better yet—your fans share images of your drinks, the exposure gained is sure to increase brand recognition and reach. Innovative, beautiful, or fabulously unexpected content only adds value to your work, so give it the love it deserves.

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Dana Schlingman
 is a marketing representative for Barista Pro Shop. Specializing in promotion, she develops content for ads, blog posts, and social media. This includes managing and photographing Barista Pro Shop’s monthly Lively Libations recipe campaign. With her degree in fine art and her adventures in the coffee industry (including travels to coffee farms in Peru and time spent time working as a barista in a remote Alaskan town), she brings a creative eye and fresh perspective to BPS.

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