Cocktail Photography Tips to Improve Your Drink Images

Cocktail photography can be a lot of fun, but it can also be challenging to create drink images that will make people stop and stare. This post shares some professional cocktail photography styling tips to help you improve your drink images.

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Cocktail Photography Tips

Cocktail Photography Styling Tips

Shooting drinks poses some different challenges in comparison to shooting food. While the same photography principles apply to drink and food photography, there are a few things to take into consideration when it comes to styling beautiful images of drinks, including:


Are you ready to dive into some drinks tips? Let’s do it! 😉

Martini on black with gold olive

Drink Photography Styling Tools

Glass Cleaning Cloths

Glass cleaning cloths are a MUST on set when you’re photographing drinks. You’d be surprised how easily glassware will pick up dust and finger prints. It can be pretty time consuming to correct those unwanted marks during post production, so get some cleaning cloths and keep your glassware as clean as you can on set.

Cotton Gloves

Along with glass cleaning cloths, using cotton gloves to handle the glassware is incredibly helpful to keep dust and smudges away. I have a variety of these in my home studio and they have saved me a lot of extra editing time.

Museum Putty

Museum putty is one of the cheapest, but most effective food and drink styling tools. When you photograph drinks, you may notice that sometimes the glass doesn’t always look straight in the frame. Sometimes it looks like it’s leaning slightly too far in one direction even though it’s technically sitting straight. Adding a bit of museum putty to “straighten” the drink to the camera frame can be incredibly helpful.

Ice Cube Trays

A lot of cocktail photography requires ice. Making your own is a fun styling idea to help you get a little more creative with the styling of your drinks. Of course, you can use the crushed ice in your fridge. But, with the variety of ice cube trays available, you can create a bunch of different shapes and sizes to play with. Plus, ice cube trays are much cheaper than buying customized fake ice.

Double Diffusion

One of the biggest challenges with shooting glassware are those unwanted reflections that show up on the glass. I highly recommend experimenting with double diffusion, which means that you use two diffusors to modify the light instead of just one.

I like to fire my strobe through a large softbox or a strip box while placing a larger diffusor in front of it. This really helps tone down the reflections so they look soft and natural instead of too bright and overpowering.

It can also help to position the light towards the back of your drink as opposed to the side, so the reflection falls towards the very edge of the glass.


Cocktail Photography Styling Tips


Similar to food photography, there are three very popular angles to consider when shooting drinks:

  • 3/4 ANGLE

It’s important to experiment with different ways of viewing your drink images so you can create a variety for your portfolio. Different perspectives require you to think differently about the composition and the lighting. But, showing off a variety will enhance your skills behind the camera and make your portfolio stand out to potential clients.

Cocktail Photography Angles


Lighting is a whole other topic of discussion in photography. Whether you use natural light or artificial light, adjusting the position and controlling the power of your light source helps you to create different moods for your drink images. Check out my blog post that dives deeper into different lighting setups for drink photography.

See some images below for the following lighting setups:


From left to right and top to bottom:

Side light, side/back light, back light

Gels, hard light, soft light

Cocktail Photography Lighting

Cocktail Photography Props

Variety Of Glassware

I highly recommend having a variety of glassware on hand for your cocktail photography. Glasses come in many different shapes and sizes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different glasses. Being able to show off your skills through glassware is a great way to keep your drink portfolio and social media feed visually interesting.

Surfaces & Backdrop Variations

Using different surfaces and backdrops always brings your images to life. The surfaces are a very important part of the food photography creative process and can range from wood, slate, dark, light, marble, foam board and seamless papers. Oh, and don’t forget to try some reflective surfaces too! It’s amazing how just switching out colors or textures can affect the mood of the image. When you think about the creative direction for your drink images, consider if you want a more dark and moody look or a light and airy look and pick surfaces accordingly.


Ingredients & Garnishes as Props

Dishes, silverware, glassware and linens are always top of mind when it comes to props, but you can also use ingredients as props. They can be a really beautiful part of the food or drink story and help the images feel natural. Don’t be afraid to use raw ingredients to give your drink images a little extra visual appeal.

Fake Ice

Fake ice is one of my favorite things to work with on set. Since the cubes are fake, they won’t melt, so it eliminates that time-sensitive issue with using real ice. Fake ice, however, can be VERY expensive depending on where you order it from. My advice is to order some simple fake ice cubes from Amazon so you can start experimenting without breaking the bank.

Cocktail Photography Styling Tips

Capture Action

Splashes, Pours & Swirls

Splashes, pours and swirls in cocktail photography are a fun way to jazz up your drink photography. There is a trick with it, though.

The key is to setup your camera on a tripod and not move it during the shoot.

Capture a nice, clean shot of the empty glass first.

Then, you can splash, pour and swirl until you capture the action that looks the best. Once you have a clean shot of the empty glass and your perfect action shot, you can piece the images together through an editing technique called compositing.

Compositing is when you take parts of different images to create one final image. Read more about this in the post below.


In conclusion, cocktail photography styling is a really fun process. While it takes practice and planning ahead, it definitely helps you improve your skills and diversify your portfolio. Have fun, keep practicing and reach out with questions anytime!

Cheers and Happy Shooting!

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click or make a purchase through my site, I might make a small commission (at no extra cost to you). I only promote products and equipment that I actually use and support. 

All images ©Regan Baroni 2021.

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