Home My photo challenge Drink up

Drink up

by Ally

In collaboration with the fabulous Jarrolds Gin

There are two things in life I know I am good at … photographing people and drinking gin!

But what about photographing gin?

Well, I can categorically say that photographing gin is a lot harder than photographing people. But as I was reminded, the purpose of the challenge wasn’t for me to find things easy, but to learn how to photograph things I have never photographed before.

I first Nichola and Jamie who make Jarrolds Gin at a networking event at the East Walls Hotel, organised by the lovely Helen and Abby at The Collective. Huge plug here to the East Walls Hotel … if anyone ever asks you to recommend somewhere to stay in Chichester – the East Walls Hotel is definitely the place! Extremely central, with beautifully decorated rooms and plenty of character.

Anyway, back to the gin! I knew Jarrolds Gin was local, but I hadn’t realised just how local. Nichola and Jamie live only a stone’s throw away from me, and they produce their gin in a purpose built distillery in their back garden. And it is absolutely fabulous! If you haven’t tried it yet, you absolutely must.

This is what Nichola and Jamie say about their gin:

Jarrold’s is a small batch copper pot distilled London Dry Gin made with care and attention in Chichester, West Sussex. Seven botanicals are harmoniously blended with a distinct note of Juniper, which is then combined with refreshing local water to a robust 48% ABV. Grains of Paradise open up your palate and let the bouquet of the Angelica and the ginger of the Calamus root come through. Persian Limes add a delightful hint of citrus (we remove the pips by hand so there’s no bitterness) and Coriander and Cardamom offer just the right amount of fragrance. Of course, there’s Juniper in there too and we put a little bit more in than most because we like it that way.

Now to the photographs … I had the bottle of gin, I had the glasses … I just had to make them look good! As I found out the secret of a good drink photograph is to have a light source behind the glass to help light up the liquid, and to avoid getting too many reflections off the glass. But that is easier said than done.

At first, I thought I’d be able to capture some good photos with natural light, but this turned out to be impossible! After trying various set ups, next to various windows in the house, I gave up and I grabbed my flash. I dialled down the flash to it’s lowest setting, and placed it to the left and slightly behind the drinks. Finally I was getting somewhere! A reflector on the other side evened up the lighting so my pictures finally looked a little bit more like the image I had in my head.

Ice! You can’t have gin without ice … but ice cubes melt quite easily. Luckily Amazon sell acrylic ice cubes and they’re available on Prime (I don’t know how I ever survived before Amazon Prime existed!). They are so realistic, I love them! I have no idea what I will ever use them for in the future, but they are awesome!

I also bought some glycerin because I’d read that spraying your glass with a mixture of water and glycerin can create that beautiful cold glass effect … I tried it! And I didn’t like it! Maybe my mix wasn’t quite right, or maybe I used the wrong type of spray bottle, but it looked awful, so I quickly washed off the glass and carried on without it.

Once I had a set up that worked, I was able to experiment a little bit. My wooden floor vinyl didn’t disappoint once again, and I love the wintery feel of the photographs. I also love how the pink grapefruit is lit up by the flash making its colour really pop.

Do you remember my blog about the orange? If not, you can read about it here. You may remember I bought a sheet of plexiglass to create a reflection. Well, that’s one item I wasn’t sure I would ever use again, but I was able to re-use it for this shot too. The reflection of the gin bottle and the glass is quite subtle, but I think it adds something extra to the mix.

And finally, I decided to do a light colour shot. I did bend the rules slightly for this image … One rule in photography, is not to mix natural light with flash! You either use one or the other! But I’m a bit of a rebel, and I had an idea! I placed my white background in front of my patio doors, therefore allowing the natural light to essentially backlight my shot. I still used my flash to light up the items I was photographing, and a reflector to create an even light.

One thing I feel strongly about is adding a human element to product photography. Things don’t exist by themselves … they are made by humans for humans, and I often feel it is important to reflect this. So, of course, I jumped in the shot, or rather my hand did, and added some more tonic to my gin.

So here we are … one more challenge completed! If you have ever wondered how to get these amazing photographs of drinks … well, here are my tips. If you’re a photographer and have done it before, please let me know what worked for you?

And finally, I’d like to thank Nichola and Jamie for this collaboration. It’s been great fun! And I hope you like the photos.

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