It’s prop talk time! (For those of you who are new to this blog: once a month I write a post about some of my favorite food photography props. You can see all previous prop talk installments by clicking the Behind the Scenes tab in the menu at the top).
Today’s post is about beer. Beer is a wonderful prop. It can also be a subject, of course, but I’ve only ever photographed it as a prop, meaning as a supporting character in the background, not as the star of the photo. What I love about beer is the action and immediacy that it adds to an image. When you see beer with a nice topping of foam you know someone must have just been there to pour it. That tiny cue breathes life into an image in a way that few other props manage to accomplish (one exception to that is steam, which I will talk about next month).
Beer isn’t easy to handle though. For once, you have to be ready because the foam disappears quickly. I always have my shutter remote control in one hand, a freshly opened beer bottle in the other and start to snap away as soon as I pour. It usually takes a few tries to get it the way I want it so I always keep a large empty glass next to the set to pour “used” beer into.
Another crucial aspect is the color of the beer. Some beers are so pale they look thin and almost colorless in a photo. To avoid that I use fairly dark beers (New Castle Brown Ale is my favorite). If you want to give the shot extra action appeal you can fill only part of the glass to make it look as if someone had just drunk half of it. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to drink too much “used” beer while still in the process of shooting, it will impact your photographic performance. :)
Below are a few examples of how I’ve used beer as a prop:
From post Chicken Salad.