Rock Your Cocktail Photos

by Leigh Loftus 3 months ago in how to

Using only Your Cell Phone

Rock Your Cocktail Photos
Old Fashioned Cocktail - Leigh Loftus

Be honest with me for a second… have you ever used your phone to take a picture of your food, with your soul intention being to make your friends jealous #ShotOniPhone… Only to look at that photo and admit to yourself that it looks nothing at all like what’s in front of you, in fact it looks like a total piece of CRAP?!🤷🏼‍♀️

I’m here to tell you, you’ve been set-up to fail. That’s correct, you’ve been set up to fail since the very first smartphone with a built in camera was released circa 2002. . .

They say, “A Picture is worth 1000 words.” – Everyone

Since about 2011, you’ve been expected from the teacher called “social media” to pump out “pictures worth a 1000 words,” on a daily basis. Not even the best photographers in the world CAN – or WANT to do that.

What they Fail to tell you is that those 1000 words can’t be found in the latest $1300 smartphone release with the “world's best Camera”, a trending filter pack or any array of smartphone camera accessories to hit the market.

The Good News is, it’s 100% not your fault that you’ve been lead to believe any of that is what makes a “Drool-Worthy” photo.

In the restaurant world that’s just like saying… the newest oven on the market, most non-stick frying pan or sharpest knife in the world is what makes a delicious dish.

We all know that it’s the Chef that makes those delicious dishes we can’t get enough of and are dying to pay a visit after COVID19. . . And now you can see that you’ve been lied to all along, it’s not in fact any of the above me mentioned items that makes a good photograph, it’s You, the person behind the camera!

The only thing missing is the rulebook, the guidelines or the fundamental principles of how to make a great photograph!

The MOST IMPORTANT key to all photography is the Lighting. Every single time you're about to snap a photo pause and ask yourself the following:

  1. Where is the light source coming from?
  2. How is that light going to land on my subject?
  3. Can I move myself or my subject in order to have better light for this photo?

Back Light - It's perfect for Cocktail images!

The second key factor to making a great photo is your composition. Don't just grab your phone, open the camera and snap a photo without at least giving 10 seconds of thought as to how it's positioned in your frame.

Before your drink even makes it to the table ask yourself these questions:

  1. What type of glass is it being served in, is it taller or shorter? (This will help determine the orientation, vertical or horizontal)
  2. What else is on the tabletop or bar-top and do you want it to be in your shot? If not, then move it or plan to when your drink arrives.
  3. Can I create negative space on either side of the cocktail image to create more interest?

The Rule of 3rds - Negative Space

The third and final key I will share today is...

Tell a story.

If you want people to literally stop and Lick their Screens. . . or come somewhere in the ball bark of that... Then you my friend need to captivate them, invite them into the scene, allow them to feel what it's like to be there with you.

How can you bring the environment your in to life with your image?

Can you capture a live action shot:

Live Action - Use Burst Mode

Can you incorporate the bartenders hands:

Include hands

Are there items in or around you that you can bring into the shot to allow your viewer to feel like they're there with you?

Berkshire Room, Chicago - Leigh Loftus

Like any new skillset, photography comes with a set of foundational rules that when applied consistently will yield awesome results. My hope for you is that these 3 keys both help you take better photos and inspire you to learn more as these are only the tip of the iceberg!

  1. Always look at the light
  2. Compose your entire frame
  3. Tell a captivating story

If you are interested in learning more about the basics we officially release our Smartphone Photography Course July, 2020 feel free to check it out at:

Happy Shooting,


how to
Leigh Loftus
Leigh Loftus
Read next: 4 Ways To Find Inspiration As A Beginner Photographer
Leigh Loftus

An 11 year professional food and beverage photographer, launching a smartphone photography course, The Chef Shots - dedicated to teaching chefs and the culinary world how to take "Drool-Worhty" photos, using only their smartphone!!

See all posts by Leigh Loftus