Beer. There is nothing else quite like it. To quote Frank Zappa, “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.”


I’ve been sporadically hired to photograph food and other culinary assignments occasionally for several years now for a variety of restaurants, chefs, catering companies and bars/pubs, etc., and as much as I really enjoy doing it, I’ve never considered it a staple of my job. Nature photography, events and weddings are what keeps the lights on and bellies fed. About a month ago I came across and read a couple of articles and blog posts that have been slowly sinking in and “fermenting” in my head. This had everything to do with making a solid effort to add culinary photography to my regular list of offerings.

~ click on images to enlarge ~


I spent most of this week researching, gathering ideas, communicating with chefs, sous chefs and beverage distributors in an effort to see what I needed to do to bring culinary photography to the table and be able to offer it at the level that meets or exceeds the requirements of my clients and buyers. Two days ago I spent most of an entire day putting together a (now nearly finished) portable photography studio complete with props, dishware, and all manner of miscellaneous “accoutrements” to get started.


Last night I started photographing beer and really enjoyed it. Rarely does something like this come so easily to me but in reality, I was using the almost exact approach I take to doing macro photography with wild orchids in the outdoors. Lighting and depth of field is everything. At least this time I was indoors and didn’t have to struggle with shifts in wind, clouds and tree shadows.


Part of this shoot was deliberately set to be difficult. I wanted the location to be somewhere that is not ideal for shooting. Not enough room to move around, place equipment or props, windows in the wrong places affecting light and a mix of light sources that I couldn’t control. All of this in an effort to reproduce less-than-ideal conditions as is usually the case when doing these kinds of on-location shoots for my clients and customers.

And where did I find such a place? All of these images were shot in my own bedroom on top of my bed! Can’t get further from the studio than that!


 Over the next several months I will be doing a lot of this kind of work on top of my regular shooting to fill out a culinary photography portfolio and begin to expand gently into that market as well. I’ve got the galleries on our website already set up, so it looks like this project is a go! Visit the new galleries here, where they will be updated daily for at least the next couple of months.


And to answer the inevitable question…. what happened to all the beer after the shoot? All I can say it was magically delicious!

Bottoms up!

Rich Leighton
February 7, 2013
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