How to shoot great photos of a bar just like the pros do

By Sam Bygrave

You’ve hired that crack team of bartenders, searched for the best spirits, crafted a kickass cocktail list. You’ve thrown open the doors and you want to get the name out there. One way of doing that is by getting good-looking photos of your bar done for press purposes — here’s what you need to know.

You need to take high-resolution photos*

Generally, the higher the megapixels on your camera, the higher the resolution the final image will be — and the better it will look in print. It also means that the files you send will be big, ranging from around 1MB to 10MB and higher. Your photographer might send your photos to you in a high-res and low-res version — generally the low-res will be a snaller file size, more suited to displaying on the web. Print mags, like Australian Bartender, need the images at full size.

 *But don’t try emailing every boozewriter and blogger those files

These files can be big. If you send these via your email, they’ll take for ever to send, and worse, it’ll take the recipient a long time to download, spoiling that first impression. Instead, use a file sharing service, like or Dropbox.


Put away the flash!

In the absence of a professional set up, the tripod is your friend, said photographer Steve Brown. “When shooting interiors you want to capture the light and atmosphere the way it is during trade,” he said. “The most useful piece of equipment is a tripod. Locking the camera off on a tripod means you can use a longer exposure and won’t have to resort to using your flash. Too much flash will overpower the ambient light and you will loose the atmosphere of your interior.

Get creative, but leave instagram to the bloggers

It’s important that you find a range of different angles to shoot — you want to give editors and others who will write about your bar as many options as they need. “Do a mixture of wide angle room shots, more intimate setups with various seating areas, bar areas and interesting details you might have around your venue,” Brown said.But avoid putting filters on or getting too carried away “artistically” — instagram is not an editor’s friend.

Shooting drinks isn’t easy

“This is the tricky part,” says Brown. “Without expensive lighting the best light for food or drinks is natural daylight. Soft directional light by a window is the best. You want to avoid hard sunlight. You also want to avoid shooting drinks or food with mixed lights, down lights or fluoros.”

Consider getting a pro to do the job

So how can you find a good snapper? “Word of mouth is always good so ask around,” said Brown. “Industry magazines are also a good resource for finding photographers.”

They’ll be worth every penny you spend, too, considering the kind of set up they’ll bring with them. “When I shoot an interior job, I would typically have a tripod, a range of lenses from wide angle, through to close-up macro and a laptop,” said Brown, who will bring a range of lighting solutions with him on the job. “We shoot tethered to the computer so every shot goes directly on screen so we don’t get any surprises after the shoot.”

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