Have you ever wondered how big companies like Coca-Cola or McDonalds get their drinks looking so ice cold and refreshing in their ads? You have to think – their photoshoots will take hours, even days to get the perfect shot! How can they keep the drink looking cold and keep the ice from melting while its baking under the studio lights for that long? Well, there is a secret that the pros aren’t telling us and we have the insight for you!
The drinks are not actually cold at all! That’s right, the bottles in Coca-Cola photos and the refreshing glasses of soda you see in McDonald’s ads are really being photographed at room temperature! This is so that the photography crew can have total control of the set and take as long as they need to get the money shot. There are a few tricks at play to accomplish the ice cold beverage appearance and we are going to teach you how to achieve this at home with your drink photos!
Step 1: Protect Your Area
Assuming you’ve already staged a scene or background where you will be photographing your beverage, make sure to keep it clean while prepping the glass. Cover your area by laying down paper or a drop cloth of some sort, things are about to get a little messy!
Step 2: Frosting the Glass
The frosted glass look is always stunning: you know, the look of a glass that has been in the freezer awaiting to be filled with a delicious craft brew. Sometimes if a beverage is cold enough it will frost up on its own from being exposed to warmer air surrounding it. We actually got lucky with a natural frost that occurred during the photoshoot of our Red White and Blueberry Milkshakes for the 4th of July! But we can’t always rely on luck.
To achieve the frosted look without having to actually chill the glass, spray the glass with matte finish (this is something you can find in an art supply store, like Michaels). Just a precaution: matte finish is a pain in the butt to remove! This is why we want you to protect your area before spraying! An alternative that wipes away easily is spray deodorant in an aerosol can. Whichever spray you choose, shake well before spraying and hold can at a distant of about a foot from your glass. Begin spraying the background and then move your hand side to side to lightly dust the spray evenly across the surface of your glass until covered. You only need to spray the glass on the sides that the camera will see. In our example, the glass was being held from behind and only received the matte finish on the front and sides. Depending on what type of drink you are going to be photographing, you may decide to skip this step if a frosted glass isn’t the appropriate look.
Step 3: Condensation
This is the crucial step for getting that ice cold looking beverage! Any cold drink will start to condense on the outside forming little water droplets as the ice melts. This is why coasters exist, haha! Now you might be inclined to think that this step is as simple as spraying the glass with water, but you would be wrong. We need to get those water droplets to stick to the glass and maintain their shape. Water alone would drip down the glass over time leaving you will just a puddle of water below your cup. What the pros do is create a 50/50 mixture of glycerin and water and pour into a spray bottle. If you use a small spray bottle with a fine mist, the water droplets will be smaller and produce more droplets. If you use a larger spray bottle like the one we used in the example, the droplets will be larger and more spread out. The spray style is your choice!
Now, spray your glass by compressing the spray bottle handle or nozzle with short quick motions. You do not want to compress the handle to it’s full expression, this will produce too much liquid too fast. Spritz until desired effect is achieved!
Step 4: The Ice
Now that we’ve prepared the glass to have that perfect ice cold condensation and frosted look, it’s time to add the “ice”. You won’t want to use real ice or that will defeat the purpose and you will have a melting drink on your hands! Here is where the professionals will place acrylic ice cubes into the glass. These imitation ice cubes come in all shapes in sizes and are relatively inexpensive! You can get square cubes, like the ones in our example, you can get amorphous or freeform shaped cubes, wedged cubes, crushed ice, even a large ice sphere for whiskey!
Place the ice into the glass and arrange as desired. A key tip here is to fill the glass completely to the top, even slightly peaking up above the rim of the glass. This is important to achieve a natural look because real ice floats and will float to the top to peak up out of your beverage. Acrylic ice sinks, so we have to work accordingly.
Step 5: Pour and Garnish
This step is easy peasy! Just pour in your prepared beverage, garnish, and you’re ready to shoot! Take as much time as you need behind the camera. Remember, this trick of the trade was created specifically to buy you more time and allow you to finesse!
Do not consume the beverage after photographing! Use of the matte finish, deodorant spray, or glycerin has rendered your drink inedible. These products contain chemicals that are not meant for consumption!
- 1 pint of strawberries
- 2 limes
- 16 ounces of water
- 2 shots of white rum
- Muddle strawberries in cocktail shaker, save aside two for garnish.
- Juice two limes into cocktail shaker, saving aside two wheels for garnish.
- Add water and rum into shaker.
- Shake vigorously.
- Pour and enjoy!