Whether it’s cocktails or mocktails, it’s those little details that can make all the difference in your photos. Capturing the perfect drop is easy with a few tips and tricks.

Ice cubes and condensation, garnishes and staging … these are what make all the difference. Throw in the right lighting and camera angles and you have the makings for some stunning drinks and product shots. Great for celebrating at Christmastime, too.

Ice, ice baby

Real ice cubes melt quite quickly, especially under studio lights and direct sunlight. Instead, try some acrylic stand-ins. They are cost-effective and will happily sit around all day if need be.

If you chill them, you can use in everyday drinks too. Another trick is to try frozen grapes in wine, which chills the wine and adds some pizazz.

Condensation for the brrr effect

Nothing says brrr icy-cold quite like condensation and there are two quick and easy ways to achieve this. First, take a glass or can and put in the freezer to make it really cold. Then, place it in a warm room or give it a quick blast with a hairdryer. Sit back and wait for the condensation to appear.

The second — and so easy to do — is to mix 50/50 water and glycerin in a spray bottle and spray the glass or bottle. Wrap a tissue or piece of paper around the top so you don’t spray all the way to the top, just where the liquid would be.

Bonus — it will stick around for ages too. If you need more, give another spray.

Go festive

Spruce up a Saint Nick-arita with some condensation and sugar. But also throw in some sparkly Christmas lights and candy canes to make it festive.

Garnishes

Garnishes always seem to make a cocktail complete, don’t they? Slice some lemons or limes for garnishes on the edge of glasses, or cut them in half and decorate the scene. Rub a little of that lemon juice on the edge of the glass then tip upside down in a plate of sugar crystals (or crushed candy canes!) for that added sparkle.

Springs of fresh mint also make drinks look refreshing. You can also place a bottle of your drink of choice or mixes in the shot too. Strawberries or cherries on skewers work a treat too.

If using mint, be sure to keep it wrapped in a damp paper towel in the fridge to prevent it from wilting.

Reflections

Try shooting on glass or black acrylic to capture some great reflections, just be wary of not capturing unwanted elements too.

Splash out

Don’t forget to experiment, drop fruit or ice cubes into your liquid and capture the high-speed action. A High-Speed Sync strobe or speedlight would come in handy here for faster shutter speeds.

Go for the angle

Shoot your drink from different angles, editorial style. Get some overall shots, but then go in close for the details. Try from the top (flatlay) or on an obscured angle.

Lighting

All of the above were shot with indirect natural light. Direct light can cause hot spots and unwanted reflections in glass and shiny objects. Instead, try pulling back away from your light source, be that natural or artificial light.

If using studio lights, try feathering them to your subject, avoiding the harsh direct light from strobes or speedlights. If your lighting looks a little unbalanced, try using a reflector to bounce some of that light back onto your subject.

Pull your scene away from direct light

Possible issues

You may come across possible issues when working with reflective and shiny surfaces, like unwanted reflections and hot spots. Try a Circular Polarizer filter or change your camera angle slightly.  You can also try blocking the reflection with a piece of foamcore.

If you are just starting out, go easy, have fun. Sometimes working with glass and shiny objects provides tricky reflections. But with a little patience and practice, you can achieve some amazing results.