I don’t think anyone would be surprised that I enjoy beer. It’s fun to sample, write about, and photograph. Exactly 44 weeks ago, I joined the 52 Beers group on Flickr. I don’t write reviews or document my beer intake in any way, but I took this on as a challenge to force myself to come up with new ways at looking at beer by photographing one new beer each week for a year. To accomplish this, I had to ask myself a few questions: What makes a beer unique? What makes a bottle or a label stand out? What does beer mean to me? What have I gotten myself into?
Taking photographs for fun and taking photographs professionally are two different monsters. As much as I love photography, it doesn’t mean I want to have a camera in my hand around the clock. It’s pretty heavy. Plus, motivation does not strike all day, every day. If I don’t have any appointments scheduled for the day, it’s fairly easy to watch a DVD, take a nap, and then spend the rest of the afternoon wondering where my day went. I can admit that. Evidently, not just to myself, but to anyone reading this. I think a lot of people are like me in that respect, so it’s important to set up challenges and exercises where I can be held accountable.
Well, I’m almost a full year into the project and what did I learn? Well, I love beer. I think that was already a fact though, so it doesn’t count. First, I don’t have an expensive studio with unlimited lighting. So, some were shot outside, some under random generic lamps, and others under a speedlight. But lighting, although imperative, was secondary to me for this project. The overriding element was composition. Show the beer? Show the head? Show the bottle? Show the glass? Show the growler?
- Widmer Brothers Brewing, Brrr: I got a sample bottle in the mail, but things didn’t come together until I bough a six pack off the shelves. What typifies “Brrr” more than huddling together?
- Full Sail Brewing, Old Boardhead: Simple label, complex beer. I happened to be drinking it when I got a phone call. When I got back to the beer, late afternoon light had come through the window and lit the beer through the glass. It was nice, but a flashlight exaggerated the effect and created the shot I wanted: a complex tasting beer that was also complex visually.
- Laughing Dog, Alpha Dog Imperial IPA: The analog TTV treatment seemed to work with the bottle design and the glass of beer in the background. I didn’t think about it while I was shooting it, but the lpha Dog is definitely gaurding the beer in the background. Sometimes, things just come together.
- Liefman’s Goudenband: I decided a dyptych would be the best option to show the label from the front as well as the twisted tissue presentation layer. It’s very unique packaging, and very important ot feature it.
- Lagunitas’ Hop Stoopid: Not everything has to be planned. I was playing dominos, drinking Hop Stoopid, and my camera was nearby. End of story.