I’m not a huge fan of faking it when it comes to food and drink photography. But sometimes, especially when you’re working for a client, you need to shoot a perfect shoot and we all know that a perfect shot takes time.
Today we’re looking into shooting drinks. I’ve always wanted to try this trick. It’s nothing new, it’s nothing fancy. I’ll show you how easy it is and it saves you lots of time.
It’s called GLYCERIN.
Have you heard of the glycerin trick? Glycerin is a thick liquid that mixes well with water and creates the most beautiful and natural-looking condensation effect. A condensation effect that will last for hours. I’ve put it on a test and loved the result. Since I didn’t have any fine-mist spritz on hand I could only create larger drops, which were perfect for what I was shooting – beer. Usually smaller droplets look better, so I suggest buying a spritz that produces a finer mist or one where you can control how fine the mist is.
But why not just use cold glasses. Sure, that’s perfectly fine. I’m doing this all the time. The thing is, natural condensation doesn’t last very long. If you’ve ever shot cold drinks, you know the condensation looks great for a few minutes and then the super fine mist that’s creating the matt turns into drops. So if you need the drink to look cold for a long time, this is the perfect solution. But it makes the drink unedible. You’ll learn why in the next section.
Okay, so how did I do it?
First, a cold glass produces both super-fine droplets, that create a matt effect on glass and larger droplets that we can actually see. So for this to look natural there are two steps to follow:
- Spraying the glass with a clear matting spray (hello unedible).
- Spraying the glass with a 50-50 water-glycerin mixture (vegetable glycerin is considered edible, but only in very tiny amounts!).
Did I just spray the whole glass?
Nope. You spray the parts where the drink will actually be touching the glass. This is where the condensation happens in real life. Therefore you need to cover the bottom edge of the glass if the glass has any thickness. And you should also cover the top of the glass if you’re not pouring the drink all the way to the top. See the photo below for a reference.
Does the matt spray ruin my glass?
Yes and no. If the glass is pretty smooth, the spray can be removed easily with kitchen soap and hot water. It does take some extra work, but I could remove it entirely. You can see that I used a glass with some textured writing. I wasn’t able to remove the spray entirely in those tiny edges. So be mindful of that and maybe try first with a glass that you don’t mind destroying.
Some other things to be careful about and other uses
- When taping the paper around your glass be sure to make it perfectly straight. If you check the top photos you can see that I didn’t do this and you can see the edge of fake condensation being all wonky.
- Also, be sure to pour the liquid to the edge of the fake condensation, otherwise you’ll end up seeing a straight line and it will look fake. Sort of like the photos below. They are not perfect, but it was an experiment. In the end, I was hoping to get a great beer shot, so I put more effort into that one.
- You can use the water-glycerin mixture to spray over fresh fruits, vegetables, and greens to make them look fresher. If you wash them carefully after the photoshoot they are still edible.
So I took all the things above and made the beer photo. My idea was to make a beer pouring shot where you can really feel the freshness of the beer and make it look cold and refreshing. Here are some final shots…
In case you want more useful tips about photographing drinks Joanie Simon’s got a great video about that! Her tips also helped me with this little experiment. She’s awesome by the way 🙂