There are many instances in life that simply aren’t capturable with the standard mobile camera - the upcoming solar eclipse, a hummingbird’s wings as it hovers outside your office window, or in my case, a decent photo of the Washington Monument from inside a Lyft. However, lucky for us, coffee is one thing we can capture the beauty of. In addition to the obvious latte art, the right coffee photo can bring to life the experience that a cup of coffee creates, whether that be the unique setting, the conversation, or the personal connections fostered. At CWJ, we love to see our customers share photos of our coffee with their online network, so whether you’re new to the Insta game or looking to simply step up your photography skills, these simple tips on how to take the perfect coffee Instagram will hopefully encourage you to take more pictures of your cup of joe in the morning.
Before snapping any photos, you want to first evaluate your lighting situation and whether or not it will be conducive to photographing. In the case of food and drink photos, natural light is always best. You want to stay away from fluorescent lights, as these tend to cause a glare in darker coffee, such as Americanos or Pour Overs. Ideally, you’ll want natural light coming in through either floor to ceiling windows, like at CWJ, or through a skylight. Though natural light is generally what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to utilize shadows to create depth and contrast in your photos either. Sometimes, the golden hour is the best moment to take a photo.
Once you’ve approved of the lighting situation, it’s time to select your star of the show - the coffee! One way to instantly garner attention (and likes) on your Instagram post is to order a latte, showcasing the shops’ unique spin on latte art. At CWJ, our baristas can do everything from hearts to tulips, so don’t be afraid to suggest your favorite design. If you’re more of a straight shooter when it comes to your caffeine fix, a great coffee photo can also be taken with our Nitro Cold Brew, served straight from the tap into a glass snifter. Once you’ve chosen your drink of choice, you’ll want to select props for your photo. Start by considering the props already given to you - the silverware, the menu, the flowers in our shops. Showcasing the logo of the coffee shop either on the front of the menu or on your cup is a great way to get featured by the company, and as a pleasant byproduct, gain a few new Instagram followers. Next, consider purchasing brightly colored food, like a salad or yogurt parfait, to further improve the aesthetics of the photo. Or, if you’re a carb-lover like us, grab a pastry for a classic ‘French breakfast’ photo. Lastly, consider what you have with you that would feel like an organic addition to the photo, such as sunglasses, a wallet, or better yet - your hands!
Many of the props I mentioned above are really only able to be utilized if you’re setting up your photo as a flatlay image - one where you shoot a layout of items from above (you’ve probably seen foodies do this at restaurants). However, angles are also a great way to play with the depth of your shot. If you’re not one to stand on a chair in the middle of a crowded coffee shop to take a photo, perhaps you can opt for a more inconspicuous angle, such as a side shot or one where your coffee is in the foreground. Above all, consider symmetry, either having the focal point of your photo be dead center or utilize the rule of thirds, positioning the coffee either slightly to the left or right of the frame. If you decide to capture a photo in the coffee shop, take advantage of table edges and textures to add more detail to your photo. However, if you more so like your coffee on the go, holding your cup in the air with a scenic backdrop visible is always a solid go-to for a quick pic.
Though this blog post is intended to help you take the perfect coffee Instagram, many of these tips can be applied to everything from soft serve ice cream to your favorite beauty products. In addition, though we focus solely on taking the perfect still photo, if a Boomerang or video on Instagram Story is more your style, these tips will still do the trick. Social Media is just one way we as individuals express our creative style and personal brand, so above all, when taking your perfect coffee Instagram, ensure that the content you are creating is in line with your aesthetics and indicative of what the coffee experience means to you.
Find one of our locations to practice your new photo skills!