How to Photograph Wine

In November 2020, Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year presented International Wine Photography Day 2020, inviting all wine and photography enthusiasts to share their wine photography. Over the last few years, International Wine Photography Day has recognised the incredibly creative and innovative ways in which photographers capture all things vinous. The day encouraged people to get snapping innovative images of wine and wine-related subjects.

This year, International Wine Photography Day included a second celebration: the 150th anniversary of Errazuriz, long-standing sponsor of the Awards’ dedicated wine category. The birthday celebrations also include the revealing of some exclusive images from the Errazuriz story as we reflect on the historical and cultural heritage of one of Chile’s finest family wine estates. 

“At Viña Errazuriz, we are passionate about telling the story of wine, through the history, the landscape, the vineyards, the wines and the people. Wine is about much more than what is in the bottle and that’s why we’re proud to support the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year Awards in celebrating every aspect of this wonderful industry and the people who make it so special to be a part of. Over the years we have been delighted by the wide array of photographs that have been submitted into our three ‘Wine Photographer of the Year’ categories, Produce, People and Place and we continue to be amazed by the incredible talent displayed by all entrants who are able to capture what it is to be a part of the global wine community. Good luck to all 2021 entrants, we can’t wait to see what you have to offer!” – Magui Chadwick

As Magui suggests - ‘Wine is about much more than what is in the bottle.’ Great wine photography can create an aura of class and sophistication. Wine photography can be found in many places, often used as art inspiration, such as restaurants, wine bars, cafes, and hotels. In doing so, it can make us want to order a glass... or two. In creating such artwork there is more than just photographing a bottle on a table; great wine photography tells a story through its use of lighting, camera work and associated props.

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR WINE PHOTOGRAPHY

In celebrating wine and wine photography across the globe, we wanted to share with you some tips and tricks for you to consider when shooting your wine.

We spoke to Rupert Ponsonby, R&R Drink and Food, who shared with us his personal top tips and tricks for photographing that perfect brand wine shot, bringing the story behind the wine to life. We have included some of our finalist and commended entrants work to showcase how these tips have been shown in wine photography.

Often, I am told that there are 'No Rules' for effective and memorable photography for food or drink… and maybe there aren’t; but having spent 30 odd years watching good photographers and bad, I feel there are clear ways to achieve a tumultuously happy client.

So many photographers make me smile with delight, providing me with the same heart-thumping exhilaration and contentment as achieved by my second martini, or maybe my third.  But if they are bad (photographer or martini) they deliver the same desolation and sadness as Degas' Absinthe Drinker or by a long cherished vintage wine, which is corked.

So what is needed to photograph a brand?'

A BRIEF FOR PHOTOGRAPHING WINE 

‘First, a good brief.

So a deep-thinking brand-owner needs to set out exactly what is required. After that, a photographer should dig deep into a brand's history and into its competitors, plus its values, its principles, its colours, its texture, its figureheads and what has gone before.’ 

A STRUCTURE FOR WINE PHOTOGRAPHY 

‘Second, the structure.

I am looking for a photograph with structure and cohesion... an artform. I want a work of 'art', which moves the senses, is memorable and makes me laugh or cry.’

Creativity can be seen throughout wine photography, where you know the image is about wine, but the focal point may be something different. It is all in the framing of your shot.

Erraz Places_Matt Wilson_Wine rack at Ellerman House_Lo Res

Here, Matt Wilson in photographing a Winerack at Ellerman House shows us how creative you can get with framing. Whilst this image is about wine and its associated place, our focus is drawn further into the image than the bottles of wine. It is cleverly framed to lead us on a story of the wine, and how it is enjoyed.

Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year – People, 2018, 3rd
Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year – People, 2018, 3rd

Matt Wilson has also created artwork, with his Punk Winemaker.  The use of the cork lets us know that the image is about wine, and its associated people, but this image gives us a sense of humour, which can reflect on the brands identity. It is definitely a memorable, creative and distinctive image!

LIGHTING TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING WINE

‘Thirdly, the lighting.

God gives us this stuff for free, and yet so often it appears to be used as a photographic afterthought. A photographer's clever paraphernalia works wonders, but so many photographs use light so poorly, and fail to highlight the salient features, thereby diminishing the exhilaration that a well-lit photograph can provide.’

Natural light can be seen as the most effective form of lighting your wine shot. Warm and soft lighting makes that wine scene relatable to the viewer and can simply be achieved with none other than the light from your window. Dark lighting can also frame that shot, leaving us wanting to know more about the image.

For more lighting ideas: International Wine Photography Day - Wine Photography Tips #1: Lighting - Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year

Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year – People, 2019, 3rd
Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year – People, 2019, 3rd

Miha Bratina in shooting Pinot Noir Barrel Sampling At Pasji Rep Wines, Vipava Valley, shows how the use of lighting can assist in framing a picture. The lighting is cleverly used to create a silhouette of what is being told to us in the photograph. Its warmth draws the viewer in to discover more.

COLOUR IN WINE PHOTOGRAPHY

‘Fourthly, colour.

This is particularly relevant now in Covid times, as it can convey a story whilst pleasing a picture editor and lifting the national mood. The value of colour (and maybe props) came home to me when we launched Taittinger's Domaine Evremond Vineyard in Kent in 2015. The media coverage globally was bonkers, partly because of the use of colour: a) the contrast between Mr Taittinger's natty grey suit and the casual red pullover of his UK agent, Patrick McGrath; and b) because Mr Taittinger wore a Union Jack around his shoulders and Patrick a fluttering ‘Tricolor’. The colours and the clear messaging of entente cordiale just leapt from every page.’

Photo: Launch: Domaine Evremond, UK – R&R Teamwork (randr.co.uk)
Photo: Launch: Domaine Evremond, UK – R&R Teamwork (randr.co.uk)

PROPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING WINE

‘Fifth, the props.

It may be rude to call food a prop, and maybe a 'prop' is a vulgar word; but food brings so many different colours, shapes, moods and associations to a photograph in such a subliminal manner. They help make a drinks photograph... edible.’   

Props can help your image to tell a story. These could be simple, just to frame a bottle of wine. It could be more detailed, setting the scene, and therefore mood of the image. For example, adding wine glasses, or even a cheese board. Or perhaps, this could be a human factor, and something a little more unusual. It adds a depth to the photograph, making us want to understand what is happening in the scene.

For more tips on your props and styling: Styling Tips for Wine Photography - Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year

Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year – Produce, 3rd, 2020
Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year – Produce, 3rd, 2020

Here, Andrew Barrow has used such props to set a scene for his Wine and Cheese. Using cheese and grapes as well as flowers gives this image a still life feel. We know that the story is about the wine, but it draws us into a feel of how the wine is enjoyed.

‘In the same way that there are artists or there are artists, the same is true of photographers. A photograph can be an art form in its own right. It can deliver mood and pathos, and put across a message in an outrageously powerful manner. In short, it can showcase the very DNA of the brand.’

Inspired to shoot your wine? Immerse yourself in our Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year Finalist images.

To learn more tips and tricks and gain useful insight into the competition, please visit our blogs section to find out more.

Why not try your hand at Food and Wine Photography and register your interest today!

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