Photo Op: Beauty and the Beer Bottle

I enjoy photography. I’ve been doing it for about 3 years now as a hobby, and it’s opened a lot of doors for me as a result. From getting the opportunity to photograph a family’s closest moments, to flying 2,000 feet in the air in a hot air balloon, photography has been an adventure to say the least. Some of the most inspirational photo’s I’ve seen are ones that find beauty in the mundane – turning something that was once ignored into something that is now admired.

Reno Balloon Race
Taken during the 2014 Great Reno Balloon Race. This flight was awarded to me after winning the 2013 Reno Balloon Race Photo Contest.

The biggest brands out there understand the value of beautiful photos. One of my favorite examples is a non-profit called Charity Water, which was founded by Scott Harrison. Scott was inspired to start this charity after he had been working as a photojournalist in rural Africa taking photos of poverty stricken children. As far as non-profits go, these guys have had a monumental rise, going from $100 to $27 million in donations in less than 10 years. Part of the reason for this success is Scott’s ability to be create a compelling visual story through photography. This, coupled with a strong understanding of how to build a brand, has lead to huge success for this non-profit. The only comment I could really make against Scott’s photography is that he has a very a rich and diverse subject to shoot, not the simple or mundane.


During a recent photo shoot of some our newest beers we’ve created at Ucraft Brew, I had to try to figure out how make a few bottles of beer look like works of art. Only being an amateur product photographer at best (and amateur photographer in general), I had to do so with limited lighting equipment and materials. For some, the sight of beer bottles sweating at the neck with condensation might elicit a strong emotion, but for most others, they’re just beer bottles. Corona often gets around this by showing a beer bottle (with the lime, of course) set with a magnificent beach backdrop. It’s how they’ve branded themselves and it’s how they elicit an emotion for their beer. When people think about Corona, they don’t just think about the beer. They think about themselves on a beautiful, white sandy beach watching the waves crash, surrounded by bikini-clad women and chiseled men. Corona nailed it and I now want to drink one as I’m writing this.

For me, this wasn’t as much of an option. While I will spare you the details of the setup, I decided to go with a dark, moody shot that really focused on the logo and labels themselves. While this might not elicit the same kind of emotion that a beautiful beach would, people might at least appreciate the dramatic contrast around the labels and dark bokeh backdrop – my feeble attempt to make you think a group of beer bottles is less mundane than they really are. You can see the results in the photo below.

beer, Ucraft

While this photo may never end up in a magazine or on TV, it still gives me a great sense of pride having taken it. Pride not just for the photo itself, but for the fact that this photo represents the beginning of the Ucraft Brew brand. It represents that Ucraft Brew is not only committed to making great custom beers for our customers, but to presentation and artistry as well (okay…that might be over inflating my ego a bit).

This brings me to my last point, something every entrepreneur should always have in the back of their mind. Presentation COUNTS! While presentation alone cannot make a business, it can greatly differentiate it from the competition. The top restaurants around the world have definitely figured this out. A recent study conducted by Professor Charles Spence out of Oxford University found that customers perceived food to taste better when it was thoughtfully plated, and were willing to pay three times more for it. Any marketer probably could have guessed this, as presentation is often cited the most important aspect that influences purchasing decisions among those with high socioeconomic status – not cost or quality, but presentation.

So whether it’s in the form of photography, packaging, or plating, it’s important to keep in mind that presentation strongly influences our perception of a brand. So much so that food will actually taste better for it. That’s something an entrepreneur can’t afford to forget.

Did a photo alone get you to walk in to the store? Did presentation make or break your decision to buy something? Please share in the comments in below.