How to Capture Better Coffee Photos and Tea Photos in a Cafe

Let’s be honest: people love capturing photos of tea and coffee before they enjoy them. They’re probably one of the more popular items that you see online as you peruse your various social media feeds. Both of these drinks are very personal to us all of–they elicit emotions by getting us excited, they help us out in many ways, and they mean a lot of us. If you took someone’s coffee away, then they’re bound to be miserable.

Capturing better images of that stuff though really isn’t that tough to do.

The Human Perspective

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm X70 sample photos (3 of 33)ISO 25001-60 sec at f - 2.8

When you talk about lenses and focal lengths, it’s easy for us to get caught up and talk about the human perspective. Generally what this refers to is something like a 35mm or 50mm focal length equivalency. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Instead, we’re talking about simply how something looks from the way humans typically look at their coffee and tea. This takes into consideration human behavior.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 Mk II sample images (2 of 32)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 1.8

The image above isn’t exactly from the human perspective, if someone is sitting at a desk they’ll almost never see a scene like this. However, the first image in this section totally qualifies. When you sit down at a table to consume your drink, you can easily look down at it with ease.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer SNAP! Pro iPhone case review samples (1 of 21)ISO 2001-20 sec at f - 2.2

Here’s the ultimate example of what a person sees when they look down at their table with coffee present; but it’s not something that focuses on just the drink. Aim to go for the very close up, personal, one-on-one look!

It’s All About Contrast

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer SNAP! Pro iPhone case review samples (12 of 21)ISO 1001-30 sec at f - 2.2

One of the most important things about good coffee photography and tea photography has to do with contrast in the scene. For example, look at the image above: we’ve got white and blue separating the brown table and the blackish inner area of the cup–which is where the tea is.

A Lens Mug is a great and affordable item for every photographer. Coffee for this shoot kindly donated by Cafe Integral. Check them out. You'll love them.

A Lens Mug is a great and affordable item for every photographer. Coffee for this shoot kindly donated by Cafe Integral. Check them out. You’ll love them.

In contrast, this image above sticks to around the same color palette but uses tones to make it all different. The image could be much more effective with a different colored background, table, or by adding something like coffee cherries into the coffee beans.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into contrast, because we’re specifically talking about colors here: the colors are ROYGBIV. Red and orange are closer together and more similar than red and Violet are. So to add the most contrast, you’d probably want something like a green, blue or even a violet.

Makes sense?

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 18mm f2.8 review sample photos (32 of 37)ISO 2001-60 sec at f - 2.8

The other alternative for the image I showed earlier in this section is this: which represents what a child may see. It offers a lot of contrast–but it’s not something that an adult may really relate to.

Big Windows and Natural Light

Chris Gampat Digital Camera Review Red Tea image (1 of 1)ISO 4001-80 sec at f - 2.0

Most cafes have very big lights in the form of giant windows that let in a lot of light. To get the most appealing photos overall, combine the natural light from the windows with the contrast in colors and the human perspective.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 G VR sample photos (41 of 42)ISO 40001-20 sec at f - 2.8

What makes this image a bit more effective is the single candle behind it–but otherwise all the color tones are very similar and otherwise tough to tell apart otherwise.

Keep these all in mind when you go for your next serious cup of brew!