One way to find new ideas for photos is to look at your daily habits and capture those. For example, if you’re a coffee drinker, you can brainstorm dozens of ideas around coffee alone. It’s an excellent photography subject, not just for still life photos, but also for portraits and action shots.
That’s one reason why we included coffee as a subject in our 2017 Photography Challenge. It’s simple to find and easy to work into a variety of compositions and settings. Plus, you get to enjoy drinking it afterward.
Creative Ideas for Coffee Photos
The handful of ideas below are some of the most effective ways to photograph coffee. Of course, there are many more possibilities than we’ve included here, but if you’re struggling for inspiration, these ideas are a good place to start.
This compositional technique is commonly used with coffee photos because it shows the inside of the cup. It’s perfect for latte art, but it can be a good choice for black coffee, too, especially if you’re shooting several subjects at once.
For instance, if you’re photographing your breakfast alongside your coffee, a bird-eye view is one of the best ways to show everything clearly. It’s also a realistic perspective, as we often look down at our food with a birds-eye view.
If your coffee is in a photogenic cup, you can get away with side angle that focuses on the cup and hides the coffee. For this composition, you’ll need to think carefully about the background. A good background will highlight the cup and make your photo better, while a bad background will distract your viewers and weaken your photo.
First, think about the colors of your background. You’ll want either neutral colors or colors that will match or contrast with your cup. If the background colors aren’t working well, try shooting in black and white instead.
You might also want to minimize background distractions by using a shallow depth of field (i.e. bokeh). Remember to notice any lines in the photo, too, like the edge of a table. Then, position the cup so the lines are leading to it.
Close-up of Coffee Beans
You don’t need to drink coffee to get a nice coffee photo. Coffee beans are interesting enough to shoot, even for non-coffee drinkers. They have a unique shape and texture that’s well-suited for close-up or macro photos. For maximum contrast, use a light background or try a dark background with strong lighting that shines off the beans.
Cup of Coffee Beans
Not a fan of macro photography? You can still capture the beauty of coffee beans in a still life with other objects. For example, you can fill a mug with coffee beans to capture the idea of coffee with a creative twist. Be sure to use a cup that contrasts the coffee beans for maximum effect. White or brightly-colored cups are both good choices.
Prop for Portrait Shoots
Coffee can be a nice prop for portraits because it gives the image a cozy, casual feel. It can also bring out your model’s personality, especially if you’re shooting at a coffee house they love or using coffee cups from their home. Besides, having coffee during the shoot can help your model feel more comfortable, so the portraits will look more genuine.
With a fast shutter speed, you can get a cool shot of coffee splashing. You can create this splash by pouring coffee high above a cup or dropping something like a sugar cube into the coffee. For a bigger splash, just increase the height of the drop.
Coffee drinks and coffee beans are both great subjects for practicing photo manipulation. Their simplicity allows you to experiment with a variety of ideas, from easy Photoshop effects to more in-depth photo manipulation.
Many of the above photos were selected from our awesome Flickr group. Next time you shoot your cup of coffee, post the image in our group so we can appreciate it!