Photographing Baristas 101
Baristas are more interesting to me than most people and I love photographing them! The key to a great barista portrait is making it interesting and making sure you capture elements of their personality. Having said that, to properly photograph a barista you need to take additional steps and show something about their work as artists.
This is not always easy. Too often we think of portraits as merely face shots without any surrounding space. That makes for dull images. Give people room to breathe and when photographing baristas give some space for their work environment.
So how does one take a better barista portrait? Here are some helpful tips.
1. Know Your Subject. It is critical to know your subject when doing portrait work. Find their hook, their interests, and include it in the finished product. If your portrait does not convey who they are… you will fall flat on your face.
2. Know A Thing or Two About Coffee. A good photographer properly researches a subject before he photographs it. The more you understand the subject, the easier it is to get amazing photographs.
3. Know a Barista’s Working Space. Simply put - know their working environment. Know the interesting places and know the areas to stay away from. Catch the machinery and not the dirty dishes, always be aware of the interesting areas that will show up in the backdrop of your portrait.
4. Catch Their Energy. Don’t take flat portraits, catch baristas working or catch them with vibrant expressions. Remember a portrait does not need to be posed, some of my favorite shots I’ve taken of baristas have been candids. Portraits that lack energy never pay off.
5. Catch Natural Light. Never use flash when photographing a barista. Use natural light and the lighting around you. An overly lit barista photo lacks depth, remember it is about catching them in their natural environment.
6. Catch Colors. Whether your photo is color or black and white - catch all the colors! From the mirrored images on the metals to the warm tones around them, catch them all.
7. Pull Them (1 through 6) All Together. I know it sounds cliche but A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words. When you tie all these steps together you get a portrait that speaks to the viewer. If you leave out any of the tips, trust me on this one - the portrait feels like it is missing something. As a photographer it is your job to capture all the areas of interest, always remember that.