Tiki Photo Contest

Photo Contest - a penguin delicately shoots a picture of a martini, sans olive

Important Note: I just realized that my email account rick@kaiserpenguin.com wasn’t working. It should be now, so please re-submit any photos you sent along. Thanks, and sorry for the inconvenience.

As FireFox chokes to load all of my cocktail blog tabs, I sit back and hope for an exciting new cocktail. I apple-w through the list quickly, and a flash of color darts past my eye. I go back to my list and reload the blog I closed,and there sits a stunning picture of a simple gin and tonic. I get up from my medieval-looking chair, grab a bottle of gin, and make one. I don’t even begin reading until I sit back down, ice-cold glass in hand. It’s amazing how Gwen Stefani gulping down a -15°F coke with beads of water dripping off like a bad lens flare can make you want to grab one and guzzle it.

My goal with all of the pictures I post is to evoke this kind of visceral response, and it’s one of the reasons I started Kaiser Penguin. I get asked quite often how I produce the photos on Kaiser Penguin, and I’m going to hold nothing back.

How to take KP photographs

  • Make a beautiful drink. Don’t even put alcohol in it if you think you’ll be shooting long enough to make it watery and dull, just be sure the color matches the actual drink. Appropriate garnishes are key. Yes, even temperate lilies.
  • Set up a piece of white poster board outside with some rocks, bricks or some other support to make a curved L-shape.
  • Do this at 5pm when the sun is happy.
  • Get your Canon PowerShot A95 and take about 30 pictures.
  • Pick the best one and adjust the colors in Photoshop.

The Contest

The Prize

2 tiki-infused souls who submit the best exotic cocktail photos will win a copy of Sippin’ Safari. The Beachbum was so pleased at the idea that he has offered up the copies of his new book to give away.

The Rules

  • Submit up to three tiki cocktail photos to rick@kaiserpenguin.com.
  • The size will be 650x370px and they will be jpgs.
  • Submit a recipe of the drink.
  • The last day I will accept entires is Monday, August 20th.

As photos are submitted, I will add them to this page.

Want Makes a Great Photo?

What do you think makes a cocktail photo appealing? Share your thoughts!

97 Responses to “Tiki Photo Contest”

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97 Comments to “ Tiki Photo Contest”
  1. AdamNo Gravatar says:

    For the record, I’d like to record a dissenting opinion. Those of us in the “truth in advertising and art” school of cocktail photography will be (a) taking photos of actual drinks, including alcohol, and (b) not color correcting in Photoshop. I throw this gauntlet down to the rest of you as well!

  2. RickNo Gravatar says:

    I’m very interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on this too. For me, a cocktail photograph has to look appealing and make me crave it. If it’s made of aerosol cheese and calf’s liver and has 23 photoshop filters applied to it, I could care less.

  3. Doug WinshipNo Gravatar says:

    I like this idea very much. Now that I’m trying to write my own blog, I’m paying much more attention to the minutiae of other blogs. The ones I like best use some spiffy photography, just like the cocktail books I also like the best. I was planning to try out a series of drink photos (all Pegus, natch) that would highlight my cocktail glass collection. This gives me an excuse and a deadline to get on that!

    Now, Adam has an interesting point, though I’m not sure whether I agree with him or not. On the one hand, I think you should not use Photoshop to alter the liquid in the drink to make it look different than it really is. I really hate it when you buy a daylilly hybrid at the nursery, and it blooms to look nothing like the tag! But, I do think that many cameras don’t color balance well, so you SHOULD color-correct to get the photo to look like real life. At which point, the color settings on monitors halfway around the world will throw out all your good work anyway….

    Also, it is sometimes fun to play with light effects, backgrounds, etc. Good cocktail photos often have an almost surreal look to them.

    I think I’ll try both. Think you’ll have any restrictions?

  4. GabrielNo Gravatar says:

    For me it’s also about the composition of the shot. I’ve been thinking about how the, for me, tired composition of a photo with the cocktail in front and the bottles/ingredients in back with differing fields of depth and focus being the only distinguishing characteristic can be improved. And, once I get a better, or hell, even halfway functional, camera I’ll be trying to do more interesting things with my photos.

    As for ‘truth in advertising’, I worry about the ‘slippery slope’ off how far off using different ingredients and/or filters changes the appearance from what the user will experience in real life (which is what we want to promote, them actually freaking trying these awesome drinks) and I think it’s important we stay in close proximity to the real thing. However, that isn’t to say if I featured the French 75 in the future I wouldn’t recreate a miniature French battlefield with little army men in trenches and manning the ‘French 75’ gun for which the drink was named in a creative way with the drink being the apparent objective…or something.

  5. RickNo Gravatar says:

    These are some great thoughts. It is very important that the drinks look as they do in real life. Color-correcting for this is acceptable and encouraged. Making your drink a vivid orange, when in reality it’s a dull rust color, is quite the opposite.

    No restrictions on photo submissions. I plan to make all of the drinks that are being considered for the prizes, and if they don’t match up in real life, they won’t win. I’ve added a little bit on submitting your recipe to the rules.

  6. ScottesNo Gravatar says:

    A tip for getting the correct color – leave a small square of bright white inkjet printing paper in a corner of the shot that will get cropped out before posting. Make sure the piece of paper receives the same exact lighting as the drink – don’t tilt it to one side so that it gets indirect light. Take the photo, bring it into Photoshop, open Curves (Control-M), click on the middle eye-dropper (Set Gray Point) and then click on the piece of white paper. The photo should instantly change color tints. Viola! Instant, accurate color correction. (Well, if you place the paper correctly, and the paper is truly white… I have professional Gray Cards for this process.)

    Considering that my other hobby is photography, one would think that I’d take pictures of my rums… I feel ashamed, but I still have no time to muck with taking photos. But I’ll try because of this post.

  7. GabrielNo Gravatar says:

    Ummmm, dude, all I have to say Scottes is…you should really be taking pictures of your freaking rums…think of the, the, children!

  8. Well, if there’s anyone who has shamed me into taking better cocktail pictures it’s Rick.

    Both he and Anita over at Married With Dinner are the cocktail blog photo masters.

    I’m a photoshop dope, so I try to get the picture I want with the camera, not adjust it afterwards.

    Hmmm… 10 days, what can I come up with?

  9. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Important Note: I just realized that my email account rick@kaiserpenguin.com wasn’t working. It should be now, so please re-submit any photos you sent along. Thanks, and sorry for the inconvenience.

  10. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:

    Does a drawing of a photograph of a drink count? ;-)

  11. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Due to the large volume of photos I’ve been receiving, the impending MxMo, and Tales, I will be extending the photo submission date to Monday, August 6th.

    Oh, when I said “large volume,” I meant a big, angry ZERO. So you could probably submit a photo of your dog and win at this point. :)

  12. Oh, whew!

    We’re in the middle of a cold snap. With the fog and wind rolling in every afternoon around 5, I’m afraid the only photo I would get would be of broken glassware. Not that that is without precedence on Kaiser Penguin!


    Besides, still need to track down some ingredients, not to mention write up my MxMo piece.

  13. RickNo Gravatar says:


    I had forgotten about that mishap. Now I’m fully rigged with bricks, twine, and a really large rock. This MacGyver-like system prevents my backdrops from knocking over cocktails. Our yard is pretty much a full-strength, scientifically-calibrated wind tunnel.

  14. […] I get into the recap, I wanted to remind everyone of the tiki photo contest. The final entry date is Monday, August […]

  15. I’m in.

    I just spent the weekend with 60+ people over, slinging some original recipes. I don’t think the plastic Cockspur cups were that photogenic, but, I have a few… y’know… mugs.

  16. I think your email still needs help…..

    But, since I am offering links to flickr and not actual photos (I can send the real deal to you if you want) can I post them here as a comment?

    The Zombie from Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log

    I don’t quite remember what this was, but I set it on fire…

    And what set would be complete without a Mai-tai

    The Zombie is from the Grog Log, and the Mai-Tai is Beachbum Berry’s
    $100 Mai-Tai recipe.

  17. […] I tried to go for a Mai Tai style item, really emphasizing the qualities of the Pyrat XO.  Well, that an apparently making it sweet as the dickens.  It’s not mouth puckering, but it really squelches any alcoholic burn, with the spiciness of the Fee Bitters adding to the cola-like kick.  Someday,  if my druthers are in line, I’ll be making a kola syrup for it, either using Coca-Cola from Mexico (cane sugar!), or actual Kola nut, of which I have found a source.  I’ll be turning in the pictures I took of the Happy Hoti, next to its mascot, for Kaiser Penguin’s Tiki Photography Contest. […]

  18. DOTW: Piña Colada…

    The piña colada enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame in 1979, long before the idea of cocktails really entered my brain. The reason: A pop song by one-hit-wonder Rupert Holmes called “Escape”… better known as “The Piña Colada Song&#…

  19. […] Don’t forget to enter the Tiki Photo Contest at Kaiser Penguin! […]

  20. […] a cocktail book. When I calmed down, I remembered the discussion thread in Kaiser Penguin’s Photo Contest, and thought this had to be a tragic photo editing error. But when I checked the page that had the […]

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

Why on Earth did you name your blog “Kaiser Penguin?”

It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.

Contact: rick@kaiserpenguin.com