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December 6th, 2018

‘Tis the Season for Wonderful Photography

My, oh, my. We love our City Brew drinks and food. They are exceptional!

Our fun challenge is to translate that emotion into great photos for seasonal campaigns for this longtime Kinetic client.


Our award-winning work for City Brew Coffee has been extremely rewarding, and our photos have been a big part of these successful marketing projects. We’ve seen this Billings-born-and-based business grow from a local favorite into a regional powerhouse, with stores across Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota and plans for further expansion.


Creative Director (and photographer extraordinaire) Josh Wirth, Designer Jenny Grass and Account Director Janell Larson continue to work closely with the City Brew team to develop wonderful campaigns featuring phenomenal photography.


Several times a year, Josh, Jenny and Janell execute a photo shoot to capture tasty images for menu boards and signage inside stores and outside in drive-up lanes, on City Brew’s website, across social media, on packages of locally roasted coffee, etc.


Their tried-and-true process delivers results. Here are some major steps:

  • Weeks before the shoot, brainstorm and conceptualize the look.
  • Create a shot list. What’s the subject? What’s the background? What props are needed?
  • Visualize the image. What lighting and angle will work best? What lenses will you need?
  • Gather props and go shopping for needed supplies. Find something authentic!
  • It’s shooting day! Using your shot list, organize your shooting area to make best use of your time.
  • Set up your surface, then arrange your lighting.
  • Prepare your drinks and food and fire away!
  • Edit, edit, edit.


You’ll see our efforts for City Brew’s holiday season now on display. City Brew tasked us with creating a regionally authentic holiday campaign featuring its seasonal-favorite drinks and foods, with a few new surprises thrown in! Jenny paired a whimsical, cheery holiday font with barn wood textures and snowy mountain scenes to create a cozy, Rocky-Mountain-West-feeling that drinking City Brew Coffee gives you.


From Josh, here are five food/drink photography tips that help ensure we capture the scrumptious quality of the product, the feel of season, and the special relationship City Brew has with the communities it serves.


  1. Find the right glass. The drink itself may look appetizing but the glass or mug can help viewers connect emotionally.

  1. Build the scene piece by piece. Place your drink and then build around it.


  1. Light to match the mood you are going for. Are you trying for dark and moody? Or light and refreshing? Bonus tip: add an extra light behind clear glass drinks to make the color shine.


  1. Deconstruct the scene and continue to shoot. Sometimes less is more, so after we have the shot with all of the necessary props, we pull them away one by one and get shots as we pull the scene apart.


  1. Go rogue. Take the camera off the tripod and try a new angle, get a shot for social, get some details…the hard part is done, so get as many shots as you can.


  1. Do as much as you can in camera. If you hear yourself saying, “We can Photoshop that out,” take the time to fix it.


And after the photo shoot is over, yes, sometimes the leftover treats do find their way to our office kitchen. We all like City Brew photo shoots for that reason, too!