Guide To Camera Etiquette Part 1: Drinking In Photos

We all enjoy taking pictures of our friends and family for keepsakes, but it’s important to remember there’s a difference between capturing memories for public consumption and capturing memories for private photo prints.

While out and about having a good time, many of us enjoy an alcoholic drink. However, just because we may seem relaxed and happy at that particular moment in time, it doesn’t mean we want it captured for all eternity and for all to see.

To keep the hobby photographer on speaking terms with loved ones, I’ve prepared some helpful tips to consider prior to snapping and sharing pictures of people drinking.

Consider your subject

As a budding (and compassionate) photographer, it’s important to think before you click. Be polite. Prior to taking the picture, ask your subjects if they’d like to put their drinks down or away. If they prefer to, be sure the drinks are out of the frame completely.

If they’re fine with being photographed with drink in hand, be responsible for making sure they’ve got a smile on their face rather than a frown. There’s nothing worse than an unhappy or angry drunk!

Avoid capturing people as they’re taking a sip. Photos mid sip are never attractive. That person will wish that photo was never taken.

This is very different, of course, from posed sips. For a posed sip, guide and direct your subject on the best pose for the photo. A posed sip as opposed to an actual sip wins every time.

Photo Prints - Camera Etiquette - Woman Sipping Alcoholic Drink

Avoid taking a photo front on to your subject where you can see the base of the glass. The glass magnifies the mouth of the person drinking – never a good look.

Prior to snapping the picture, have a good look through the lens to ensure everyone’s over 21! Your subject may not appreciate photographic evidence that they’ve broken the law.

Consider your audience

Does your 45 year old divorced male pal really want his teenage daughter seeing a photo of him on Facebook precariously propping himself up after a hard night out on the town? No. But I’m sure he’d be fine being pictured earlier on in the night with a smile on his face and a red wine on the table in front of him. Or not. What if he’s a teacher at a Christian elementary school and would be harshly judged by his colleagues? Or quite simply, what if he just wants to keep his private life private?

Prior to releasing photos publicly on social media and on social photography websites, have a think about who might also see the photograph.

While it might seem light-hearted and humorous to you at the time, the consequences may be more far reaching than you think.

If you’re unsure, ask permission. Always.

Thrills and Spills

When you are taking pictures of people drinking alcohol, they’re often not the only ones teetering on the edge of decorum. If you’re using expensive camera equipment, watch that drunk person behind you at the bar. His spilt drink may wreak havoc on your new lens.

Drinking is often a time for celebration. Be sure to ask your subjects to raise their glasses in a classy fashion. That way, it shows they’re having a good time and respects their audience – those who view the photo know it’s a proud display of celebratory drinking. Think champagne and fruit cocktails as opposed to a glass of beer and a shot of whiskey!

Photo Prints - Camera Etiquette - Couple Enjoying Cocktails

Finally, check for spills. Red wine stains on the tablecloth. Red wine stains on the teeth. Keep in mind Grandma Bess may not appreciate a photo of her taken with a red wine stain on her crisp white blouse.

Alcohol is often a photographer’s best friend as it loosens up people’s inhibitions and keeps people smiling (in the short term at least), but remember it can end it tears. That’s when you put your camera away and hail your friend (or Grandma Bess!) a taxi.


Eli is Canvas Factory's resident blogger and social media buff. She has a passion for art, craft, design, fashion and photography. She loves to explore the joys and challenges of family life, relationships, motherhood and pet ownership. Eli finds it's more funny to poke fun at herself than others. She's travelled extensively and considers herself a citizen of the world.

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