From preacher to cocktails, Jordan Hughes is an incredibly talented beverage stylist. He is the High-Proof Preacher and founder of the Cocktail Camera, a creative juxtaposition born from his former life as a preacher mixed with his love of cocktail concoctions.
The witty cocktail creative from Oregon is a master cocktail mixologist first and foremost. Where he shines creatively for many of our community members, regardless of their tipple of choice, is his ability to put a creative twist on his cocktails and add a visual narrative to them. He is even launching his first cocktail book perfectly named Twist.
Along with his cocktail recipes, he isn’t afraid to share his tips and tricks to capture the perfect beverage image. From simple garnish tips for styling cocktails to his lighting setups and photography gear, he knows how to serve it up creatively and educationally in a fun and relatable manner. Plus he brings some wow to his cocktails with levitation, splashes, ripples and his signature anti-gravity cocktail throws which is featured on his book cover.
Keep scrolling down and get creatively drunk on Jordan’s work with no associated hangover, we promise!
Welcome Jordan! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Jordan! I am from Portland, Oregon. Let me tell you three fun facts about myself.
How did your journey to photography start? Have you always been a beverage photographer?
Nope! Before I was a photographer all my photographer friends were wedding photographers, which didn’t look or sound remotely interesting to me. But I figured that was the only way to make a living as a photographer. I started making cocktails for fun as I got to know bartenders around the city, and explored various local distilleries. I started sharing my recipes and photos of them online via Instagram and my blog, and it all kind of snowballed from there.
A big part of aesthetic cocktail styling is the garnish and Jordan often shares his tips for unique garnish ideas. Source: @highproofpreacher
What equipment do you use? (camera, tripod, lighting, etc)
Oh yikes, I have so much stuff. Multiple Sony Alpha cameras, lenses, and lighting from Godox and Nanlite. You can see a lot of my gear here.
What is your favourite lighting to use?
Currently a fan of the Godox ad1200 Pro for stills. Then for video, I often use NanLite PavoTubes.
What is your best advice to share with aspiring photographers?
Don’t wait to get paid to create the things you want to create. Just start creating and sharing the work you want to create. For me, that was both creating and photographing cocktails. Yes, you still gotta pay the bills and do the things that pay the bills. But always make time to create work that you love and are passionate about doing. It might take a while, but you’ll eventually get noticed for the work you love doing. That’s just how creative work usually goes – people have a way of resonating with art that was created for the pure love of it. I was photographing drinks purely for fun because I loved it. But that sense of enjoyment and passion translated to my imagery – and eventually, people started paying me to do that thing and now it’s all I do.
Two examples of Jordan’s viral reels on how to make champagne cocktail syrup and designer ice. Source: @highproofpreacher
Your behind the scenes reels are very popular, any advice for creatives wanting to produce this type of content?
Yeah, simply don’t overthink it. You don’t have to be a pro videographer to make good social media videos. I just set up a smartphone tripod whenever I shoot, usually setting my phone to time-lapse. This way I get a few seconds of behind-the-scenes, then edit it together with a final image or two. It’s so easy to do, takes very little time and people love seeing it.
How do you keep learning and evolving your skills? Any recommendations for courses, people to follow etc?
I’m always inspired by other professionals and their work. Shannon Sturgis @shannonshootscocktails and Eric Medsker @ericmedsker are both huge inspirations for me, as well as Doron Gild’s portrait work @dorongildphotography.
Which other creators do you admire and find inspiring?
It’s not exactly in my niche (not at all) but I’m such an @allthatisshe fanboy. Their work is the MOST creative stuff online. Period. Seriously so good and so inspiring to keep trying new things and to keep pushing my self-set creative boundaries.
What are your three favourite props to use?
I keep it pretty simple with props. Generally, I just use some bar tools and bottles to help frame the subject. So generally that’s like bell bigger, glass bitter dasher bottles and maybe a house plant or two.
Lastly, what is next for you?
So many things! I have a cocktail book coming out in December 2022. I also just leased my first real studio space, so I’m excited to build that out and hopefully offer some in-person workshops here soon. And then I have ideas for like 5 different e-courses right now, so I have to get going on those!
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