By Jared Schoenemann
The idea for Hues of Brews was actually started by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and my love of old Top Gear.
If anyone had a car that was remotely close to brown, they were relentlessly mocked. Always. Then one day I heard Jim Gaffigan’s voice in my head saying, “Hey fella, I like brown.” From a gold flake vintage Triumph to a rusty 70’s shag carpet to my old beige Volvo 240, I’ve always loved the humble color brown.
Later on I read that my beloved Guinness is actually “dark red”. Skeptical as I was, I wanted to bring a Guinness into the studio and investigate. Life got in the way, but it was always in the back of my mind.
Years later I stumbled upon Brittany Wright’s fantastic Wright Kitchen work with vegetable and food gradients. She took a simple idea and executed it very well. I thought it was just so cool and inspiring. Suddenly it all flashed back: My love of brown, Guinness being “red”, beer being brown, tons of different browns, bubble similarities, bubble differences – then a light flashed… “Wouldn’t it be cool to photograph as many beers as possible and line them up all on one page to compare?” I thought.
Hues of Brews was born.
*Fun fact: Hammond’s “A Symphony in Beige” comment about their senior-friendly “Rover James” was the inspiration for my “A Symphony in Green” Kauai island project.
With countless beers in the world, we started with what we could get our hands on (namely the most popular selling brands). We shot for months, enduring many side-eyes from shop clerks glaring at my cart overflowing with nothing but hundreds of bottles of beer (but I always brought my 6-year-old daughter along, so I had a modicum of respectability). The work was very time-consuming, with a yield of probably 2 good shots out of 150 taken (if that). So many beers shot and then dumped down the sink, all the fish in Santa Monica must have been drunk. Editing was intensive and slow, but the good shots were coming out beautifully.
Once the first volume of images was done and the website built, it was exactly what I had in mind and very exciting to see it all come together. We’ve had a great response so far and things are growing steady.
Going forward, we aim to keep on shooting anything we can get our hands on. We’re open to work with any brewers and happy to create bespoke fine art of their handiwork. As long as brewers keep brewing, we’ll keep shooting.
In my job as a photographer, I work with people, kids and animals a lot. I love it, as you never really know what you’re going to get (this is especially true with kids and animals, which in the studio are pretty much the same thing). That’s a big part of what makes Hues of Brews fascinating to me as an art project. Sometimes we get a simple yet elegant gradient of bubbles and color, while other times faces, shapes and galaxies appear, all to be gone in a flash. It’s so much fun and I sincerely hope others enjoy the work as much as I do.
Acquiring the Images
All images were lit by two Paul C. Buff Einstein strobes in Action Mode with 45-degree reflectors, shot at f8 with a Zeiss 100mm Milvus Macro lens. The shallow depth of field combined with the Zeiss qualities and action-stopping power of the Einsteins produced outstanding results.
As capturing all the various subtle hues of brown were of the utmost importance, the Einsteins were initially going to be used in Color Mode for accuracy. However, after testing we found the T1 just was a bit outside of what we needed for those frantic bubbles. Switching to Action Mode cleared up everything, and since the light was indeed cooler, once we color-balanced to the X-Rite Color Checker, Action Mode might well have been Color/Action Mode, because the color never wavered a bit and accuracy was clearly there. They worked flawlessly. The end result are images and prints that look incredible.
Our secret to accuracy is simply Einstein strobes, Zeiss lenses and an X-Rite Colorchecker. If you have those three sorted, you’re good.
Experience with Paul C. Buff
Like many photographers, I began with Alien Bees. They were my workhorse strobes for years and always delivered. Years ago, when I started shooting catalog and product work, I upgraded to Einsteins for more accuracy. They were fantastic. Digibees were eventually bought for location work, and although they were great, they were rationalized and sold to acquire more Einsteins. I now have only a small Einstein kit and use them for everything, as they are still fantastic.
When Hues of Brews was conceived, there was no doubt the Einsteins would deliver great results. During testing they worked flawlessly as always and other strobes never became a consideration.
The entire Hues of Brews series was shot with two Einsteins in Action Mode with 45-degree reflectors, triggered through a Cyber Commander. I can’t recall even one misfire. They are true workhorses.
Going forward, I’d like to try the LINKS I’ve heard so much about, but honestly, I’m so pleased with my Einsteins and foresee them working well and providing everything I need out of a strobe for many more years.
All our prints are made to order by the world’s best lab on Fuji Crystal Archive Maxima paper, which is a traditional photo-chemical paper. After many tests, the Fuji paper had the most consistent results and blew us away with its color, depth and clarity, and the lab with their stellar customer service and consistency.
Aside from the prints, we found a company that creates fantastic acrylic coasters and added those, along with some beautiful, robust iPhone covers. We’re adding a few shirts soon, too.
A few weeks back I made my wife an iPhone backdrop as a test and it was awesome. Although we are strong believers in physical prints and nothing can beat a fine print, our products are admittedly costly to produce. In an effort to make the work more accessible to the millions of beer lovers around the world, we decided to add iPhone backdrops at only $1.99 each. Even though the prints are where the magic is at, you can now show your love and support with an iPhone backdrop!
We are deeply humbled and grateful for all the positive feedback and customers so far. If anyone has questions or comments, please feel free to contact us anytime. We’d love to hear from you. Thank you so much.
For more Hues of Brews, please http://www.huesofbrews.com !
About Jared Schoenemann
Jared is a photographer, writer and artist in South Pasadena, California. He began his career in video after studying video production in art school and cinematography in film school. He now specializes in images of people, kids and animals for commercial and editorial clients, while still creating personal work. When not shooting, he writes a children’s book series that helps kids cultivate common sense and critical thinking skills, adventurous screenplays and is a partner at Hues of Brews. He spends the rest of his time running around with his daughter, tending the plants in his jungle home, cooking and washing endless dishes.