Milwaukee, WI-based photographer CJ Foeckler’s latest project for Spike Brewing captures the beer-making process and the people behind the brand who make small batch brewing equipment accessible for beer enthusiasts everywhere.
For this project, CJ was hired by Kaercher+Deuel, a small creative agency based in Milwaukee. The agency was looking to create a set of product images that would showcase the client’s products being used, so they reached out to him to see if he was interested in the project.
A couple of creative and art directors at that agency are friends of mine from a previous job and already knew my capabilities and flexibility while shooting onsite. The agency reached out to me and told me that they saw me as a perfect fit because they were looking for a more editorial approach.
The shoot would be extensive and needed to cover many different types of images that would be used for a new brand book that would be included with all of Spike Brewing’s orders. The photos would also be used on Spike Brewing’s social media channels and communicate their brand proposition.
The client liked my approach to more moody, editorial images and my ability to think fast on my feet to get many different types of images in a short time. Their intention was for this to stand alone as a representation of the brand, what they offer as a company, and do some storytelling of customer stories.
The multi-day shoot took place in various small breweries across Chatfield, MN, Indianapolis, IN, Milwaukee, WI, and finished off at Spike HQ in Milwaukee. To convey the ease of use and versatility of their home brewing products, CJ shot portraits, lifestyle, and product images at each location.
The team had a shot list for each set and scouted the breweries for possible locations the night before commencing a full-day shoot. This enabled CJ to work out his lighting approach and determine possible angles. While planning was helpful to ensure he could effectively capture all the shots needed, a willingness to be flexible to anything that might arise on the day of the shoot also proved to be a good strategy.
I kept the plan loose, as I know that things can change quickly when working onsite during a process shoot. We were open to keeping it more free-flowing as we knew that we’d see great shots from different angles as we were working. If we were locked to a specific angle for each image, we definitely would have missed some great things.
CJ enjoyed the experience of being back on set with a team after a year of smaller, more intimate shoots due to the pandemic. The talent, client, and CJ had a great rapport and could bounce ideas off each other while enjoying each other’s company.
I was reminded of how fun it is to be on set! After a year of small shoots during COVID-19, it was great to be around more people than usual.
During the shoot, CJ kept the lighting simple to maintain a natural look. He used existing lighting at each location and brought along small, battery-powered strobes to help accentuate the subjects and details while shooting in tight spaces.
The images show the brewing process step-by-step from grain to glass. From preparing the mash to undergoing the fermentation process, each image provides viewers with a close look at how beer is made by enthusiasts and professionals alike.
I learned that the brewing process is approached differently by everyone – whether it’s someone brewing in their basement or a small bar/restaurant. I had a great time seeing and learning so much about the brewing process and how easy Spike products make it for home brewers and small breweries to make their great beers.
My favorite part of the project was meeting all of the interesting people. Everyone has a different story and reason for their interest in brewing. That’s always the best part of working with people for editorial or portraits. I love it when the resulting images truly show their personality!