Foster’s may be “Australian for beer,” but thanks in part to Pennsylvania-based brand narrative photographer Ryan Smith, D. G. Yuengling & Son is on track to become “American for beer.” To commemorate the 185th anniversary of the Pottsville, Pennsylvania-based Yuengling—which is also America’s oldest brewery—they decided to take a new approach to their visual marketing. To do so, they knew they needed fresh images to include in their digital, print and point of sale media. That’s where Ryan comes in. Pennsylvania-based himself, Ryan was hired to create images at the original brewery, incorporating employees, Yuengling family members, beauty shots of the historic compound, and product shots of their Lager and Light Lager bottles.
This project was right up Ryan’s alley—literally and figuratively—as he’d been recently exploring his state’s rural roads and local brands. He’d even reached out to Yuengling about photographing their brewery, but due to a scheduling conflict, the shoot had been put on the back burner.
Fortunately, nine months later, Ryan got a call from the same marketing manager he’d initially reached out to concerning his personal Pennsylvania project. She’d just gotten out of a meeting about their 2014 marketing materials and had remembered Ryan’s inquiry. After looking over his work, the entire team felt he shared their creative ambitions and wanted him to be a part of their 2014 re-vamp team.
Ryan was informed that Yuengling wanted to go bigger and bolder than they’d ever gone before; so he set out to build an appropriate estimate with Wonderful Machine producer Craig Oppenheimer. Craig guided Ryan through the process—and made sure he covered everything necessary to make the Yuengling brand stand above the rest.
After his estimate was given the green light, Ryan got to work. Not only was the shoot itself a blast, but he and his crew got some free lager directly from the cask to boot. Which, in his own words was, “fucking delicious. Best lager I’ve ever had.”
Ryan says his goal with this project was to create images that “represented the proud heritage of America’s oldest brewery.” Two days of beer, brewery and buzz later, he had the shots he needed to create a true American beer story. Ryan loved shooting at the brewery, with his only challenge being working around the fully operational factory and its workers. He says he’s thankful to Yuengling for taking a chance and hiring him for the shoot,
“Not because I’m risky, but because they were taking a totally different approach to their marketing materials. They had never created photographs remotely like what I was proposing. They believed in me, and took a chance that I could do what I said I could do. And I did. They love the photos and I’m thrilled.”