Nader Khouri: Kombucha, Kefir and Beyond

Oct 9, 2017
Photographer Spotlight

San Francisco-based photographer Nader Khouri recently photographed a newly published book entitled Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond for Quarto Books. Quarto Books is a publishing company based out of Boston that publishes a wide range of subjects from art, to graphic design, to cookbooks, and gardening.  

nader khouri, quarto books, kombucha kefir and beyond, alex lewin, raquel guajardo, leila nichols, aubri balk inc, san francisco, california, food and drink photography, liquids photography, still life photography

The Art Director from Quarto Books was looking for a photographer to do a four-day shoot for a new book about fermented drinks. The book’s author lives in San Francisco, and Nader shows an extensive portfolio of beverage photography, so it seemed natural that Quarto Books would reach out to him for this project.

nader khouri, quarto books, kombucha kefir and beyond, alex lewin, raquel guajardo, leila nichols, aubri balk inc, san francisco, california, food and drink photography, liquids photography, still life photography

The book would feature a large variety of fermented drinks that readers could make at home, many of which are uncommon and rarely heard of.

Many people know of Kombucha, but have you heard of Beet Kvass or Tepache?

nader khouri, quarto books, kombucha kefir and beyond, alex lewin, raquel guajardo, leila nichols, aubri balk inc, san francisco, california, food and drink photography, liquids photography, still life photography

Prior to the shoot, Nader did a lot of research into these drinks and familiarized himself with the publisher and the author.

To familiarize myself, I asked the author if he would have me over to his house to show me all the different fermentations he was working on for the shoot. Have you ever heard of scoby? It’s what they use to ferment Kombucha. It almost looks like an alien. He showed me stuff like that.

nader khouri, quarto books, kombucha kefir and beyond, alex lewin, raquel guajardo, leila nichols, aubri balk inc, san francisco, california, food and drink photography, liquids photography, still life photography

Nader received a mood board and a creative brief for the shoot and was responsible for putting together the shot-list. With four days’ worth of photographs, they would need a lot of props, so they brought prop stylist Leila Nichols from Aubri Balk Inc. onto the project to provide glassware and surface variety. Nader wanted to make sure that the drinks were captivating and unique in the photos as well.

The goal was to add a little extra to make the drinks feel active. I could have photographed the drinks like still life shots, but it would have been too redundant throughout. So I was able to incorporate pours and drips into a number of shots.

nader khouri, quarto books, kombucha kefir and beyond, alex lewin, raquel guajardo, leila nichols, aubri balk inc, san francisco, california, food and drink photography, liquids photography, still life photography

On the shoot itself, Nader took the time to try most of what they were shooting so he could capture the essence of the drink and photograph it accordingly.

One of the shots we did was prison wine, or also called Hooch. All you need is fruit and sugar to make booze in prison. I tasted it only to find that we weren’t even shooting the final product, just the ingredients, so it basically just tasted like canned orange juice.

nader khouri, quarto books, kombucha kefir and beyond, alex lewin, raquel guajardo, leila nichols, aubri balk inc, san francisco, california, food and drink photography, liquids photography, still life photography

When shooting beverages, managing the lighting and reflections off the glassware is always a challenge, especially when trying to capture specific drips and drops of liquid. This was most challenging with the cover photo, which featured an assortment of drinks included in the book. Nader and his team were patient and took numerous shots to capture the right images and make sure the lighting was consistent throughout the book.

nader khouri, quarto books, kombucha kefir and beyond, alex lewin, raquel guajardo, leila nichols, aubri balk inc, san francisco, california, food and drink photography, liquids photography, still life photography

While shooting a big batch of Kombucha, we had to block a ton of reflections from the large jar, so even if you were standing on set it felt as if you were photographing some top-secret beverage. I posted a shot on my social media and asked people to guess. I gave them a hint and all the Kombucha lovers guessed right.

nader khouri, quarto books, kombucha kefir and beyond, alex lewin, raquel guajardo, leila nichols, aubri balk inc, san francisco, california, food and drink photography, liquids photography, still life photography

The book was published on September 1st, 2017 and has been extremely well-received. The author and publisher provided nothing but positive feedback about the images and Nader was thrilled with how the reproduction turned out in print.

See more of Nader at naderkhouri.com!

And check out our other members on our Find Photographers page. 

Tags: alex lewin aubri balk inc california food and drink photography kombucha, kefir and beyond leila nichols liquids photography nader khouri quarto books raquel guajardo san francisco still life photography wonderful machine