Nader Khouri: Kombucha, Kefir and Beyond
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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