The Death Wish Coffee Project

Death Wish Coffee
Death Wish Coffee: The Strongest coffee in the world

A few months ago I came across a Death Wish Coffee,  a company that makes “the world’s strongest coffee” and I was impressed. I was really into their site and their image. Having spent a year in Vancouver working with the top tier of baristas in the coffee industry, I have always had a soft spot for smaller coffee companies like this. So I decided to reach out to them and see if they would be interested in letting me make some cinemagraphs for them and to see what sort of response that would get.

This was the first time that I ever reached out to anyone and also purposely made cinemagraphs for a project. To my surprise Death Wish was onboard and a few weeks later, I got some of the strongest coffee I had ever tasted. It came at the best possible time too. I had about 2 presentations and 3 academic papers to finish for my masters at St.FX and I needed something with a little more kick. The sad part was that all of this academic work zapped my creativity. However, once I finished and got some rest, it all came back.

The Look

With a company like Death Wish, you can’t just do the typical ultra bright and colourful style food photography shots. It simply would look out of place. So with my burnt out brain I set out to find a look that would give a “darker image” to some very dark coffee. How I found the look was when I was searching for video editing tips using photoshop cc. Most of us know that you can use photoshop for editing video and actually that is what I use for my cinemagraphs but it is not really the best at it. So I keep things simple. However, when I saw a clip of a guy using the clone tool and how that worked, I wondered if it would do the same for other plugins too.

I took some footage of the Death Wish coffee and loaded up NIK’s Analog Efex Pro 2 to see what would happen. My brain woke up from a mixture of the coffee and what I saw before me. Analog Efex Pro 2 allows you to add in some cool weathered features. While some may think that these are corny, when used properly they add a touch of darkness. Think of the look like a haunted house; dark and weathered.

Using this filter does take a long time. Photoshop adds the look to each frame as you export it. SO if you have longer footage, then it is going to take some time. However, for cinemagraphs this works out well as typically your clips are going to be quite short anyway.

The Staging

One of the other things that I came across was how to I set up the scene to not look like I just put a pot of coffee on my coffee table and took a picture of it? Being a teacher, stationery supply store are at the heart of any project. There is one near my place that has 5 floors of everything. Using some different paper and coverings for the table and background, it completed the look. I even picked up some silver and white sheet of coated cardboard for reflectors. This stuff was all relatively cheap and gave me a ton of new ideas for other cinemagraphs.

I also then had to wait until the light was right. Sadly for a few days, it was grey and overcast which proved to be a bit of a challenge when shooting in natural light. However, the sunny days came and I was on my way. For me this was great fun learning about the finer points of food photography and playing around with different ideas. This can be a great exercise in creativity if you are struggling  to fine a new creative angle. This is something that I learned in my failed attempt at the 28toMake project.

The Tips

To wrap this up and make this post useful for you here is basically what I learned:

  • Reach out to small businesses. They are more receptive than you think and these projects benefit everyone.
  • NIK software does work on video but it takes longer to render the video.
  • Hit the stationery, art supply or craft stores for material to use for your shots.
  • Be creative and explore different ideas and angles for your work.

What I was hoping to achieve from this project was to get some needed experience working with small to medium businesses looking to get a leg up with their advertising. The power that cinemagraphs can bring to a social media ad campaign is powerful and something that even large businesses are picking up on. By being more accessible to these smaller businesses it opens up a whole new area of possibilities and partnerships.

[button link=”” type=”big” color=”red” newwindow=”yes”] If you’d like to get some Death Wish Coffee for yourself click here and also check out their sweet mugs too![/button]

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