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Beertography: Picturing A Winter’s Tale

In the waning light of early evening, icy rain lashes against my window as Winter pushes out Fall. Sitting comfortably in front of a crackling fireplace in my workroom, with a favourite craft beer in hand, all feels very cosy. My 27-inch monitor does not release enough heat to make the fire seem at all real, but in a carbon-responsible society it seems perfect. As I sip my creamy black stout, I reflect on the past year, what it was, and what next year might be.

Hiroshi at Parallel 49 Brewing

If you read my column regularly, you know I have a deep passion for photography, beer, and travel. What’s Brewing Magazine, page after page, issue after issue, presents stories of passion and passionate people around the world.

The origin of beer goes back thousands of years, in societies around the world. However, its history outside the Middle East and Europe dates back only to the era of European empire building. It seems that today we are seeing a hopping bloom globally of the craft at a level never before experienced. It is wonderful to travel to different continents and find delicious beers that reflect the unique local palate. It is a chance to taste, and to meet passionate brewers. An opportunity to sit and chat with locals and foreigners alike while enjoying a fine glass of lager, ale, IPA, or stout inevitably arises.

Being a photographer, I love to meet fellow artisans and portray them in their environment. Breweries hold a special place in my heart; all the stainless steel and steam produces dramatic backdrops for photos! The smell of grain transforming into wort, the hops added for bitterness and fragrance — all become a heady experience. The brewers standing amidst their drinkable science is the perfect fit for memorable and historic photographs!

Beer photography records a time of change locally and globally. Neighbourhoods with craft breweries in them change for the better. There is more local employment and neighbourhoods become more vibrant and hospitable. Brewers are proud to know that their breweries have so many positive benefits for the surrounding residents.

Gary Lohin at Central City Brewing

I recently attended the BC Craft Brewers Guild AGM and conference, along with many people I have photographed for What’s Brewing or my own projects. I greet them all as friends, with a hug and a toast. Craft brewers have their own unique style and their own take on what’s new and trending in the market. The passion they pour into their craft gets poured into your glass. Being around these creative people is inspiring and everyone enjoys the experience. I find brewers very willing to be photographed and enjoy having their breweries mentioned on social media and in print. They are proud of what they do and of being part of the global craft beer renaissance.

A friend suggested forming a group called Beertographers. We could meet up every two months to take a brewery tour, have a few beers, and take some pictures. The group would focus on one brewery each meeting, enjoying creativity behind the lens and on the table. And no snobbery: any camera, from a smartphone to a DSLR would be welcome. Every four months or so we could review our best photos. Some will say, ”there are already beer tours, so why do this?” This idea is different — it is about looking at the craftsmanship of a brewery and celebrating art and passion together. If you are interested, email me ([email protected]).

With so many breweries populating our province, every road trip can include some beer exploration. I look forward to meeting new friends and sharing their passion in front of the camera and in the glass before me.

And to all, a good night.


Brian K. Smith

Brian K. Smith, MPA is an accredited member of the BC Association of Travel Writers. He is a member of Professional Photographers of Canada with a Master of Photographic Arts designation. Brian writes the Have Camera, Will Travel column and is Chief Photographer for What's Brewing.

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