Men still drinking beer – reenactment @Vaat Brewery

The first known picture of men drinking beer is dated back to 1843! Wow, that’s a looooong time ago. But why do I know that? And what do I have to do with this very old photo? And what’s the Vaat Brewery? Let me tell you the story.

PubQuiz at Vaat Brewery in Tallinn

Photo by Hill & Adamson, public domain

In August 2023 I hosted a pub quiz at the 👉 Vaat Brewery in Tallinn (you definitely should try the beer!). And of course there were a lot of questions about photography, how surprising 😁 In my research I stumbled upon a photo from 1843, where three men are drinking beer and having kinda fun. First I was happy to find a beer related photo for my pub quiz. But at the day of the pub quiz, as I prepared everything and went through all the questions for a last check, I realized, that the Vaat Brewery was founded by three men. And it is the year 2023, exactly 180 years later. Coincidence or a sign from the beer god? Anyhow, I visioned directly a photo of a reenactment of that very old picture with the three founders of Vaat. I suggested the idea and in December we Finally (also a 👉 yummy beer from Vaat) managed to gather all the three founders for a photo shoot.


When it comes to a reenactment you have to be prepared! We really wanted it to be a modern adaption of the old photo. The location was obviously the tap room of the Vaat Brewery. But instead looking for all the original probs and clothes, we decided to use the current once to underline, that there’s an evolution. The world changes, but men are still drinking beer 😁.

This was the easy part. But how to get the three guys in the same position? Howe can I manage it? Luckily I found a feature in the software for controlling my camera, where I can overlap an image to the live view of the camera. But just overlapping the original photo would have been to distracting for the guys in front of the camera. So I created a transparent an image with just a view but important outlines, which I could overlap to the live view. I mirrored my laptop screen to my iPad, so that they all could see the live view with the overlapping outlines. Now they could try to fit the outlines in order to come as close as possible to the original photo. 

Reenactment and photo shooting

On the 23rd of December we met at the tap room and I started preparing the set. Once everything was figured out we could start with the photo shoot. After every shot we compared the original with our result. And I must say these guys were super patient and made a very big effort to make this photo awesome. The outlines helped a lot and we only needed nine shots to make it nearly perfect. 


In 1843 I would have gone to the darkroom to develop my photos. Nowadays I sit at my laptop and do the post processing. But the big question for me was, what kind of style should be the final result. Of course I wanted to create a look and feel which matches the vintage vibe. But I also was curious about other versions. As I came up with the idea I thought I would do the vintage style and a modern black and white editing. But after creating the vintage style I thought, why not try out some other stuff. I always wanted to hand color a black and white photo like they did in former times. So I started to paint over a black and white version I created. I must admit, this was really hard work, but loved it. And I do love the result. Not only  because I spend so many hours on it, I think it has a beautiful style. Different to any automatic filter or Photoshop plugin. I should do this more often…

Men still drinking beer

And here are the results. Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

black and white

Thank you!

Thanks to Markus, Johann and Oliver, the three founders of the Vaat Brewery, for realizing this project together with me. 

Thanks to my lovely wife 👉 Monika, who is always such a big help on the set and manages to take some making of photos at the same time 🥰

And not to forget 👉 Ben, who has also been a big help at that day and also got some really cool behind the scenes shots. 

4 Responses

  1. Thank you Anna and Monika. The picture looks absolutely fantastic and it speaks about a lot more than three guys sharing a beer. It’s not just about a reenactment of a historic photo, but of friendship and history spanning over decades, with it’s good, it’s bad and it’s hardships. Thank you for capturing this and for this unforgettable evening. I’m going to have this on my wall and cherish it forever.

    Also, Ben, you’re an absolute hero 🙂


    1. Hi Oliver, thank you for your words, it means a lot to me 😊 I‘m so happy, that you all were into it, worked with me and that you are happy with the results! Also for me it is an unforgettable photoshoot and evening 🥰📷

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