Austin photographer’s craft beer photos raise money for breast cancer group

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Julien Fleury spent a couple hours on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, capturing photos for his Beers on Pink event this Saturday. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The photos are striking: custom-made ceramic mugs, overflowing with a variety of local craft beers, all set on bright pink backgrounds.

Austin beverage and food photographer Julien Fleury captured the images last month and will auction them off Saturday, Oct. 19, as part of his 4th annual Beers on Pink event to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

One of the photos Fleury will auction off on Saturday, Oct. 19. Austin Beerworks is one of 12 breweries who donated beer for the photo shoot. (Photo Courtesy: Julien Fleury)

Local ceramics artist Samantha Heligman made the goblets and pint glasses and will auction off the vessels alongside the one-of-a-kind photo prints. Fleury and Heligman teamed up last year, too, and raised about $3,000 for the NBCF. Their goal this year is $3,500.

“My family’s been touched by breast cancer,” Heligman said during the photoshoot at Fleury’s J-Squared Studios. “Thought it was a great way to give back.”

‘What can I do?’

Fleury started the event after his mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer a few years ago. “I remember just like getting in my car and just driving,” he said. “I didn’t want to accept it.”

A family photo shows Fleury and his mom, who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer a few years ago. (Photo Courtesy: Julien Fleury)

He wanted to do something to help, but “as a beverage and food photographer, I was like, ‘What can I do?'”

With a number of local breweries as clients, he came up with the idea for Beers on Pink, “my own little way of trying to find a way to help,” and the breweries were on board immediately. The first year, he hoped to have five different beers to photograph.

“Ended up getting 20,” he said.

This year there’s an even 12-pack of local breweries: Austin Beerworks, The Brewtorium Brewery & Kitchen, Celis Brewery, 4th Tap Brewing Co-op, Circle Brewing Company, Zilker Brewing Company, Pinthouse Pizza, Hops and Grain, The Brewer’s Table, Friends and Allies Brewing, Infamous Brewing Company and Lazarus Brewing Co.

The process

The first two years, he photographed the beers in ordinary glasses; last year he joined forces with Heligman.

“When he told me that he was auctioning off the pictures, it was like, well why don’t we make vessels that we can also auction off?” she said.

It’s a real craft trying to get just the right image of beer foam pouring seductively over the ceramic rim, framing the brewery’s logo in spilled suds.

“You just want to grab the glass and take a drink of it,” Fleury explained. “That’s the point.”

Heligman adjusts one of her ceramic pint glasses at Fleury’s instruction. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

The entire process took a couple hours on Sunday, Sept. 22. Fleury snapped a few photos of each beer as it was poured, cutting and replacing the thick pink paper background when it became too damp.

Fleury then edited the photos over the next couple weeks, preparing to print a single copy of each for Saturday’s silent auction.

A good cause

Fleury’s mom was in the hospital during the first Beers on Pink, but he showed her pictures of the event. He chose to donate the funds to the NBCF because they promote and provide regular screenings.

His mom’s form of cancer was aggressive, Fleury said, but “she caught it early, which is the reason she was able to live as long as she did.”

She died three years ago this December; Fluery hopes his craft can help others catch it in time.

Beers on Pink starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at J-Squared Studios at 1023 Springdale Road, Building 2, Suite B. Admission is free, but the photographer suggests a $10 donation to the foundation. Donations can also be made here.

Celis Brewery is one of the 12 craft beer-makers participating in this year’s Beers on Pink event. (Photo Courtesy: Julien Fleury)

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