Journey to a Jones Soda label

Kellie Miles, Photographer

Kellie Miles

Jones Soda was first developed in 1995 and introduced in 1996 with six glass-bottled flavors: orange, cherry, lemon lime, strawberry lime, raspberry, and grape. The unique labels all featured artwork by photographer Victor John Penner. Today, Jones Soda offers sixteen flavors plus occasional seasonal additions, and that’s not the only change: they now accept photos from anyone for their labels. As an aspiring photographer, the quest to have my work featured on a bottle of my favorite soda was real. 

I had my first Jones Soda during my freshman year of high school. It seemed kind of like a novelty, so I brought it to talk to people about it. While examining the bottle, one of my friends found something on the label that caught her attention: they were accepting photo submissions for their labels on their website. I had just started getting interested in photography the summer before, and my friends became insistent that I submit some of my work for consideration to be on a label. 

I was hesitant at first, but eventually, I submitted a handful of photos and then waited to see what would happen. As the weeks went by, I noticed that one of my photos had been labeled a “Jones Staff Favorite,” but I didn’t really know what that meant, so I continued to wait, just more excited than before. A month later, I checked back and discovered that the photo had been picked to put on a label! It was truly an incredible feeling.

Kellie Miles

After I was selected, I learned more about the process. Submitting a photo is no guarantee that it will be chosen. Hundreds of thousands of photos are submitted each year, and only about 1% ever make it onto a label. Back when my first photo was chosen, Jones was still using the old system, which allowed users to see the status of their pictures and whether or not they were selected as “staff favorites”: essentially a short list for label selection. Now, users who submit photos have no idea at all whether or not their image is being considered. Once the image is uploaded, it’s a waiting game for a notification email that may or may not ever come. If a photo is selected, a letter arrives in the mail from the company along with two printed labels. From there, it’s up to you to find the actual bottle in stores: like the letter says, “happy hunting!” 

In the time since freshman year, I had three of my photos selected for labels: one in 2018, one in 2019, and one just a week ago. In a super sweet twist, both of my first two pictures ended up on the Berry Lemonade flavor, a favorite of mine. Now, I’m waiting to see if my newest selection will land on a new flavor or make it three in a row with a light blue background. Hunting for the bottle is definitely my favorite part of the process, especially when you finally find it out in the wild. Anybody who takes pictures, from professional photographer to selfie master, has a chance, so don’t delay! Get that picture into Jones Soda today.