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Food Photography Workshop Outline

If you attended the workshop on Tuesday night then you remember that I promised to post my outline to save you from taking notes. Here it is – keep in mind it’s not written as a tutorial. It’s simply a list of points I made for myself to keep on track and on time during my presentation but you are welcome to copy it for yourself.

A few types of food photography

Recipe photography

Menu & restaurant photography

Food product/label photography

Angles to shoot food

Diner’s perspective
menu and advertisements

Overhead perspective
recipe photography & soup
Tilt-shift perspective or lensbaby is good

Low angle perspective
tall & layered food
show restaurant or surroundings in background

Get in close to the food
Leave a bit of plate or dish as frame of reference in shot

Shallow depth of field is generally good and can guide the viewers eye

Plates

White plates always work

Square plates look classy

Small plates are easier to fill with food and then don’t look bare

Ornate and colorful plates work well with appetizers, candy, etc.

Surfaces

Home supply or hardware store has an endless supply
wood planks, corkboard, tiles, formica sheet, bamboo mats, plexiglass

Backgrounds

Environmental
restaurant, picnic table, porch,

Studio
seamless, fabric, foamcore (paint any color with matte paint)

Lighting

Think about what the light in the shot’s environment should look like: interior/exterior, warm/cool
Elegant restaurant might need dark background with lighting only on food
Health food joint might need bright background, pastel colors
BBQ might be outside in warm afternoon light
Breakfast might require bright yet cool lighting
Morning light looks cooler because of dilated pupils, fog, mist etc.

Goal of lighting is to show shape and texture of food
Typical light is low and behind – 1 or 2 o’clock position with front fill
Rake light across food to show texture
Too much fill flattens dimensionality

Don’t directly light glass or liquids
glass and liquids pick up light and color from reflective surroundings
light the surroundings instead

Props

Use props that are appropriate to the scene
Use them sparingly – complement the food, don’t compete with it for attention.
More appropriate for menu and advertising shots
Less appropriate for recipe and label shots

Styling

Use a stylist for food as you would a makeup artist for a model
Your job is lighting and exposure, their job is to make food look good for the camera

Use a stand-in item when setting up a shot
Use the “hero” food when you are ready to shoot for real

Vegetable oil is an easy way to make food look fresh
Steam can be faked with smoke pellets or even a cigarette camouflaged in food
Steam requires darker background and backlighting to really stand out
Trengove is a great food shooter supply house in NYC
You can get fake ice cubes there (really good ones are as much as $35 each)
Ice powder is used on cold glasses and bottles in ads
They have rentals of splashes, spills, ice cream, sushi, fruit, poultry, etc.

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