08.10.2010

Food Photography



Hmmm... food photography is one of the photography fields I like most! One regarding thing about it is: you can eat all the fabulous content after the shooting!... NOT :-)

Actually, producing appealing pictures of food is one of the most difficult tasks for a photographer. There are several parameters he has to control:

1. As always: light is the most important key to get a subject presented the right way. Depending on the atmosphere and mood you want to create you can use flashes or daylight... or a mix of both. Daylight component gives the food a more natural mood and if you want to present the food in a "rustical" way if should be the way to go. If you want to present it the "cool" way or stylize the result with strong contrasts then flashes are the right tool. I actually prefer a mix of both worlds: I try to use as much natural light as possible and use the flashes to enhance the whole scene. Try not to get to many shadows but keep the textures... which takes us to the next parameter

2. Presentation: there is even a job called "food designer"! This peoples task is to present the food in a way that acomplishes the task of food photography: to make the viewer get hungry! To wake up one of the most basic human needs and to want him to get this tasty whatever right now into his mouth :-). There are many tricks used in this step: besides artificial components (think of ice cubes) there are the use of hair spray (yeah, you heard right) in order to let the meat/vegetables look shiny. Water colours to "paint" the food (think of the tasty brown colour for chicken) is also used and sometimes even the "burning lines" on the steak are painted. Also, be sure to have the right dishes and props to wrap around the food. Inform yourself about how this specific food is presented traditionally. Check the details!
Think about cultural differences of the aimed viewers or that are connected to the specific food: years ago, I made some pictures of asian bowls and sticks in order to create a serie for shushi restaurants. I sent them to my stock agencies and they were actually selling good... but the ones with the bowl and the stick...? Well, somebody later explained to me that positioning the sticks INTO the empty bowls was seen as a "bad sign" by some asian cultures. You learn all the time...

3. Use the right lenses: allthough there are many different ways to shoot food one of the most used is to implement a shallow depth of field. This makes the viewer concentrate on the main subject and don´t get distracted to much by the surroundings. Your task is to get the viewer hungry and to want the steak immediately... not to think too much about what kind of dish is there on the table.

4. Composition: try new angles. The normal way to look at the dish infront of you at the table is not the most appealing for the viewer. It doesn´t make him curious, ´cause that´s the way he always sees food. Try to shoot it from a lower position or perhaps from above or a little from the side.

5. Try & try & try: the best is to have the pc monitor connected directy to the camera so that you can check the results immediately, so that you don´t loose time... because food, different to a flower or a still life... doesn´t get better with the time... it gets bad. And if you need an hour to check the pictures and you realize you need to change some thing, well, then your dog will be happy to get a steak :-)

I found some interesting videos showing the work behind a food shooting. Check them out!



And here you can see a short reel of really tasty pictures:



And here a more longer collection of food pictures:




Well, after seeing all of this... I wish you a happy shooting and Bon Apetit! :-)

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