Food Photography: Part 2 – Photographing the Food


After the planning phase for the photo shoot is complete (see Part 1 – Preparing for the Shoot), you are now ready for the photo session. The photography area should be large enough to accommodate the lighting, the main table that the food items and accessories will be placed on, and possibly a background. A second table or surface will be handy for prepping and assembling the food items. Cooking, if needed, can be done on the second table, with a portable burner, but a separate kitchen area for cooking and washing is ideal.

Having the proper tools to prepare the food is essential, and everything that would be found in a working professional kitchen should be available. A food stylist normally brings most utensils needed to prepare the items. It’s also important to have ample foodstuffs and supplies to complete the assignment. For instance, if the image requires fresh tomatoes, then a good selection is needed to find the best-looking ones. This also applies to a product that is prepared off-site, such as bread, pies or any ready-to-eat items. Photograph the one that represents the product at its best.

The goal should be to make the food look as fresh and appealing as possible. To begin with, the best method is to use a “stand-in” sample that is an approximation of the item to be photographed. This is because many foods, after being served and sitting a while, will drip, settle, or just stop looking as fresh as it could. With the stand-in on the set, decisions can be made as to the best camera angle and height, which props add or detract from the shot, and if the lighting is enhancing the subject properly. The test shots can be scrutinized, discussed, and modified as needed. Then the “hero” food item – the one that will actually be photographed – is bought in. The photographer can now concentrate on taking the pictures quickly, and possibly with variations of angles or lighting effects.

The lighting will contribute greatly to the overall mood, and therefore appeal, of the food. Shooting in the studio will give a polished, professional look because it offers the most control over the environment, from a lighting standpoint. That’s not to say that you can not get great results on-location, but it does involve more work to control the surroundings. Most professional photographers will use multiple off-camera flash units, sometimes with diffusion between the flash head and the subject.
Proper lighting can place shadows to give the image dimension. Some foods benefit from glazing highlights, which make it look fresh and juicy, and this is achieved with prejudice light placement. A bright background can give a “sunny
morning “feel, while dim lighting may best portray an intimate dining experience.

After the first shot, the rest of the food shoot typically becomes the most productive portion, as everyone settles into the work flow. Having a variety of products or food items to choose from, a lighting style matching the use of the image, and an efficient team to keep the photos moving forward is the key to a successful food photography assignment.

You can view a sample using some of the techniques stated in this article here: []

Source by Robert Bruni