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Taylor Mathis

Staff Writer http://www.taylormathisphotography.com @taylor_mathisFacebook
Hey My name is Taylor Mathis. I am a food photographer, cookbook author, and blogger. I write about food and photography on Taylor Takes a Taste and publish a food photography magazine called photographing FOOD. I live in Charlotte, NC, and love anything to do with food, college football, and Dachshunds.

Food Styling Basics

Have you ever looked at a picture of a dish and been embarrassed? It could be that a sliver of drool escapes from your salivating mouth. Or you could be a crowded place and looking at a food shot causes an embarrassingly loud rumble from your stomach. Looking around and pretending that it wasn’t you won’t save you. The food photographer and stylist have done their jobs. They have made you hungry. So how did that do it? [more]

Food Styling and Lighting with Ceviche

Have you had trouble lighting reflective surfaces? If you were given a food like ceviche to style, would you know where to begin? In this post, I am going to show you how I styled and shot a scallop and peach ceviche recipe. Here is a little background on the shot. The recipe developer meant for this dish to be served at an outdoor entertaining event, and wanted to highlight the light refreshing nature of the dish. With this in mind, I chose lighting and props that would help communicate this. Here is how I created the shot.

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Balancing Flash and Ambient Light In A Restaurant

Restaurant’s interiors can be just as beautiful and recognizable as the dishes that they create. When shooting a dish, you may want to include some of a restaurant’s interior elements in the shot. These can be chairs, walls, light fixtures, or anything else that shows off the restaurant’s character. To do this, you will need to be able to balance the light you are creating with a flash and the ambient light in the restaurant. Here is a look at how I did this on a recent assignment involving a burger and beer.

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Getting A Grip On Your Food Photography

Have you ever wished you had an extra hand that you could set a prop in and know that it wouldn’t move? Fortunately photographers and videographers have dozens of clamps, clips, stands, and arms that allow them to place any piece of lighting gear, lighting modifier, or prop anywhere they would like to. You could have a model or member of your crew hold a utensil in place, but there is a high chance that they will experience fatigue and drop the food. Here is a solution that uses grip gear to ensure your food will stay in place for as long as you would like.

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A Countertop Lighting Setup

When taking pictures of food in a kitchen you will almost always have to create your own lighting environment. Restaurant kitchens are usually lit by overhead fluorescent lighting that won’t help you make a beautiful picture of a dish. In these situations, you will have to make your own light. There is a problem, though. What happens when the shooting space is so small that you can’t fit a softbox or light stand into the kitchen? If you ever find yourself with only a counter top sized area to shoot on, this lighting set-up will create the shot you need!

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What I Learned From Photographing 35 College Football Tailgates

In the fall of 2010, I decided to shoot my dream assignment. I knew that no one was going to pay me to go out and tackle this subject matter, and I had not seen any photographer do what I wanted to do, so I did it. At the time, I had no idea what the assignment would turn in to or how it would change me as a photographer and a person. Here is what I learned from photographing 35 College Football Tailgates.

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A Simple Way To Light Your Food

What do you do when you find yourself in a restaurant without a decent window to shoot by? You will have to create your own light. If you are new to food photography and never had to use artificial light to light a dish, you may find yourself unsure of where to start. You don’t need multiple flashes and a bunch of modifiers to create a beautiful shot. All you need is a flash, a light stand, a large diffusion source, and a piece of white foam board. Here is how I use these tools to create a beautiful backlit shot.

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An Overhead Look At Ingredient Shots

Every finished dish in a restaurant or final recipe shot is made up of different ingredients. These ingredients can be a wide range of things. Some ingredients, like fruits and vegetables, are equally delicious as a component in a dish or as a meal on their own. Other ingredients like flour, salt, and sugar, are best used as the building blocks for that final meal. When your are assigned to shoot a series of recipes or plated dishes at a restaurant, it is very common that your Art Director or client will want to include an overhead shot of just the common ingredient. Here are a few examples of when this shot is useful.

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Finding Perfect Light With Homemade Light Modifiers

What is “perfect lighting?” It will differ for every style of photography and every photographer’s style. For my food photography, I think the perfect lighting is the soft, beautiful, natural light found from a large window with indirect sun coming through. Unfortunately, most of the locations where I have to go and shoot food don’t have this light that I am looking for. In order to get the shoot done, I have to to create the light. What if I could create this “perfect light” and have it for every assignment?

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Do You Know Your Culinary Vocabulary?

Broiling, braising, blanching, roasting, smoking, sautéing, and frying are just a few of the cooking methods that can be done to food. Do you know how they will visually change the appearance of your food? Did you know that some parsley has curly leaves, while other varieties have flat leaves? Would you be able to tell the difference between a julienne, brunoise, or a dice? The culinary world has a vocabulary all its own. Knowing these terms and how they effect the look of food is a necessary skill for every food photographer.

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How To Choose An Aperture For Your Food Photography

How do you choose the right aperture for an image? If you are shooting at night with only available light, you may prefer a faster, wide open aperture to let more ambient light through your lens. If you are shooting a landscape, a smaller, stopped down aperture will give you a deeper depth of field and ensure your whole landscape is in focus. On the contrary, if you are doing a creative portrait session, a shallow depth of field can create an interesting and captivating portrait. If you are new to food photography, you may find yourself wondering, “What is the best aperture to shoot with?”

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An Introduction to Outdoor Food Photography

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, Summer is officially here! This means plenty of picnics, outdoor barbecues, and many more occasions where you can take pictures of food outside! When outside, you won’t have control of the weather conditions. To be able to have nice, soft, diffused light in any weather, there is one piece of equipment that I always bring with me. It is small, light-weight, and essential to creating mouthwatering pictures of food on a bright sunny day. Can you guess what it is?

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LED or Flash? Which is right for you?

If you shoot on location, you know that the size and weight of the gear is important. Shooting in bakeries, restaurants, and kitchens will provide you with a wide range of room size and lighting conditions. There may not be beautiful window light, outlets, or a large area that you are able to shoot in. To be prepared for any shooting environment in the culinary world you need a light-weight, compact, and battery-powered lighting system. In designing this system, you have two choices: LED or Flash.

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$5 Fixes For Your Food Photography

“Oh, I can just fix that in Photoshop® after the Shoot.” Have you ever heard a photographer say that, or thought that yourself? Yes, Photoshop® is an amazing program that can fix almost anything, but the time it takes to do so is often longer than just fixing it on set. Worse than the time it takes, what if it is something that you just can’t fix? Having to tell your client that you need to re-shoot something when you could have easily fixed it on set could be an expensive mistake to make. When shooting food, many solutions to retouching problems will costs less than $5. Here are a few of my favorite items that will save you time and money on post-production.
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Creating Your Own Food Photography Backgrounds

There are  many different surfaces that you can shoot your food photography on. You can use a table in your kitchen, a table in a restaurant, the floor, or any other flat surface that you can find. When selecting a surface, the colors, patterns, and textures of the surface will have a great effect on the look and feel of your final image. With the background playing such an important role in your image, there should be some thought put into what you shoot on. The best way to control this is to make your own backgrounds! Let me show you why wooden planks are my favorite surface to shoot on.

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