How To Build A Tower Of Sandwiches | BTS RGG Photo

It's not every day you can make one big massive sandwich tower and get paid to do it. In this behind the scenes I take you through an average shoot in our Chicago studio. You can see the team of people that come together to a shoot like this happen.

Before you even ask, the final images won't be shown in this post for two reasons but you CAN see the final captures towards the end of the video. Due to the seasonality of advertising, the Ads created from these images won't be shown for months to come and I don't feel like waiting. Also, we are currently still shooting as of today, and the files haven't even been delivered to a retoucher. So, use your imagination on what the finals would look like based off of the images provided.

Lighting Setup:


For food photography we typically have a main broad key light behind our subject that we are photographing. This gives a very natural sunlight feel to the image and helps minimize shadows, which is not desirable in food photography. For a fill, we will either use a 8 foot white card, or "V-Flat" that we've created by taping together two 4x8 foot pieces of white cardboard to make for an even fill in the shadows. In the above lighting setup, we've substituted the card with a beauty dish behind an 8x4 foot piece of #3008 ROSCO diffusion.

We then added two lights, both diffused to spread light onto our background, which is our wall, doorway, and speed racks. This combo gives us nice hints of silver tones, dark tones from the wall, and depth to our photo by shooting out of our door and into the hallway.

Sandwich Tower Grip

Fstoppers_Sandwich Tower Setup_GaryMartin

For the sandwiches, we had to stack each one on top of the other without causing compression and therefore crushing each sandwich. So we turned to 1/2 inch threaded rod, 1/2 inch bolts, and 1/2 inch washers. This allowed us to cut thin pieces of composite wood to create shelves from the back. The entire setup was held in place by our C Stands from Kupo.  At the end of the shot, once we had images for each sandwich approved, we shot the scene clean from the setup so it's easy to mask out the threaded rod in post.

If you noticed one thing about this shoot, it's that there are typically a team of people that come together to make a shoot like this come to life. Commercial photography is about creating images, not taking photos. We spend weeks planning one image, shopping for props, doing a pre-light, discussing potential problems, and concocting back up plans so when the shoot day comes we know what's going to happen before it even does.

What did you guys think of the BTS video?


Gary Winchester Martin's picture

Gary W. Martin is a commercial photography producer and founder of PRO EDU. His company creates documentary style Photography and Photoshop tutorials with some of the best photographer/instructors in the world. Gary has spent 20% of his life abroad and once made a monkey faint in Costa Rica. He speaks English and Romanian.

Log in or register to post comments

I just ate lunch and now I'm hungry again.

Ugh, those poor people in the background. Are they trying to do office work while strobes are popping in their face or are they contributing to the shoot?


Did the food stylist bring the meat slicer, or you guys keep that in the studio?

The prop stylist found and rented the slicer

Will the background items remain in the finished image?

"At the end of the shot, once we had images for each sandwich approved, we shot the scene clean from the setup so it’s easy to mask out the threaded rod in post."

Thanks Jesse... what about the metal rack in the far background and other items. I realize that the threaded rod and little pieces of shelving will be removed. Just curious about the far background. Great shots btw.

They will be there, just slightly softer. This is supposed to be in the BOH of a restaurant.

I don't like this kind of making of... Like a stop motion video or something, you can't really see whats going on there :(