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?"
Articles written by Taylor Mathis
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?
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.
"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.
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.
What is the best lens? If you shoot wildlife, a long zoom lens will bring you close to the action but allow you to keep your distance so as not to startle your subject. If you shoot architecture, a tilt shift lens will allow you to make sure all the lines of your room or building are straight. Shooting weddings? You will most likely need a lens that can zoom for a variety of wide and close shots. When photographing food there is only one way to get those close up mouthwatering shots that your clients desire! Allow me to show you how a lens with macro capabilities will change how you shoot food!
Food styling can take place in the production kitchen and in front of the camera. How do you know when and where to style your food? The answer will depend on what food you are shooting. For food with long shelf lives, like cupcakes, the dish will generally be camera ready when it leaves the kitchen. If the dish involves a sauce and a variety of garnishes, the styling will occur both in the kitchen and in front of the camera. Here is a behind the scenes look at a dish that involves styling in both locations: The Meatball Sandwich.
If you are a professional, or an aspiring professional photographer, you rely on your photographic work to bring you financial rewards. Self satisfaction alone, won’t pay rent, put gas in your car, or food on the table. If you want to earn money from your pictures, then you will have to find someone to pay you for them. Here are a few strategies that you can implement to start selling your food photography!
The film industry has the Oscars. The music industry has the Grammys. Broadway has the Tony Awards. The annual awards that celebrate the best and brightest of the culinary world are the James Beard Foundation Awards. NYC based photographer Landon Nordeman set up backstage at the 2013 awards with just an iPhone for a camera. The results are a captivating black and white series of shots that each capture the range of emotions of the night.
Have you ever been assigned to take pictures of a chef's creations in a restaurant? Photographing food on location at a restaurant is a very common assignment for a food photographer. I have an editorial client that sends me to 4 or 5 restaurants every month to take pictures of the dishes. Through these assignments, I have discovered that most restaurants are not designed with the photography in mind.
When you hear the words cinnamon rolls, what comes to mind? Is it a roll hot out of the oven with a rich creamy icing oozing over the sides? Or do you picture a Saturday morning breakfast with a dish of rolls that have been covered in a rich thick cream cheese frosting? Neither vision of a cinnamon roll is right nor wrong. The key in turning these cinnamon roll visions into reality is the styling.
Food photography will at times take you out of the studio and on location. It may be to a restaurant, a farm, or a bakery. If you have to travel to where the food is, then you will have to think about what background you will shoot on. When shooting at a restaurant, capturing the decor and ambiance of the dining room with the dish is preferred by the client. Capturing the tables, walls, or any other distinctive features of the restaurant in the background will enhance your image of the dish. When shooting a food product, the ambiance might not be there. What do you do if all you have are grey walls and a metal counter top?
Are you interested in adding food photography to your portfolio, but don’t know where to start? Don’t be intimidated. Yes, you can spend a lot of money on expensive lighting equipment, lenses and cameras, but these aren’t necessary to make a beautiful food image. If you are a portrait photographer, landscape photographer, sports photographer, or an expert instagrammer, you can use the gear you already have to make beautiful images of your food!
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Photographers may scream when they hear that ice cream is what the client wants. Ice cream is not easy to work with. Once it starts melting, it is done and you need to move on to the next dish. Unless you are shooting in a freezer, the working window for ice cream isn't very long. There are many different ways photographers and food stylists will approach ice cream. For this series of pint-sized sundaes, I let the ice cream's container be the guide for the styling.
What do you picture when you hear the words "Chocolate Chip Cookies?" Is it a soft, round, light brown cookie with loads of chocolate chips? Or is it a crunchier darker brown cookie perfect for dipping in milk? Above are all examples of chocolate chip cookies. Is one of them a better picture that the other? That depends on the purpose of your image. If your client is expecting the cookies to look like the image splashing in the milk, then they won't be happy with the other two images.
Have you found yourself in a lighting rut? Do you have two or three "go to" lighting set ups that you find yourself continuously falling back on? Lately, I have found myself in a rut. For a little change of pace, I decided to shoot my favorite food, cupcakes, using a light source that is not very common in food photography: the ring flash.
I have been following Stephen Hamilton’s work for the past couple of years. I first came across the Chicago-based food photographer’s work through his personal work and project called “The Restaurant Project.” In this project, Stephen has dined at restaurants throughout the country experiencing new dishes that chefs have to offer. While dining he takes an iPhone image. From this image, he recreates a beautiful shot of the meal back in his studio. I have enjoyed seeing Stephen's recreations and contacted him to learn more about the project. Here are 7 questions with Stephen Hamilton.
From cookbooks in bookstore windows to magazine covers you pass in the grocery store check outline, it is hard not to notice the overhead camera view's popularity in food photography. If you are going to shoot your food overhead, there is one piece of equipment that will make your job a lot easier: The Tripod Arm.
Americans love football. For around four and a half months every fall fans by the thousands flood parking lots on Sundays to eat, drink, and celebrate their team. This is the world of NFL Tailgating. Last season, brothers John and Mike Trupiano traveled over 25,000 miles in an RV with a film crew to see how the NFL tailgates. The Trupianos attended a regular season game at all 32 of the NFL’s franchises. Last September, I met John and Mike when they were at a Carolina Panthers game in Charlotte. Now that they have completed this tailgating journey, I caught up with the brothers to find out more about their 32-game trip.
A still image of food will make you hungry, but there is something about a food video that can take that hunger to another level. There are aspects of the cooking process that just don’t translate as well in the still form as they do in video. Claire Thomas has taken these delicious moments and developed a style that showcases them in short 30-60 second videos. I contacted Claire to find out how she developed her style and what inspires her to make these mouthwatering shorts.