For beautiful salivating food photography, you don't need a lot of lighting equipment. To create a shot that will make your viewer's stomach start to rumble you only need one diffused light source. Using only one light source creates a natural look with one set of shadows. By changing the direction and intensity of these shadows, you can create countless lighting scenarios that will leave your viewers hungry. Let me show you how one light can provide many options.
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Do you use a sweep in your portrait or large product photography? Sure a roll of paper several yards in length is necessary for photographing people and large products, but what about food and small products? Walking into a bakery or the back of a kitchen with two C stands and a large roll of paper is not going to work in the often small kitchen shooting environments.
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.
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.
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.
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?
You probably know by now that natural light from a window will create beautiful images. This free and readily available light source is my first go-to when shooting food and portraits. It yields beautiful results, but has a downside. It can change on you throughout a shoot. In order to achieve the look you are after, it is best to understand your options and find the best natural light source for you!
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!
All restaurants aren't the same. They will serve different dishes, have different interiors, and charge different amounts for what they serve. When you are assigned to shoot a restaurant's signature dish, you will find that all restaurants will have one thing in common. There will be a table for guests to dine at, and for you to shoot at. Do you think of a table as just a table? Before you brush off the importance of selecting the right shooting surface, let me show you a few examples of how this decision will impact your image.
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!
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.
Have you ever eaten at a fine dining restaurant? You know the type of place with white table cloths, 3 different forks, and you have to have a reservation to get a table? In fine dining restaurants, the dishes look a little different; the plates are works of art! The colors, textures, and placement on the plate are all done with very specific intentions. This type of beautiful plating is becoming more widespread than you might think. No longer is it reserved for the restaurants where you know your check will have three digits in it. If you are hired to shoot at these locations, make sure to capture the beauty of the plate! Here are some tips to help you out.
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?"
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.