Fashion Photographer Sets His Eye On Food

If you have ever wanted to frustrate yourself as a photographer, try shooting food and actually make it look appetizing. Edward Gowans, a photographer based out of Portland Oregon, has made a living shooting food for almost 20 years. Edward learned there was a big market in the northwest looking for stylized culinary images. Using the lighting knowledge he gained from shooting fashion models, Edward began creating stylized culinary images for his clients. As you can see in this video, some of his setups are pretty extensive and sometimes take full days to design. With food, the light often needs to be scrimmed, flagged, and reflected perfectly to showcase both the textures and colors of a well plated dish. Check out more of Ed's work in his portfolio here.

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Dan's picture

Did he really say it is all about the pears??? Get serious dude.

George Quiroga's picture

Dan - the pears payed the bill. So yes it is all about the pears. ;-)

This genre of photography looks like it is one for perfectionists working in collaboration with other perfectionists. Could be stressful but extremely challenging.

Mike Distras's picture

It maybe me not fully understanding food photography, however I think its the "Food Stylist/Chef/Whoever it is that has tweezers moving something" that really makes the shot.

I understand the photographer has to light it enough in the right way etc, but to me the majority of the work is done by whoever moves the finer, tiny details of the shot.

Patrick Hall's picture

I definitely think it's a collaborative process. The stylist can really make or break an image for sure. You could probably let the stylist move the items on the plate to increase the highlights and appeal of the food or you can have the photographer add bounce cards, scrims, and other modifiers to change the light to highlight the plated food as it is. If you have both people working together you can really accomplish a lot. We've all seen poor food shots where the plating was awesome but it never popped off the page because the lighting was bad as well as shots where the lighting looked great but the food didn't look very desirable.

Mike Distras's picture

True... I just feel like the food photos I did are quite good to say the set up wasnt anything too extravagant...

Or maybe mine are terrible and I think they're better than what they are haha!

Ed Hall's picture

It is a collaborative process with a health does of perfectionism all around… a key element is having a stylist or chef that knows that preparing food for photography is different than food to eat… and I'm not just talking about all those tricks we have heard about, [motor oil for beer, using a curling iron for grill marks, etc…] I have been on restaurant shoots where the chef has said oh I'd give you the dish to eat but half of it is only 1/4 cooked.

The thing that surprises me the most in the video is that he is using Normans… the sledgehammer of lighting. I guess that is why there is so much scrimming and geling involved