Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Food Photography Tips for Beginners

photo taken at Tea Republic, Enterprise Center, Makati

This is a post from Yahoo Answers on what are the best thing to remember when doing Food Photography. I am in that path now and Im currently looking for some tips to shoot food. I want this to be a a long time career and I do believe shooting food is a great challenge. I want to share these tips that I found at yahoo answers,I hope you would benefit from it as well like I did. 

From Tim : 

Food photography is incredibly difficult. In fact, it might be one of the most difficult types of photography out there.
There is an entire industry of food stylists that make $200 to $500 per hour just to arrange food to make it look appetizing in photos.

If you have to do it quick, cheap, and easy, here is what I recommend to start:

-Get a spray bottle filled with 50/50 glycerin and water. Spray it on things like meat to make it look like it is sweating. Also, use it on the outside of glasses to make it look cold.

-Get at least a single spot light. It doesn't have to be expensive. A light from the hardware store is fine. Place the light above, behind (shining towards the camera,) and at a 45 degree angle to the food so that the light sweeps across the surface of it. Use a second light or reflector for fill light.

-Get the camera low. Food looks the best when the camera is close to table level. Google "Food Photography" for examples.

photo taken from Tea Republic, Enterprise Center, Makati

-Take your time. Food will stay photographable for longer than you think. Pay attention to what you are doing. Shoot tethered to a computer for instant feedback.

-Use a fast lens with a shallow depth of field. You should be shooting at f/2.8 or wider. 

-Use a tilt shift lens or fake the effect in Photoshop.

-Charge appropriately. A professional food photographer would be charging in the realm of $5,000 to $10,000 for a one day shoot. You might not be a pro, but your time is still valuable and so are the photos you are creating.

photo taken at Crave Burger, BGC
From Jeannie :

I've shot a lot of food, and while I find it preferable to shooting say, weddings, that's mainly because the food can't complain. 

Tim's advice is pretty good. If you do the hardware store route, get a full color spectrum light with a big reflector dish - like for plants. You may have to jury rig a wire frame onto it so you can place diffusion material in front of it but still leave room for the heat to escape. Clothes pins are your friend. The bare light may be too harsh and create too much contrast, especially on the edges. Be sure to use bounce cards and/or reflectors. Look carefully that the cards, the camera, you, your client and anybody/anything else is not reflected in the silverware, glassware or plates. 

Be sure all glassware, silverware, plates, etc. are sparkling clean. One tiny smudge will stick out like a sore thumb. Wash everything well, then rinse it in vinegar water. Cut out aluminum foil or a silver card to just fit the back of the glasses behind the liquid to bounce light back. Otherwise the stuff will look deader than last years leaves. Then put the glycerine/water mixture on, but spray lightly. Don't touch the glycerine after you've applied it - handle the glass from the back. Small make up mirrors are also really useful - the kind with the little feet so you can stand them up-the light is brighter than a bounce card and has an entirely different quality and you just aim them where you need them. If you need to elevate cards or the mirror(s), books are great if you don't have stands. 

Do not shoot it outside. You can't control the light well, and the food will get cold (or stale) quickly. As a poor student I once did a pizza shoot outside in January. It was a real trick keeping the cheese runny enough (hand held blow torch). So stay inside. 

photo taken at Ilocos Empanada. Katipunan Ave.

Keep your set simple and keep it clean. Make sure the dish is the star of the photo. On every shoot I did for my own clients, and for everyone I assisted, there were two copies of the food. One was for focusing and lighting set up, then the "hero" was placed in the set just before we took the real shot. It depends on what you're shooting if you need two or not. Ice cream, you need two. Burritos and beans, maybe not, but bring the blow torch and keep an eye on the cheese. It will look bad first. Have the chef/cook make the plate as pretty as possible, clean the edges, make sure the plate is balanced. The important thing is get it as perfect looking as possible, and if you're going to break it, do it attractively, and biscuits, rolls look better if you break out 1/3 rather than 1/2. You may need more than one just to get that right. Get close to the food and down low then shoot wide open. Look at high end food and wine magazines, the print edition not the online. I looked at gourmet's site the other day and they are obviously accepting photos from the general public, which should be a crime. 

Steam: the way we did steam was to fill a tampon with water, microwave it and hide it behind the food, which of course is not edible. Works great, but there is an ewwww factor, and believe me NOBODY will try to sample anything if you do this.

To tilt the plate, which is great if you don't have a tilt shift lens, buy some small wooden wedges when you're at the hardware store getting the light. Have them cut them for you from a 1 x 1 if possible. Tape these to the back of plate and viola! you have no tilt problems. You can put small ones under glasses, but disguise the base of the glass with a napkin or the edge of the plate. White matchbooks work too.

Keep the background simple, plain and stay away from blue. It doesn't do anything to help food look better. The hue is just wrong for food in most cases. A white tablecloth will act as a mini fill card and help fill the black holes under the plates. 

Blow the set off with canned air just before you shoot, and make sure if you are going to strategically
place crumbs you do so after, and don't do too many. 

Delicious Gyoza taken  from Atzu Atzu in Araneta Avenue.
If at first you don't succeed, shoot it again. Food is really, really hard. You need a million little things besides the camera. But, it is doable. Charge them for every minute you work, and charge them well. I charged $1000 bucks for that pizza shoot and the guy was glad to pay it. Knew he was getting off cheap (1996, '97.) If they went to a pro with a studio and lots of experience, a single shot is 5 to 10 K. Seriously. Food is the hardest subject in photo and you get paid accordingly. (At least there is no mother of bride along!)

from Yahoo Answers Link

1 comment:

  1. It was really nice to study your post. I collect some good points here. I would like to be appreciative you with the hard work you have made in skill this is great article.


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