Monday, November 19, 2012

Learning Food Photography with Mark Floro

I feel like I'm the luckiest person on earth right now. I always wanted to attend a decent food photography seminar but the thing is., its quite expensive. Thanks to my good friend, Aron Lim, i got in for free! He invited me on a  food photography seminar by one of the best advertising photographer in the country no other than Mark Floro! The seminar was made possible  by the joint efforts of the  members of Accenture Photography Club. 

I always look up to Mark because his photos are really good most specially in shooting food. He is a master playing with highlights and shadows. His Halo-Halo shots at Chowking is very beautiful!  His photo with the syrup dripping down slowly from the leche flan is really awesome... He's also one of the best when it comes to architectural and product photography! 

There are some interesting facts about Sir Mark. He graduated with a degree in political science! But he really wanted to be a photographer and he followed his passion. He went to the states and finished a degree in advertising photography at Art Center College of Design  in Pasadena California. One of the biggest school of design in the states. He is a frustrated painter, just like me.. and he doesnt know how to photograph fireworks! but he can google it anytime he said :)  He believes that light is the key factor to any means of photography. Know how to control it and he assures you, you will make wonders in your photos.  

mark discussing about advertising photography
Mark uses continuous lights in most of his photos. He said you should light the subject according to your intent. Always look for the strong "point of view" on your subject. Then make it sharp and properly exposed. Theres no such thing as good angles. It really depends on the food. Lessen the props. Shoot the food dead on. As much as possible shoot the food with the whole plate then leave the cropping to the editor or the client or give your own cropped shot later. Always shoot RAW and tethered whenever possible. Use a booster cable (A-Ten , available at Octagon) to connect your camera to your computer.

mark floro's popular strawberry dip shot. 
When doing food photography, one must provoke an emotion. That ooohh.. that ahhhh, that yummmm. It should be there! To the point that you will still love to eat the food even if you're already full! Mark gave us a great tip when handling  a food presentation with client. He said, deprive them of food. Never schedule a photoshoot after lunch! Talk to them when they'r hungry for sure an ordinary photo will definitely look good!

it doesnt have to be expensive
Some of his photography stuff can be found almost anywhere! These two jugs of water are his weights for his tripod to make it sturdy. Very ingenious actually because if you gonna buy weights for your tripod and  lightstands, for sure it will cost a lot.  

a very unusual flag that came from an endangered animal
He showed us this feather and it came from a monkey eating eagle! (or eating eagle monkey..monkey eagle eating..mark blurted). He uses this one to flag or block the light from its source creating beautiful shadows onto the subject. 

insulation material as reflectors
When shooting food for a client, you must remember one thing, you should always hire a professional food stylist. The photographer and the food stylist should work hand in hand. The food stylist actually creates your photo. Thats why the food stylist must be really good if you want to achieve quality photographs. If not, you will just glorify horrible looking dishes! Mark's food stylist is his wife Linda who owns an Itallian restaurant called  Buon Giorno in Tagaytay.

styling for the on the spot photo contest
Always remember to "implant an idea" to your client. Follow their desires, give them the shot that they want. Make the idea that comes from them. Then give them your own version.  Show it to them side by side. Giving them choices and variations. Food photography is always about texture. Always focus on the texture. Show those highlights and shadows standout. Those will make the food more interesting and look more 3D-ish.  Mark has a hard time shooting siopao because some siopaos lacks texture and it has no details except for a red dot on top of it (pink for asado). I asked where's the best place to put your light? He answered, its best to put it at the left side of the food.

one of our demo food which is sitting for quite some time. 
This is one of the many dishes photographed at the seminar. Mark asked who wants to volunteer with the food styling and I just raised my hand then said "Me!"  

went to handyman to buy some stuff
We even had a little fieldtrip at the hardware store and CDR-King to buy some stuff for a DIY studio lights. He showed us that it doesnt have to be expensive to make a good continuos light set-up. In less than 500 pesos, we already have a decent lightsource out of ordinary household fixtures and cables.  Then at the end of the day, he raffled all of these stuff to the participants. So nice of him.  

Judging the photos. 

We had a on-the-spot photo contest. The members are grouped into 3's and they were asked to shoot different kinds of dishes. Mark asked 4 members to be the judge. My friend aron told me not to join the contest and be one of  the judges intead. Why not :). Photos were really good but there can only be one. It was a unanimous decision and we picked group number 4 with their amazing shot of the Tamago and sushi rolls. 

Accenture Photography Club
We had our group picture taken at the end of the day. Im so happy to be a part of this workshop. It was actually a whole day event! I was there at 9am and the seminar ended at 8pm. I learned a lot from the seminar and I really appreciate it. Many thanks to Aron for inviting me. I met new friends who has the same passion as I am. It was an honor to be here. 

with THE Mark Floro, an ambassador of light
Of course ! I wont go home without a photo with sir Mark Floro! Like I said, he's the guy that I look up to not only because of his talent but also with his great personality. He is really a down to earth person and he's very easy to talk to. Photography is his passion for quite some time and he really knows what are the ins and outs of the photography business. He teaches advertising photography at Philippine Center for Creative Imaging or simply PCCI in Pasong Tamo. 

some interesting facts : 

  • 600 Million photos are uploaded on facebook everyday
  • Mark Floro has a degree in Political Science
  • You should learn how to talk to a "mayabang" person
  • Sigma is Mark's first camera before using canon
  • According to Mark, the best camera would be a Canon body with a Nikon Lens and with a Sigma sensor .
  • Shoot with One Light.
  • Diether Ocampo took 40+ takes on that "cheese stretch" sequence on a pizza hut commercial
  • Never shoot 50/50 on your food.
  • Minimize the use of photoshop.
  • 100% of the photos in advertising is edited
  • Warm, neutral colors. always.
  • shoot tethered
  • Your food stylist creates your photograph.
  • Draw an imaginary line for your shadows
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Use Selective focusing
  • Lemon, Calamansi on bananas will prolong oxidation
  • An ice cream stylist's talent fee - 9,000 pesos per scoop
  • Add some of the ingredients on your photos but not to many.
  • Implant an idea to your clients.
  • Ask yourself, what are your intentions in shooting this particular subject.  

What a great day for photography. =) Thanks again sir Mark for the knowledge! It was an honor to be part of your workshop. I hope someday I can attend your classes in PCCI. Visit Mark Floro's official website at

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