Health & Food Demo

10 Tips For Shooting Food & Booze

AHMAD Food Picures 94

1) Find complementary background tones

food-restaurant-hand-dinnerThis was pretty much the first food photograph I ever shot. I went to a bar, the bartender whipped up four cocktails, and I got to work. I figured the cool tones in the background (and the white out-of-focus streak) brought attention to the style of the drink.

2) Know when to keep it simple


When the plate and ingredients aren’t complicated, think about how you can isolate the subject. I often prefer to place the dish near the edge of the table so that I can get more depth of field in the background. I also chose a drab background to highlight the colour of the peppers in the dish.

3) Always keep textures and lines in mind


Photographing food on a wooden table is simply cheating. Everything looks more rustic and authentic even on a bench. If the food is kind of simple and handmade, it should go well against the grains of old wood.

4) Use natural contrast to your advantage

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Here strong shadows help make the background a little more interesting, and also the difference in colour makes the whisky pop out. I wanted some sparkle in the highlights of the whisky so it catches the eye.

5) Even an ultra-wide zoom can be useful.

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I remember for this shot I had to stand precariously on a rail and kind of guess where my viewfinder was aiming. Now with live view LCDs that can pivot, I imagine it would be much easier. Since I was using an ultra-wide I had to straighten out the distortion later on in post-production. Without that lens though, it would have been extremely difficult to get the whole table.

6) Every detail in the photo matters


This picture was supposed to show a tea cocktail that I made. I placed all the relevant spirits and tea in the background, and made sure they were all reddish.

Note: In this case, I should have increased the depth of field so people actually know what ingredients were used.

7) Think of your focal plane


There is a lot going on here, with tons of different aspects of the dish. I used f/3.5 here so that there would just be a tiny bit more in focus. The lens was slanted, facing down, so that all the food across the board was in focus but the garnishings weren’t.

8) What’s the weather like?


My favourite time to shoot food is during the late afternoon, in overcast weather. Like portraits, soft white light is most flattering for food. A dirty window is a perfect diffuser, so if you are sitting next to one, move it closer to the edge of your table.

9) Take advantage of your plate


Plates can be fun, plates can be dull. I took advantage of this simple white dish by having my colleague hold it up almost vertically, so that the light outside would brighten up the plate like a studio lamp. It’s a miracle the food didn’t fall off.

10) Always keep colour in your thoughts


Château d’Yquem is one of the greatest wines in the world, and once some genius from a public relations firm thought it would be a good idea to send me to Macau and drink free-flow the whole night with the owner of the estate.

To whoever decided that, I thank you.

Sometime during the evening before I got too sloshed I figured it would be a good idea to illuminate the bottle to show off this ambrosial nectar of the gods. It shone brightly, briefly, before disappearing down my gullet.

Written by

My name is Randy Patterson, and I’m currently looking for a job in youth services. I have 10 years of experience working with youth agencies. I have a bachelor’s degree in outdoor education. I raise money, train leaders, and organize units. I have raised over $100,000 each of the last six years. I consider myself a good public speaker, and I have a good sense of humor.

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