Saturday, January 8, 2011

Crush on Food Photography :::Tips #1:::

Good morning. I began today with a mental checklist, ticking the boxes to my previously posted MUST-DO list. I added some items to my list beginning with this post to share my progress with you.
I am surprised at how little I photograph my favorite subjects. With food being one of them and something we consume each day, it seems that it would find its way in front of my camera on a regular basis. But, it doesn't. Thanks to my list, I have been paying attention. Typically, when I am preparing food, it's either dark outside or is coming out of a box. Neither of which make for fabulous food photos and explains my lack of opportunities. I will have to make a conscious effort to make this goal happen.

My favorite type of food photos are a combination of people involved with the food and pretty details of the delectables, like this composite from our Christmas Baking Day.

The holiday ham leftovers were to become delicious ham and bean soup. These photos don't do it justice. Typically, I wouldn't want to share images that I didn't think were up to par but they are the perfect opportunity to share some tips with you before our next photo challenge launches.

Food photography is much harder than one would think. As you can see from the soup image below, it's easy to make it look unappetizing. It was night time and the only light was from the stove light above and a dull, overhead kitchen lamp. I was alone with no tri-pod handy. The image to the right was me trying to get an action shot while stirring the pot and photographing the steaming hot aromas. FAIL. I can't see the steam. The ham looks gelatinous and the green onions have seen a better day. Odd composition and where is the action hand stirring the wooden spoon? Covered in mess! The photo needs to make you want to get in the car, get the ingredients, and get cookin'! This does not achieve the desired effect.

Often when food is photographed, it is not intended to actually eat, therefore food is not prepared for a photography session the same way it would be if prepared for a dining guest. I know this, but have only photographed food that was going to be eaten. Even for restaurants, I was given "as-is-to-the-dining-guest" food to photograph. A dressed salad often looks sad and soggy. The dressings often look like non-consumable liquids. Meats are tough to photograph. Fats and grease bead up on the plate making a hamburger look less enjoyable.  Check out that charred, greasy hamburger from a 1960s food advertisement. Yuck and no- I do not like it.

ham and bean soup
The problems with this shot --the green fabric gives an unappetizing color to the shot. I was going for rustic with the cassoulet style bowl and wooden background but it just doesn't work. Overkill on the croutons. Where is the soup? FAIL.  The other photograph is getting there. I would have loved this color if it involved people. I think they would have added to the mood I was trying to achieve. A hot bowl of hearty soup after a day of skiing. I need to re-do this shot in a west shore Lake Tahoe cabin. We need to add some hod toddies and maybe...just maybe...we'd have a photo spread.

Canned Food vs Fresh. I wanted to photograph what I actually used in the soup. But as you can see, I didn't take the time to find the most perfect shaped, unsquished beans to be on top. I should have. I like these images, but I am drawn to the "mushiness" of the bean instead of its beautiful shape and subtle color. Food photography is all about the details.

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