What is "perfect lighting?" It will differ for every style of photography and every photographer's style. For my food photography, I think the perfect lighting is the soft, beautiful, natural light found from a large window with indirect sun coming through. Unfortunately, most of the locations where I have to go and shoot food don't have this light that I am looking for. In order to get the shoot done, I have to to create the light. What if I could create this "perfect light" and have it for every assignment?
Taylor Mathis Photography Tutorials
Friends of Fstoppers
About Taylor Mathis
Popular Articles from Taylor Mathis
You don't need to have the most expensive gear to make the best pictures. It is very easy to get swept up in the attitude of " if I only had this I could take better pictures." You do not need $10,000, or $1,000, or even $100 worth of lighting gear to make a great picture using artificial light. What if I told you that you could take a beautiful picture of food with a $10 light, a picture frame, a T-shirt, velcro, and cut up foam board?
Do you use a sweep in your portrait or large product photography? Sure a roll of paper several yards in length is necessary for photographing people and large products, but what about food and small products? Walking into a bakery or the back of a kitchen with two C stands and a large roll of paper is not going to work in the often small kitchen shooting environments.
What is the best lens? If you shoot wildlife, a long zoom lens will bring you close to the action but allow you to keep your distance so as not to startle your subject. If you shoot architecture, a tilt shift lens will allow you to make sure all the lines of your room or building are straight. Shooting weddings? You will most likely need a lens that can zoom for a variety of wide and close shots. When photographing food there is only one way to get those close up mouthwatering shots that your clients desire! Allow me to show you how a lens with macro capabilities will change how you shoot food!
Food styling can take place in the production kitchen and in front of the camera. How do you know when and where to style your food? The answer will depend on what food you are shooting. For food with long shelf lives, like cupcakes, the dish will generally be camera ready when it leaves the kitchen. If the dish involves a sauce and a variety of garnishes, the styling will occur both in the kitchen and in front of the camera. Here is a behind the scenes look at a dish that involves styling in both locations: The Meatball Sandwich.
Is there a perfect light for your food photography? In past posts, I have mainly talked about using large lighting modifiers to create a soft light over my subject. I tend to choose softer light, because I think it looks better on my food. Is this the only lighting option? No. Like fashion photography, there are many different types of lighting that you can use on a subject. To get a better understanding of what will fit your style, let's take a closer look at the characteristics of hard and soft light and how they affect your food shot.
There is one lighting modifier that I never leave home without. Its compact size and light-weight build has earned it a permanent place in the outside pocket of my gear bag. I made this modifier about 4 years ago and have brought it to every food shoot since. If you are shooting food, it is a must have and it won't break the bank to make it. What is it you wonder? It is a collapsible Tabletop V Reflector. Let me show you how easy it is to make!
There are many different surfaces that you can shoot your food photography on. You can use a table in your kitchen, a table in a restaurant, the floor, or any other flat surface that you can find. When selecting a surface, the colors, patterns, and textures of the surface will have a great effect on the look and feel of your final image. With the background playing such an important role in your image, there should be some thought put into what you shoot on. The best way to control this is to make your own backgrounds! Let me show you why wooden planks are my favorite surface to shoot on.
Having ambition, creativity, and passion are not enough to make an independent documentary or photo project a reality. To see the movie play or hang the photo project in a gallery you will need money. It is a cruel reality for creatives, but money is needed to make large and ambitious projects happen. So what does one do?
Do you use color theory as inspiration for your photography? If you are ever feeling stuck or are in a rut, I have found the color wheel is a great source of inspiration! There are many different ways to look through a color wheel, but my favorite is using Adobe Kuler. Let me show you how I used it for inspiration.
Food photography will at times take you out of the studio and on location. It may be to a restaurant, a farm, or a bakery. If you have to travel to where the food is, then you will have to think about what background you will shoot on. When shooting at a restaurant, capturing the decor and ambiance of the dining room with the dish is preferred by the client. Capturing the tables, walls, or any other distinctive features of the restaurant in the background will enhance your image of the dish. When shooting a food product, the ambiance might not be there. What do you do if all you have are grey walls and a metal counter top?
You probably know by now that natural light from a window will create beautiful images. This free and readily available light source is my first go-to when shooting food and portraits. It yields beautiful results, but has a downside. It can change on you throughout a shoot. In order to achieve the look you are after, it is best to understand your options and find the best natural light source for you!
From national magazines to local papers, media outlets of all sizes like to cover restaurants. If you are a photographer who shoots editorial assignments, there is a good chance that you have been assigned to cover a dish at a restaurant. Over the last couple of years, I have photographed hundreds of dishes at restaurants ranging from white table cloth fine dining establishments to hole in the wall hidden treasures. Here are some tips that might help you with shooting a dish for an editorial client.
Have you had trouble taking pictures inside a kitchen? Don't worry you are in good company. Architects generally don’t think of photographers when designing a kitchen space. The line of a busy restaurant isn't the best place to take pictures. Tight corners combined with a mess of tungsten and fluorescent lights shining from a multitude of directions make it very difficult to create mouthwatering images.
There are certain stores that I can walk into leave with a full shopping cart and wonder, "Where did the last hour and a half go?" This is what happens when I make a trip to my local hardware store. If you are interested in photographing still life, food, or any other table top project, the hardware store is full of inspiration. Let me show an aisle that is filled with amazing ready to go backgrounds.