Professional Food Photography Technique
Professional Food Photography Technique
Professional Food Photography. Hello today we’re gon na talk about what all went into creating this shot in front of you. Here it’s a shot. I did for a local grocery store chain. I’Ve been doing a lot for those guys over a long period of time and they’re a great client, because they have some fun projects and they allow a lot of flexibility when we do it. So this was the end shot. So let’s go back and we’ll start with where we started okay, this was the first shot. We did.
That was a still photo The we did a lot of composing while we’re in Live View, and I don’t have record of that because it was live and it wasn’t recording. But this is kind of where we started out. We knew that the main elements were going to be the ribs, and this is going to be vegetables over here and the product over here, and the two sauces from these two bottles will go over there and we knew we wanted some kind of scallions or whatever.
In the back, so here we go, this is the process. Okay, and you can tell by this outline along the outside here. This is the shot and you can read a very little thin line here. That shows me. This is a two-page spread like this will be one page. This will be the other, and I know there’s some copy that’ll go in here, somewhere recipe or whatever so they’re really flexible about that which is really nice. So we have, you know,
The whole idea is: we’ve got to fit this together, like a puzzle and we’ll go from there. Okay, so, okay, right now we’re sort of just working composition, figuring out what we’re gon na do. We actually wanted a black one of these things and at the last minute, like somebody forgot to bring it or they thought they had it and they didn’t or whatever. So this is working out pretty. Well, though, I think the tones are working pretty well, okay, you can read. This is just I have the light coming from the left. You can tell by this hard highlight right here and this Sheen right down here, and this is probably in shadow of the light
I’M not even sure why I started out that way, but what I did was we were working in composition with scooted things over. I kind of like the way this thing was in here, and this is, you know, we’re pretty overall, pretty good. You know they say: ice cream is the hardest thing to shoot and pizza sort of second, if a pizza pull, but I’ve always struggled with sauces, and I finally come up with the solution for that, and this is all stand-in food by the way if it lives It lives, if not I mean, then it’s just stand-in. If it’s you know, if it lives, it could be hero, and I think that’s what we did with these vegetables here. You know she started adding those and we, you know we could keep them if necessary.
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So right now, some of the deficiencies that I read here. Okay, this is the first one of the first shots where you can read where I changed the light direction. So I came in you can read how everything here is a lot hotter, there’s an edge here. There’S an edge here I mean that’s too much.
I mean this looks beautiful here, but you know I have lights on, so I can read what I’m doing compositionally, but at the same time I know what’s going on so okay there we are tweaking the light and the composition here now a lots going to depend On how these particular shrimp are laid outs, they’re sort of the hero here this and this is the hero, so this is going to be out of focus.
As you can read, we’ve got a little bit soft back there and I started turning off fill lights. I mean I only had one light on. I wanted to read what that would do and that’s that’s really important in food photography. You want to light with one light at a time, because that’s the only way you can read what’s going on, if you light two or three lights at one time, you really can’t tell effectively what’s affecting what so it’s it’s always good to use one light at A time okay – and this is a light little bit lower and you can read that’s looking pretty interesting.
The idea is here, we’re creating this shape is pretty nice. This is probably not enough texture. This is not enough texture, but there’s a lot. It’S kind of cool there. Okay, just for fun, I threw a mirror on the on the ribs here. The thing about sauce is, if you put too much light on it too many lights, you get a gazelle little specular and it doesn’t look good. You kind of need a combination between specular x’ and like a glaze over it, like a big soft highlight, which is what I use my glare light for.
You hear me talk about my glare light all the time, and I guess one of these times I’ll have to just show you how I use that glare light, but for now you’re stuck with this here. One of the things I knew I was experimenting. I was coming in with the light from the left. This time I had a mirror just zapping that so there’s a light coming in this. This way my main light, and then I threw a mirror across here with using this light, I can kind of light.
One thing at a time and that’s what I’ve chosen to do. I knew the sauce is gon na, be a pain on my butt, so I started experimenting with the pain there and like was trying – and I liked this is too flat to me – that has nice texture that has some nice possibility. So I went with that and I really liked I mean I like the shape of what’s going on here.
This stuff is beautiful. I know with all those like that shape there like light, dark light, dark light dark. I knew that’s gon na, be that’s gon na, be beautiful, no matter what I do so that’s sort of a secondary concern. I knew this was gon na. Be hot here I don’t have to deal with that later, but I don’t think that’s a that! Wasn’T gon na be a big deal, so here I am experimenting with the mirrors on the ribs figured out what I’m gon na do there. Okay, I brought mirrors over to the front items different mirrors.
Okay, I turned on my backlight cuz. I was pretty happy with kind of the textures going there you have to. You have to learn to read this stuff. You have to read what the lights doing and know when you add another light, what that will do like you’re, not for certain what’s gon na do, but you kind of have to guess what’s going on, that’s what I did here. So I wanted to read what was happening on the ribs like you can read. These highlights right here. They were added here and that looks interesting, but it’s it’s a bit much, so I ended up turning it way down. So, okay, here’s two shots ago with nothing. This is too much okay, this nothing! This is a little glare, so we’re getting there, but it’s just not enough.
Now it was like too much too little too much okay. So here I am I’m turning up that light and getting it to where I want it Sort of experimenting around to read what I like read. What I mean you got these specular x’. You got the you, have the harsh light, giving the specular switch.
It’S okay, the specular is okay, but what really makes it is the softer light back here, but you need the specular to give you that that texture there. So that’s that’s! What’S going on there – and Here I am experimenting – keep on experimenting, I’m liking that I’m liking This okay, the vegetables are beautiful. The shrimp aren’t in place yet – and I know that so I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time like right now.
One of the some of the things I read is I don’t like all that negative space there, It kind of works. Okay, this actually works better than it did in the final shot, you’ll read, but there’s all this to deal with, and I like to have things coming in from out of the frame at some point, it just makes it look more complete to Me like you’ve, taken Just a slice out of the photo like out of the table:
I hate when everything ends in the frame that drives me crazy. It’S just one of my pet peeves, okay, So here we go we’re moving this thing around I’m trying to suck up some of that negative space in there. Okay, we’re moving those around okay. Okay, I’m experimenting a couple of things at once here and I can’t really remember what I had.
I think I wanted a little more room where I wanted to move everything up forward a little bit, so we could take advantage of all the cropping okay, we added. We were playing with some napkins there. We knew we knew we needed something back here. You know like behind this, because this vertical here is just too strong without anything breaking it up. So we tried a couple of different things here and the space here was bugging. The hell out of me still bugs me actually so, okay, I was experimenting with fill light there and that’s way too much and I’ll cut that back later, there’s a shot.
I think we’re starting to play with the composition of the shrimp so because we’re pretty close and everything else we have the sauce in here now: okay, we whoa whoa, sorry about that whoops. You know, you’d think I’d learn how to use this. Okay, when, in doubt, do this, okay, we’re back sorry about that. Okay, so the client took this or the clients. Stylist took away the bowl to fill it up, something’s messed up here; okay, hopefully this is gon na be changing on us. Let’S read where we are. We’Re here, okay, this is where we are okay. We brought the hero sauce in that way. That gives me information, it’s sort of probably secondary to the to the glaze, but I know that’ll give me a little bit of interest there too.
So when I have that glare light on there, it’ll really emphasize that too okay, the stylist is starting to play with the shrimp a little bit and we decided one of the things we want to do. Is we wanted to break up this line a little bit with you know, with the shrimp and one of the things about shrimp that I learned a long time ago whenever you have something that has an iconic shape like a shrimp like you know what like, like That right this thing right here, you can’t tell the tech latest this. You can’t tell what it is this you can tell what it is because it has the shape of a shrimp. So when you’re having a pile of stuff, you can’t have them all, be the right shape, and you don’t want that because they look to stage. But what you do is you need a couple of the ones in the front to stand out as the as the as the iconic shapes
Okay, we added limes back there so and then I brought in okay. I was at the same time you can read here. This was before the limes, but read in the back here this gray. Here I was thinking boy. That would be nice if that graduated a little bit so I threw I threw a flag back there to block the glare light from hitting that and I went too far so I took it back a little bit. It’S always good to have graduation life.
I mean just the same tone. It just isn’t right I mean I don’t know it’s just a personal personal choice of mine, okay, so we’re messing around with the shrimp messing around with the composition. This is the area that was really bugging me. I was trying to get this to work to fit in together. Okay, there’s a shot of stylist reaching in. We don’t have the shrimp just quite ready, okay, we’re working on that this one’s almost it’s getting there, but it’s standing out on its own and I think somewhere along the line here.
If you look at this, this is a lot darker than it used to be up here somewhere yeah. I guess it’s a while back. So where are we here? Okay, so they gradually added some okay. We got the shrimp okay, so they’re they’re, increasing the liquid level and we’re playing around with the shrimp like that that doesn’t work there.
This you know this doesn’t work there and it’s pretty obvious. So we keep messing around with that and the idea is okay. Bingo that looks pretty good. This might be a little bit weird, but you know you’re trying to break that background, just because it just it’s too prominent. It’S such a diagonal shot through there. It’S always better to break that up a little bit if you can and we keep playing with that. Okay, we’re adding a little more sauce here. I think it’s interesting. If you read how light this skin is, I mean the light is blasting through there and that’s given us some great shape there, but you really kind of have to be careful about things. Sticking out.
That’S kind of what happened here, but what I did was I put a little dot and finger if you guys know what that is, probably not off to show you that sometime too, but it got in a finger or something you can put between the light and The subject and it cuts the light a little bit. It’S like a it’s like a neutral density, filter, kind of thing, and but it’s you can use it in very small places. Okay, so moving along.
Let’S read what happened here, okay, I’m just trying to tighten up the composition. Sometimes I get too tight. You know, I think that brush there kind of fell into the shot, and I was thinking wow that could that could work out pretty well as a prop. So I spent a couple of shots, and you know this is kind of what happens to me most of the time with the lens that I love most, which is a 80 millimeter tilt shift lens.
It’S my favorite food photography lens. You have to manually push a stop down button and like if you focus that you have to push the button, so it opens it up and then you have to remember to close it again after you’re done, focusing and somehow it got so I mean that’s the Difference between wide open and not wide open, but we were thinking about putting that brush in there and it would just became you know it just didn’t work.
So we tried the spoon in the bowl and it said I think, that’s supportive. You know if you look at that, you know if it jumps out at you. Okay, if this jumps out at you as being like too bright and too dominant it’s it’s. Not it’s! Not there I mean, like you, don’t want to sell the brush you’re selling the food, so you kind of have to isolate that.
Okay, so we decided on this and bring it up playing with the limes playing with the spoon a little bit: Okay notice how this got brighter right behind the spoon area, I mean to me that was going a little bit dark, so I zapped a mirror in There and I thought, okay, that that looks good, but that looks too bright, so I pulled it back. So I and you know I came from such an angle where the shadow was hidden like you can actually read. If you look, you can read a cast shadow right there and you know I think I might have played
I think I might have fixed that I can remember. Oh now we added the scallions, that’s almost like crumbs, so, okay, we’re getting close to the end. Here’S the scallion that I ended up moving at the very last shot and okay, as you can read here, look at this piece of shred. This piece of shrimp is awesome. I mean that, is that says, shrimp, a yell shrimp. So does that one – and you know the rest of these are shrimp just by association. The lighting here is awesome. Got nice light here, glare got shape there. This is looking good. This is a little dead back here, that’s something I usually like. I still don’t love this area here in hindsight, what I should have done after you’ll read the last shot.
You’Ll probably agree, but if I would have just slid this sucker down here, so that it was right in here instead of here, if it was right here, it probably would have worked a lot better, but there’s always hindsight okay, so that was my solution to that Problem I brought the napkin over to take up some of that space, but I still wish I would have brought that that over okay now, I add a little more light to the to the ribs, which I think really helped – and I was getting this weird highlight Here in this mushroom – and this is at this point – everything’s hero food – so there’s a couple – things bother me this haidle. This was bothering me. This was bothering me
This was bothering me read how that ends right at the edge of that it shouldn’t It should either overlap it or it should underlap it. You know I mean so it was kind of bugging the heck out of me So in at this point, we’re getting to the you know: we’re ready to we’re almost there we’re almost there okay.
So we moved the mushroom okay poked up a couple little things, and this is one of the things I didn’t catch, But the stylist saw this tangent going here again, just like this kind of stuff. It should really overlap if possible. You know sometimes it just slides by you, especially when you’re getting near the end of the shot, but okay, so here we go get the sauce going. Okay, the lemon lime in the back read how I added a mirror to that. I think I went a little too much on it got a little glisten back. There changed the angle a little bit. Okay. What did i do there? Hell, I’m messing around with the little scale you anything. Okay, so read.
We We brought the shrimp up there just to kind of break that surface. This is nested so nicely in here, but I almost wish we could have broken this around here somewhere too, but you know, that’s that’s you know, that’s what happens so I wasn’t quite happy with that space. Still so I’m bringing the the onion new things down so that it kind of takes that up a little more, and I think I got relatively happy with that.
So I toned that back there thinking that might help. So here I am move the bottles a wee. Little bit, okay, we’re getting close, we’re getting close okay through a little bit of more light in there just to kind of brighten things up on that edge. I don’t know in hindsight if that was a good thing, a bad thing: okay, shot something with a little more phyllis village, okay, okay, so we think we pretty much have it at this point and the stylist says: okay, let’s, let’s add some of the sauce that We’Re trying to sell we’ll put it on the on the product and we’ll read kind of what it looks like so she’s drizzling away.
This isn’t the shot we would keep. We would do it afterwards, but I just you know I figured for you guys. I’D click, one just to show you her involvement in this. It’S always good to work with a good stylist that could make all the difference in the world. So, okay, you can read some of this stuff dripping over here. It’S gon na make it a little bit Moister a little bit more succulent, it’s okay, we’re getting to the close again. I’M bracketing moving that shrimp tail up to make sure it protrudes through here got a little brighter exposure and then we, what do we do here now? I was experimenting with depth of field
I think cuz look, how bright look, how sharp that is in the back okay, trying to make a little softer okay! Well, one of these you know like when I get to the end of the shot I’ll experiment a little bit. Okay, I’ll, maybe make it a little bit lighter a little bit darker and oh one of the things I did was. I moved this scallion out here. That was just one of the last thing, so you can read right there, it’s jumping on me and we added some more of this particulate stuff here. Oops. Sorry, so you know you add some details. You know you try to make it just a little bit better.
A little bit better, but you know sooner or later, you’re gon na it’ll be diminishing, returns kind of thing where you screw things up more than anything else. So in all, I was pretty happy in hindsight. One of the things I would have done is, I would move this over.
Like I said you know, I might have wrapped this around underneath a little bit more so that this would protrude above it, because this is kind of dominant to me. But overall I’m pretty darn hacked aren’t happy with everything you know these labels a little bit off-center, which is, I think, good. It makes a little more casual by the way. This is totally unreached.
I mean you’re looking at their raw files, so yeah that does it. If you like, what you read here, do me a favor in click the like button down below come back, and I plan on doing a few more of these things. I think these kind of shoots are valuable, not because you can copy what I do or anything, but I think they’re valuable, because you can understand my thought process and if you can kind of read what I do.