The Big Food Photography Blog
Feb 26, 2013

Food Photography

This blog explains a little bit of our approach towards food photography, as well as 3 ‘case studies’ of photography commissions from the last few months. You can view our food portfolio by clicking the big green button above, but this blog is a great opportunity for us to show off some of the shots that don’t make the portfolio but work fantastically well in context with the series of images.

Food photography is an area of photography we are really enthusiastic about. It’s not something we jumped into prematurely however, we are product photography specialists and although this takes a lot of skill and knowledge in the studio, the one thing you often have is time. With food however (more often than not), you have a very limited time frame to get that all important shot. For example we’ve recently shot a new menu for a catering company, including some particularly delicate desserts, containing ice cream and chocolate – things that melt quickly under hot lighting – so if we don’t get the shot, it’s gone!

With this in mind and a whole host of different food shoots under our belt, here is our big food blog where we’ll be sharing details of shoots and of course lots of great pictures!

1. Beales Gourmet

So let’s start with that aforementioned catering company, Beales Gourmet who’re based in the Italian villa at Poole’s Compton Acres. They provide excellent quality modern gourmet food for events and specialise in weddings. So working closely with agency BH Creative we were tasked with shooting their brand new menu from the brand new head chef Maciek Kijewski.

We were given creative direction and shown previous photographs that the company had used on their website, and on brochures and exhibition displays. So with a feel of what they wanted we had a think about what we wanted to achieve for them, it was immediately decided that we wanted to shoot as the food would appear to anyone eating it – on a nicely set up table in the Italian Villa – but we also wanted to keep the shots tight on the food, clean with not too much happening in the background. Above all these sometimes fantastical dishes should look appetizing and exciting!

One main concern was keeping the table cloth and plates looking clean and white, which is something we kept in mind during the shoot but also dealt with in post processing to keep the shots consistent. It’s important that after a shoot like this the images are coherent and look/feel like a set.

So with a table ready to go for service we lit up the set with our daylight balanced hedler continuos lights to compliment the light coming through the windows on the front of the Italian Villa. Creating ourselves a nice ‘pocket’ of light to work in we then supplemented this with an off camera flash gun which we hand held to add punch to the dishes as they were brought out. We shot on our Nikon D800e mainly using our Zeiss 50mm lens but occasionally swapping to our Nikon 105 macro lens to bring out the texture and detail of the food in front of us.

2. 121 Chef

121 Chef is based in Salisbury and are again a catering company. Head chef Martin Packard is highly experienced in corporate and wedding catering and likes to take care of everything for you. When it came to our photo shoot we took a much different approach to that of the Beales shoot. This was much more reportage based, we weren’t waiting for finished dishes to be put down for us to take care of, instead we flood lit the entire kitchen with high powered tungsten lights and shot Martin doing what he does best!

So with a plan in place we were rather systematic with our approach. Martin had 4 things for us to shoot – Beef Wellington, Tart Tatin, Gravalax and a couple of variations of bread – so with the ingredients out in the kitchen we started shooting them to set up the feel for the shoot and the images. Then as Martin began prepping the food we shot him slicing, dicing, peeling, and then cooking. We let him do this as he usually would only pausing him occasionally if we saw a shot we wanted.

As the dishes came out and were completed with Martin’s impeccable timing we shot each dish in different locations around his kitchen to create images with lots of different moods, For example there was a plaited loaf that we put straight back into the prepping area still covered in flour, and the Tart Tatin was plated and put onto a wooden table with some smaller slices around it to create a homely/homemade/family feel.

3. Al Gatto Nero 

Italian restaurant Al Gatto Nero is based on Poole road in Poole and is a Family run business. This time we worked with The Marketing Bureau and needed to get a lot of shots to populate their new website and marketing material. We started with wide interior shots of the restaurant and bar areas, we then moved into the kitchen to capture the chefs doing what they do using the same reportage approach as we utilized with 121 chefs. After this we shot finished dishes on some of the ready-set tables in the restaurant, and then we captured the food being consumed by some hungry extras who were standing by!

As with the other two shoots mentioned here we used continuous lighting, In this case our old Berkey Colortran tungsten lighting which we pointed into the corners of the room to in-directly lighten the restaurant up for our purposes. When it came to shooting the finished dished they got some more directional treatment from our Bowens flash heads to help them stand out and look polished.

If you want to find out more about our food photography or how we can bring your food to life for the web, you can do three things, check out our Food portfolio here, email us at hello@dephotographic.com or give us a call 01202 280157.