We all love to have a great meal, right? But have you ever really thought about the process of dining? It’s an experience – one that starts before you even enter the dining room. Your nose wakes up to the smells coming from the kitchen. As you look around the room, you see the nice tableware, maybe some candles burning, shiny silverware, polished crystal, and placed in front of you is a clean white plate, all ready for food.
Out comes the first course, a single serving, a perfectly proportioned appetizer. It’s just a tiny little bite, but as you look you can see that there are a bunch of tiny layers all stacked together. Different textures, complementary colors, and everything combined just right looking fresh and clean. It’s right from the kitchen and you can even hear a little sizzle coming from somewhere on the plate.
Lets stop for a second, and think about what just happened. Of your five senses, you have just used more than half – smell, hearing, and sight – and you haven’t even tasted anything yet.
And, Just before it left the kitchen I was ready with my camera, and intercepted the plate as it left the chef’s hand, and began it’s journey to you. I had to work fast, because if I took too long, the crisp layers would look soggy, it would cool down, and not be nearly as appetizing.
The way I like to photograph food is not the standard way magazines do it. Most of the pics of food in the magazines are over done – stylized to a point beyond food – no longer edible. I work fast, and keep it simple, letting the food take center stage, the way it should be.
While the chef was preparing the meal, I spent a few minutes looking around for some good light. Of course most professional kitchens are kind of dark, so I’m looking for a spot just a bit brighter than everywhere else. It goes without saying that I love the soft natural glow that comes from an outside window, but have use light reflected off of a white wall, or even a flash bounced off a stainless steel refrigerator.
Just after the chef put the final touches on the dish, I detour the waitstaff with the plate, to my pre-determined “location”, and take a quick look for the best angle. As I’m looking at the plate, I’m looking for a little bit of everything – all the different elements of the food and whatever other decoration that might be there. That’s the side I’ll point my camera at.
Although I have one, You don’t really need a fancy camera – once you find the light, and the angle, the rest is just pushing a button. I like to get physically close to the food, instead of zooming in. It makes a small but noticeable difference in the final camera settings. You can see some more examples on my wedding photography site, too.
As for the camera I use a professional Nikon body, and my favorite 50mm lens the f1.8 (about $100). I’ve got more expensive lenses, and they do take better pictures, but for most work this is good enough. Technically, I expose for the shadows, and make sure that my shutter speed is fast enough so there is no camera blur. I also shoot “wide open”, making sure that the f-stop is set at 1.8.
Now that you are hungry give Royal Fig a call, and treat yourself to a little something special.