"I am not a glutton - I am an explorer of food"
My other job apart from Engineering is a part-time photographer for my wife's food blog Bake For the Border. I say part-time as sometimes it is my photos, other times her photos from her iPhone and sometimes a mix of the two.
How hard can it be? Bloody hard to tell the truth. One that has me shuddering whenever I head the words "will you take some photos for my blog". Food photography is definitely an art form in its self. A steep learning curve but one I will struggle on with and hope to get on top of.
Lighting, backdrop, styling, and the food all need to be spot on perfect to get the shot otherwise it ends up looking like an ordinary shot of your dinner.
The lighting in our kitchen isn't great with multiple ceiling spot lights spraying light and shadows in all directions so I encourage my wife to cook during the day to use the plentiful natural light in my kitchen. Failing that I turn to my speedlight with some mixed results. I will use a little bounce fill reflection using a 5-in-1 reflector but more frequently I pull the cover off the 5-in1 and use the diffusion material to soften the light.
Next up in my troubles is back drop. My kitchen seems to be cluttered with radiators, windows or other items which makes it very difficult to get a clear piece of wall to act as a backdrop. I could shoot straight down on the food, but that can look flat and boring at times. We have a white granite work surface which looks great in real life, but absolutely terrible in photos. To get around this I have constructed all sorts of backdrops using what ever material I have to hand from mounting board to wallpaper 'samples' or timber boards. I have tried shooting on my natural wood kitchen table but the shots just don't have the right feel to them.
This is where the styling comes in. I've read the book, bought some props, watched the Kelby Training class, but still have not mastered this art. Dummy food, fake food, props are all used by the Pro's in their shots. I need to take the same approach to this problem as when I started out on landscapes.
Sit down at the computer for a few hours and pour over food photographs. Mentally note down everything what I like and dislike in every shot and then copy the recipe for the shots you like - what is the angle of the shot? is the full dish in the frame or just some detail? what is the depth of field? what surfaces are the photos shot on? what is the background? where is the light coming from? All this and are we are not even at the food yet!
This is where my food blogging wife comes in - Adrienne is the chef and stylist of the food. We often disagree on styling, sometime agree but never yet fallen out. Many times this has led to a hand appearing in the frame trying to rearrange cutlery, napkins or any other props as I am trying to capture the photo!