Monday, 7 April 2014

F is for Food

If you follow me on Twitter (@NevAHAddict), you'll know that I post a fair few pictures of food - usually quite bad ones taken on my phone or iPad but one of the areas of photography that I'm really interested in is food and food styling. I've done a few images over the years for my stock portfolio and some even sell quite well but one of my goals for this year is to get my photography blog going again.

With my limited space to set up a studio area for larger projects, food and flower photos an ideal subjects but with very different skills required. I've done a lot of flower photography in the past - I love the variety of shapes and textures they bring as well as colours of course. Unfortunately, flower photos are over-represented in the microstock world as they are often the first subject new photographers try their skill with. Flowers don't move or run away when you try to photograph them (unless you're outside and it's windy of course!) so they make perfect subjects.

I actually taught myself about shutter speeds, apertures and depth of field with just a single flower. I spent an afternoon shooting the same flower from hundreds of different angles with varying settings. As it was my first digital camera with adjustable settings, I could take 50 shots then load them onto the computer and examine them on a large screen. Each digital file also saves the camera settings in the EXIF data so I could see what the changes in settings were doing to the final image.

Food on the other hand is much harder to get right. If it's cooked food, you have to know how to cook it just right and you have to shoot it before it cools too much. Lukewarm food rarely looks attractive even to the naked eye but to a camera in close up, it looks even worse!

One of the people I met over on the istock forums many years ago is now a successful food photographer and also an author. When I stumbled over her Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots book, I recognised the name and went to Amazon to have a peek at it. Needless to say, I ended up buying it and when it arrived a few days later, I devoured it in a few hours.

I haven't had a chance to really test out her suggestions and tips yet - I have a lot of boxes to clear out & move before I get my table top studio set up and until now, I haven't been well enough to tackle them. I'm getting there though so I have high hopes to start producing some new images very soon.

I can already tell that I'll be replacing my boxes of stuff from my old life with boxes of props and backgrounds though - so that's another reason to de-clutter before I get started! I know the contents of this photo are in a box here somewhere - just a collection of bits I bought on one trip to a boot sale on a Sunday morning!

With the warmer weather coming, I'll be scouting secondhand shops, charity shops and boot sales on a regular basis but I need to have some ideas for settings before I just buy random stuff otherwise I'll be overflowing with props before I know it! I also need to learn to cook some more unusual recipes - most of my current cooking is very much stews, casseroles and stir fries - none of which are very photogenic!

I also have to stop myself buying cookbooks just to drool over the pictures! My Mum is already saving magazine pages for me for ideas and I have a nice collection of bookmarks on my PC. Am I prepping too much and not actually getting it done? Yeah maybe but that's an F word for a different post - focus is not my strongest attribute but I'm working on that too!

PS All images in this post are mine - Arty Allsorts was the name I used on my Etsy shop and for Flickr :)


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  1. Those strawberries look delicious! I have read before that photographers tend to do crazy things to food to get it to photograph well--spraying strange substances, etc. So most of it isn't edible?

    1. That's true! Often chicken with skin on is undercooked so the skin doesn't wrinkle as it cools & is 'painted' with something to brown it. I think that is more the top end food stylist type tricks though - for me, it's getting the best pic of what's in front of me!

  2. Interesting. Very tasty topic. Your pics look real as opposed to the pics of fast food...juicy burgers that exist only in the imagination. Those strawberries....mmmm.

    1. Those juicy burgers do exist, just not in a real fast food place! How they can use chef made, artisan burgers to advertise their cheap & nasty fast food version is beyond me!

      And yes, those strawberries were yummy! :)