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Photography Question 
Tara R. Swartzendruber
 

Taking pictures of food


I have been asked by a friend to take pictures of her baked goods for a website she is starting. She will call on me from time to time to take the pictures (as she has certain food made- her offerings are seasonal). I have 2 umbrella lights and a white background. Any advice (I do realize these are not "food" lights, but could this work? Should I try natural light? What in the world should I charge for this intermittent type of work? (I live in a very small town, people are not used to paying big city prices). Thanks!


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5/11/2007 3:17:01 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Don't ruin a friendship by charging a lot. Is this a non-profit site? If so, charge very little - whatever your time is worth.

I heard that spraying food with a certain substance (I can't remember what) makes it look nicer for pictures.

So, why don't you try experimenting with some food you have around? What produces nice pictures? A clean surfaces to put the food on with a nice simple background should be nice. If the light in the area is soft and bright, it should do fine.


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5/11/2007 4:40:32 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Let me get this straight Tara: Based on your subsequent question, you're going to use hot lights to shoot food? Quit while you're ahead. Or, maybe you'd like to run some tests and publish the results for things like how long icecream lasts before turning to soup under a hot light, with or without the reflectors. Or, how long a salad takes to wilt under the lights.

Look, food photography is truly an art and specialized craft. Do you know how to photograph a plate so it looks really round instead of distorted? How bout a place setting without making it look elongated. The same is true of produce, eggs, how to make a glass of milk look frosty and real cool, how to make a cup of coffee look hot, and to make both chocolate and vanilla with round cherries or strawberries look perfect and better than real life.

It took me years to learn how to shoot food properly, with strobe not available light, whether it was cracked crab on flowering kale with the pacific ocean behind it or a head of produce made from cases of heads of produce pinned together and set on a gray background or cheesecakes.

It's not what you put on the food to make it look better, it's how to light it, how to shadow it, how to shoot it without distortion, knowing what backgrounds look right with what food product and how to style the shot as well when you're not working with a good stylist.

I suggest, Tara, that you start doing a lot of reading on the subject of product photography AND then expand into food photography, learn how to use strobe lighting effectively and then get some and practice. Tell your friend if she wants to sell the sizzle instead of the steak, or the chocolate instead of the cake, she needs to drop a dime and pay someone who knows how to do this kind of work. If she doesn't she's essentially, IMHO wasting both your time and hers along with her money. Oh, and BTW, pricing this kind of work, no matter where you live is an art too and an essential part of the craft.

Without intending to be harsh, you really ought to learn the business before you start dabbling in it.
Take it light.
Mark


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5/11/2007 5:56:40 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  I've had limited experience with food photography but can offer this advice:

1)..The food items you photograph should be reproduced exactly how they will be be presented. Don't introduce garish accompaniments or exotic garnishes that your friend can't duplicate or it may come to haunt her.

2)..When including props into the composition, remember proper table etiquette...(i.e., fork to the left, knife and spoon to the right, etc.)
These details may seem trite but someone always seems willing to come along and point them out when they're wrong.

3)..Your setup and lighting seems adequate...but shoot fast before the food dries out.
(This can happen very quickly.)

Bob


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5/11/2007 6:10:16 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Bob !! I just took a look at your new gallery. I like your stuff alot !!! Very nice work and nicely arranged. Thanks for sharing it!
Mark


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5/11/2007 7:14:52 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Bob !! I just took a look at your new gallery. I like your stuff alot !!! Very nice work and nicely arranged. Thanks for sharing it!
Mark


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5/11/2007 7:15:13 PM

 
Bob Cournoyer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2003
Contact Bob
Bob's Gallery
bobslens.com
  www.betterphoto.com/gallery/gallery.asp?memberID=61793&pageID=1&rows=30&style=


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5/11/2007 7:20:45 PM

 
Tara R. Swartzendruber   Thanks for the advice. Mark, I am not looking to offend those who actually know HOW to take pix of food! I am only trying to do what I can to help out a friend. she sells mostly fancy decorated cookies. I was hoping we could set things up, turn on the lights and try to get some decent pix so she can put these on a website. I doubt there is an actual food photographer within a few hours of where we live. I've already told her that this is a craft I am not into, nor do I really want to be, but I am willing to see what can be done with what I have. Are you willing to share tips on "how to make a plate look round" or how to make milk look cool? If we can't make it work decently, she'll have to keep looking, but I thought we might as well try.


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5/12/2007 7:56:02 AM

 
Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/2/2004
  Tara:

The web link that Bob Cournoyer provided has some great food images all done with natural light. Check it out -- looks like that might give you some pointers and ideas. Good pick Bob!

Ray


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5/12/2007 8:50:26 AM

 
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