I have been taking pictures of food for over a decade. I started by investigating camera settings and then slowly learned the process of photography. I have been fortunate to spend time with and learn from some very good photographers – and this has helped me immeasurably in understanding this craft. Although I am no where near expert status or would I ever call myself a photographer, I did develop what I would call my own style of photography – which encompasses the following characteristics:
Deep depth of field
Close to the subject
Highest possible details
My setup is pretty simple (when it comes to this trade) – 2 lights (320 watt with silver lined reflective umbrella, 160 watt white umbrella shoot through); Nikon D610 and a cheap plastic lens (AF Zoom-Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6D N). The most important tool I have come to appreciate is my color checker. Every time I take pictures, my first picture is the color checker. Color accuracy is something I pay a great deal of attention to.
First, before I do anything else, I take a picture of my color checker – and sometimes even two. Every picture I shoot is RAW simple because it gives me editing power, max file size and quality. Its like a RAW carrot vs the pretty, uniformly cut, ready to eat baby carrots from the supermarket. The raw carrot will provide maximum creative freedom vs the boring, uniform, baby carrot – that is going to look the same no matter how you cook it.
My lights and camera are already tuned in, so I am pretty much ready to shoot. Throughout an evening, I take many different pictures of the same plate from multiple angles, really close and also far away. I try to find the very best view by spinning the plate around. I typically take around seven pictures of the same plate!
Once I have the pictures I excitedly rush to my iMac. First, I create a color profile for photoshop (every shoot gets a profile). I open a RAW file of my image and tune it in. There is not much to say about tuning in the image. I really only follow my eye’s suggestions and play with sliders until I am satisfied. Sharpening is very important (I love detailed images), and then comes coloring. I adjust all colors individually and then the luminescence levels. I tend to slightly exceed tolerable vibrancy levels – because my goal, after all, is to introduce appetite and cravings … isn’t that the point? My final step, is to convert the image to a web based profile so it is uniform across all platforms.
Food photography is quite enjoyable, especially when you happen to be working with your own food! It somewhat completes the cycle – from creating dishes, to serving them, to carefully archiving the end result. Also, it is great great tool to market a product and entice people to come and enjoy our food. Printing and framing is another advantage of creating high quality images – although I always seem to find mistakes the more I look at the same images 😬!
If you feel inspired or have a question about my work, I am always happy to help. While I am not an expert, I have received plenty of helpful advice from others. It would be my pleasure to return the favor!