Photographing food

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Proud Texan's picture
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We've attempted to style and photograph one of our breakfasts and it turned out just O.K.   The food looks and taste great in person, but it photographs rather flat (and no we're not taking pictures of pancakes!)

I would really like to have a bit of WOW factor associated with the picture.

Any advice on making food look good in a photograph? 

EmptyNest's picture
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05/22/2008

Go to You Tube and look for Jumping Rocks video. They may have suggestions Or check their site. Seems like they had a blog article on photography hints.

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 I just saw this and it made me laugh. The food photographer shows you what his staging area is really about, it is kinda of odd, but you will appreciate it.

White Chocolate Chunk Coconut & gaining a new perspective 

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Sanctuary's picture
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Ahhh, 20 miles that way.  I remember Woodstock.  I remember 575 too.  Heck, I remember when I-75 through Atlanta was 2 lanes and had a grass median, I-285 didn't exist, and parts of 75 didn't exist - had to use US 41.  I was a kid then, but I remember.  LOL  I don't miss that traffic!

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Sanctuary's picture
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Samster, I see your profile says you're in Georgia.  Where in Georgia?  My family lives there - - ALL of them!  I'm the only "wild oat."  LOL

I made a 4- year or so stop in Atlanta (Lake Lanier) on my way to the British Virgin Islands..not quite there yet, but I'm must a mere 1,200 miles away so far.  I started in Dayton, Ohio, stopped in Atlanta, and am now in Miami for a little while.  My partner in the boat lives in Ball Ground, just north of Atlanta, and has a Hatteras on Lake Lanier.  I occasionally get back there, but not that often.  I hate to leave here, really, even if just for a weekend.

GeorgiaGirl's picture
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Hey, Ball Ground is about 20 miles North of where I live!

Sanctuary's picture
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GeorgiaGirl25 wrote:

Hey, Ball Ground is about 20 miles North of where I live!


Does that make you in Alpharetta or Marietta, or maybe around the Smyrna area?

GeorgiaGirl's picture
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Close...we are in Woodstock.  We live close to 575 on the border of Canton & Holly Springs

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Southwest GA....but we've lived all over the country.  I actually never thought we'd end up in GA.  I have a brother in Cocoa, FL.  He used his inheritance to buy a 22 ft sailboat.  He told me that he's hardly had it out this year!  I put mine in a couple of old houses.  Haha!  You're welcome to stop by any time you're on dry land in the Peach State - we're not far from Hotlanta. 

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Sanctuary's picture
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I think we captured the "sunset martini" pretty well here when we were out at anchor one evening.

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Make it a vodka martini & sign me up

Sanctuary's picture
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Samster wrote:

Make it a vodka martini & sign me up

That IS a vodka martini, not dirty - just a teaspoon of olive juice, if that.  So, come on down!!  The weather is a little cruddy right now, though.

And I make a mean mojito, even the Cubans admire.   Laughing out loud  I grow my own mint when I can.

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You're on my list if I ever have any spare change.  haha!    I was actually born in Miami & I have an aunt who lives there.  My son's the mojito maker here.  Hey...I forgot that's a good use of the mint I have here.  Hmmm.....

seashanty's picture
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hj where did you find that website?  that is a riot! so horrible looking, unbelievable!  and funny.  truly a LOL!!!

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I can't remember how I found it, probably a link from somebody's food blog. I was in tears before I made it half way through!

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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Remember a while back - a couple years ago someone posted a photo of a southern meal.  It may have had to do with the BBQ discussion.  On the plate were hush puppies and those not familiar with them were gagging! 

Wait! I found the exact winning bbq plate.  I am positive this was it.

24th Annual NC Championship BBQ Cookoff

It's Got to Be NC Barbecue! We're proud to host the 2008 N.C. State Barbecue Cooking Championship on Friday and Saturday. Teams from across the state will gather and begin cooking Friday night and the judging will be Saturday in the competition sponsored by the N.C. Pork Council. Eastern or Western?
Let the best Q win!

 

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For a good chuckle and to see what not to do when it comes to food styling, check out this little gem of culinary history:

http://www.candyboots.com/wwcards.html

Fine examples of how terribly, inadvertently, wrong things can go when food and camera meet. Definitely read the commentary on all the cards, and don't miss the page titles, either.

Warning: some of the commentary contains coarse language.

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My eyes are still leaking.  Oh my...I wonder if anyone ever made that stuff on those recipe cards.  Gag!

EmptyNest's picture
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I can't get into this site!

Morticia's picture
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Holy mackerel! OK, as soon as I can see again, I am laughing so hard, I may be able to relate some stories about friends who actually MADE these recipes. Just not yet, tho, hubs has come to see why I'm lying on the floor holding my sides...

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IronGate's picture
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Bree wrote:

Holy mackerel! OK, as soon as I can see again, I am laughing so hard, I may be able to relate some stories about friends who actually MADE these recipes. Just not yet, tho, hubs has come to see why I'm lying on the floor holding my sides...

Best reply of the day. 

Throughout my daughter's soccer game, I kept breaking out in laughter.  The other parents didn't think there was anything funny happening . . . .

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Morticia's picture
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I generally photograph right next to the window, so lots of good natural light. You definitely need the garnishes. I get the whole table set up exactly the way I want it and then I make the food. It doesn't have to be edible to photograph it. The longer it sits the worse it looks so be sure you are ready to shoot.

You can use hairspray to give it a glossy look.

I stand on a chair to photograph downward, I think I get a better look that way, than trying to take the shots from the side. I'll tke 20 or so shots and then look at them quickly on the computer to see what looks good and what doesn't. I had a lot of trouble with glare off the silverware, so the advice to turn off the flash is good.

Proud Texan's picture
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Bree wrote:

You can use hairspray to give it a glossy look.

Then you can set the whole thing on fire like Cherries Jubilee!!   m-m-m I could have something there.

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Bree wrote:

I generally photograph right next to the window, so lots of good natural light. You definitely need the garnishes. I get the whole table set up exactly the way I want it and then I make the food. It doesn't have to be edible to photograph it. The longer it sits the worse it looks so be sure you are ready to shoot.

You can use hairspray to give it a glossy look.

I stand on a chair to photograph downward, I think I get a better look that way, than trying to take the shots from the side. I'll tke 20 or so shots and then look at them quickly on the computer to see what looks good and what doesn't. I had a lot of trouble with glare off the silverware, so the advice to turn off the flash is good.

My pet peeve for B&B food shots.  Yes, I have one for that too!

Go to all the trouble of the whole set up then leave the water or juice or coffee empty!  Noone will know it is cold coffee or warm water, just fill em up.  I see so many with a place setting with food there but no drinks.

Someone had a plate that was NOT a show plate (altho of course it actually was) but they had a knife and fork in the process, so it looked like it was edible. I liked that! Can't remember who had that.  The napkin was being used and the plate was in the process of being eaten.

Morticia's picture
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JunieBJones (JBJ) wrote:

Bree wrote:

I generally photograph right next to the window, so lots of good natural light. You definitely need the garnishes. I get the whole table set up exactly the way I want it and then I make the food. It doesn't have to be edible to photograph it. The longer it sits the worse it looks so be sure you are ready to shoot.

You can use hairspray to give it a glossy look.

I stand on a chair to photograph downward, I think I get a better look that way, than trying to take the shots from the side. I'll tke 20 or so shots and then look at them quickly on the computer to see what looks good and what doesn't. I had a lot of trouble with glare off the silverware, so the advice to turn off the flash is good.

My pet peeve for B&B food shots.  Yes, I have one for that too!

Go to all the trouble of the whole set up then leave the water or juice or coffee empty!  Noone will know it is cold coffee or warm water, just fill em up.  I see so many with a place setting with food there but no drinks.

Someone had a plate that was NOT a show plate (altho of course it actually was) but they had a knife and fork in the process, so it looked like it was edible. I liked that! Can't remember who had that.  The napkin was being used and the plate was in the process of being eaten.

I filled the coffee mug & the juice glass! I get a real closeup of the food so not much shows, but you can see there is juice and coffee present. Even in the room photos when I have wine or show a cuppa with some cookies on the nightstand I always fill the cups/glasses.

seashanty's picture
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a few years ago, i watched a program about photography ... white glue instead of milk, inedible food because meat was raw/rare to photograph well, little sticks and plastic pieces to hold things up inside and from behind.  the 'trick' (or might i say talent) if you do it yourself, is not to think of the food as something you are going to eat ... but to see it from behind the camera .... and how does it look?

your website pics look great to me, by the way.

Proud Texan's picture
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seashanty wrote:

a few years ago, i watched a program about photography ... white glue instead of milk, inedible food because meat was raw/rare to photograph well, little sticks and plastic pieces to hold things up inside and from behind.  the 'trick' (or might i say talent) if you do it yourself, is not to think of the food as something you are going to eat ... but to see it from behind the camera .... and how does it look?

your website pics look great to me, by the way.

That's extremely nice of you to say, because I was inspired by the shots on your site to do something in the first place.

EmptyNest's picture
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05/22/2008

HIre a professional is the ONLY way to getting a really professional looking photo. Sorry that is just the way it is...unless you have all the backlighting, lights etc etc.  You can come up with probably an ok shot if you follow some of the ideas here.  check out this site OR this one

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I agree...make sure that you have plenty of color on the plates.  Garnish is the magic word.  One of our inn mates here noticed the ice in the water in our photos & also some steam from a coffee cup.  I have no clue how I managed to capture that.  Also, try different angles and don't be afraid to bring your camera down to table level rather than shooting from above.  I personally think those are more interesting.  Like this picture from my friend's web site in your State Smiling

swirt's picture
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05/17/2008

Don't cook the food to the point where it looks right to eat.   Under cook it by quite a bit (especially sausage and ham and bacon).  Part of the problem is that film and digital methods don't do a good job with browns.  They accentuate other colors but shades of brown just don't pop.  Avoid photographing large surfaces of brown, break it up with colors that pop.  Example, taking a photo of three staggered pieces of french toast will not look as good as the same stack with several slices of vibrant strawberries on top (hiding a lot of the brown). 

You need lots of light from several angles to avoid harsh shadows and you usually have to disable your flash (too many reflections from the silverwhere and glasses).   A tripod is handy for this..

 

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