Everybody’s doin’ it. You’ve seen it all over social media. C’mon. Admit it. You’ve done it yourself. I’m talking about the now all-too-common practice of diners uploading photos of their just-served dish. It was cool at first. But now … not so hot. Especially when it has degenerated to the point that pile of mush plopped into a paper-lined plastic basket is celebrated on Facebook as a work of Renaissance art.
Let’s face it. Food photography is a little more complicated. Yes, you can still post your cell-phone capture of the three-bean vegan taco you had at the brewpub on Tuesday, but I doubt the proprietor will be paying you to use it in a print or online ad run. If she does, she won’t be in business much longer.
Food photography – when done properly – is hard. Patiently. Logistically. Technically. The prep, setup and shooting time for this image totaled about six hours. And that’s with rushing through it once the ice cream hits the set and starts melting.
With a disappearing subject, I had to set everything first with empty dishes where the ice cream would be – it had to be the last thing to placed. Even so, like every other session, it’s an organic process. Shoot, rearrange, shoot some more, re-rearrange, adjust the lighting, shoot more … you get the picture. All within an unpredictable time window.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked doing it. But it’s not like shooting a wedding or a high schooler’s senior portraits. Food is a totally different animal. And harder to capture.
We ran through I don’t know how many different placement scenarios with this shirt-jacket combo. Lighting through a cucoloris – really just a flat wooden board or mat board with cutouts placed in front of the light source – provides some texture and interest to the shot.
Good product photography takes time. And patience. And an attitude of exploration to see how small tweaks can improve the image – and thus, the appeal of the product.