Food pho­tog­ra­phy

Gulf Photo Plus’s ex­pert shares his tips

Good (UAE) - - CONTENTS - alserkal av­enue, al Quoz, dubai, daily 10am to 7pm. tel: (04) 3808545. taxi: alserkal av­enue. gulf­pho­to­plus.com

How does be­ing a food pho­tog­ra­pher af­fect your daily rou­tine?

I used to be a night owl years ago, but these days I get up at 4am. I shoot in nat­u­ral light, so I need that ex­tra time to get to the stu­dio, get set up and take ad­van­tage of ev­ery minute of sun­light. I love this time of day – it’s so quiet, no one’s awake, I get to read, I have a good hour or two be­fore go­ing to the gym. I’m a lot more pro­duc­tive get­ting up early than stay­ing up late. You can get so much done be­fore the world starts.

Can you tell us a bit about what to ex­pect at your work­shop with GPP this year?

It’s go­ing to be a lot of fun. Food is a topic that brings ev­ery­one to­gether, eat­ing is some­thing we all do, so it’s a more in­ti­mate a topic than shoot­ing a prod­uct or a fancy car. What draws peo­ple to food and food pho­tog­ra­phy is a love of it, an in­ter­est and a cu­rios­ity. The work­shops will be a great op­por­tu­nity to see what it takes to get food from the kitchen to the plate to the cam­era. There’ll be a food stylist there and a chef plat­ing things up for the cam­era, so the stu­dents will learn about what goes on be­hind the scenes, as well as the tech­ni­cal side of things. Food has its own prop­er­ties, time lim­its and specifics of how it needs to be shot, and we’re go­ing to cover it all.

Are your work­shops aimed at any­one in par­tic­u­lar?

It’s for ev­ery­one with an in­ter­est in food pho­tog­ra­phy, for ex­am­ple, food blog­gers. I started a food blog my­self in 2005 to show­case my work, and I al­ways like to meet other blog­gers. What I’ve no­ticed in work­shops is that I’m also meet­ing a lot of recipe writ­ers who want to learn how to pho­to­graph and sub­mit images along with the recipes they write. I also work with a lot of chefs from smaller restau­rants who might not have a big mar­ket­ing de­part­ment and need to do their own pho­tog­ra­phy, and I’ve taught bar­tenders and gen­eral man­agers too – ba­si­cally any­one who needs to cap­ture their own food and drink im­agery.

Do you need a cer­tain level of ex­pe­ri­ence or is the class suit­able for begin­ners?

It’s a bit of both – you never have an equal level of knowl­edge in any work­shop. The prin­ci­ples of shoot­ing food are more about the the­ory than the prac­tice some­times, so I can be as ba­sic or as in depth as needed. My main fo­cus will be on cam­era pho­tog­ra­phy, but I’ll teach a few things on smart­phone pho­tog­ra­phy too.

What are the big­gest mis­takes that peo­ple make when it comes to food pho­tog­ra­phy?

I blame In­sta­gram for this – a big mis­take with food pho­tog­ra­phy is al­ways us­ing that over­head, top down, bird’s eye view for shots. Now ev­ery sin­gle per­son does that, but the mis­take hap­pens when peo­ple don’t get out of that com­fort zone. I en­cour­age peo­ple to think out­side the box, move around with an­gles and not al­ways shoot the same thing. It’s be­come a style on In­sta­gram and I get it, but if peo­ple are re­ally se­ri­ous about food pho­tog­ra­phy, they need to try new things.

What is your favourite thing to shoot in the food pho­tog­ra­phy world?

I love work­ing on cook­books, be­cause you get a chance to slow down and be in one world, on one project. When you’re shoot­ing an ad cam­paign it’s just a cou­ple of days, and the pres­sure’s on, but with a cook­book it’s a more cre­ative in­ter­pre­ta­tion of food, and you can tell a story with your pho­tos. There are longer shoots, it’s open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion, it’s less ex­act, and so I re­ally en­joy those.

What do you think of the mod­ern phe­nom­e­non in restau­rants of ev­ery­one tak­ing a photo of their meals be­fore they start eat­ing?

It’s a part of the world we live in, for bet­ter or for worse. Even when I have peo­ple over for din­ner, I al­low a buf­fer time to let peo­ple stand on the ta­bles and chairs to get a good photo. What­ever it takes to get the shot, I do it, so I un­der­stand that and have to ex­tend that op­por­tu­nity to other peo­ple.

What are three food pho­tog­ra­phy tips that you would give for some­one with a DSLR cam­era?

Firstly, get a tri­pod. Tak­ing food pho­tographs with­out a tri­pod is like try­ing to work with one hand tied be­hind your back. When it comes to food on a plate, some­times it needs to be ad­justed, and you can’t do that when you have your cam­era in one hand. Never use your on-cam­era flash. It looks like a crime scene photo of food – it brings out all the worst qual­i­ties of food. Ex­per­i­ment and move around – walk around the ta­ble, try to in­cor­po­rate some of the en­vi­ron­ment. Re­mem­ber that you’re telling a story with pho­tog­ra­phy, and the same is true for food pho­tog­ra­phy. Who made it? Where did it come from? Where was it grown? If you can in­cor­po­rate that into the main frame, you’ll have a much stronger story.

What about with cam­era phones?

The num­ber one com­plaint peo­ple make is that restau­rants are too dark to take good pic­tures. If you’re go­ing to a restau­rant where you know you’ll want to pho­to­graph the food, get there early! Get a spot by the win­dow. And ask if you can move your plate to well lit ar­eas to take the photo. An­other tip – if you’re not go­ing to get the shot, don’t fight it. You’re an­noy­ing ev­ery­one in the restau­rant if you keep push­ing it. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get that shot for your blog. And fi­nally, do not use your cam­era flash. It an­noys peo­ple and you won’t get a good shot at all.

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