Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What I Learned About Food Photography from Penny De Los Santos

I had the opportunity to attend Penny De Los Santos Food photography workshop for free at Creativelive.com this month. While I was not able to listen through the whole 3 day workshop, I learned some very important things in taking photos of food. I am very very FAR from being an expert at photography but I do aspire to get better at it or at least to be able to shoot in manual mode some day.
  1. Shoot in natural light. Side light from a window is nice. 
  2. Use beautiful ingredients. Think farmer's market - real, organic, fresh! 
  3. Shoot the whole process of making the food. Think about the food before it ever hits the plate or how it comes out of the oven. At what point did it look best? 
  4. Edit the plate. Analyze the food plating, and edit it as need be. Use old utensils, plates, dirty spoon, etc to add character. Put napkin or wax paper to add texture and color. Take things out, put things on side, break yolks open, cut into it, stick a fork in it. 
  5. Things don't have to be perfect. Introduce disorder into order. Messy can be beautiful. 
  6. Infuse your photos with textures and dynamic energy. 
  7. Not all food look good from the same angle so shoot at different angles - overhead, 3/4 view, side view/straight on. A lot of food is vertical, so shoot vertical (framing, composition, height). Anything that has height shoot 3/4 or straight on, but be aware of background. Stands on chairs or use a ladder for an overhead shot. 
  8. Use proper depth of field. Not completely out of focus but usually soft - try overhead shots at 5.6 to 8. Avoid excessive bokeh. 
  9. Photograph a meal in progress. Take shots of half eaten plates - these can be dynamic, exciting, and all round irresistible. 
  10. Fill up most of the frame with the food, but don’t get so close to the food that you’re not able to distinguish what it is you’re looking at.
    At the end of the day, experts judge photos for these three things:
    1. Technical excellence
    2. Compositional creativity
    3. Editorial relevance - must show use or purpose of the picture

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