Final tips from our professional photographer
Pick a camera
Jason has three Nikon camera bodies, but just uses two of them. His D3s gets used the most as he is able to use it at up to ISO3200. His 24-megapixel D3x is used when he needs big files for commercial clients and knows he can use a tripod.
Keep your hood on
Jason recommends that you always use lens hoods when photographing food as flare can be a particular problem when shooting with fast prime lenses at or near their maximum apertures. The use of a lens hood on Mick’s 85mm could have a small but significant effect on the resolution and saturation of his photographs.
Style it with a stylist!
Our stylist for the day Silvana de Soissons, who cooked and sourced all our food to be photographed. As Jason explains, a stylist provides the photographer with lots of options – giving the props and little extras that help turn a great dish into a great photograph.
According to Silvana (who also writes her own successful food blog), the work of the stylist starts two or three days before a shoot, ensuring the ingredients are ready and the set ups agreed. She invariably has to prepare more shots than are actually needed. “We might shoot eight frames for a magazine shoot”, she explains, “but that will mean I will probably offer 12.”
Set the scene
Jason and Silvana explained that a good food picture tells a story – you need to set the scene for the dish. Here the hearty celeriac, leek and shallot soup is presented as the ideal winter warming meal.
The tray, cloth and accessories were all selected to work together, and the fried sweetcorn and fresh herbs added to provide a touch of colour. Even the drink was picked with its image-enhancing qualities in mind, as sherry apparently gives a better hue in such shots than wine.
One of the keys to successful food photography is to have a wide range of props with which to style your shots, and Silvana’s home has become an incredible museum of beautiful bowls, sieves, tablecloths, plates, spoons, and much more over her years of collecting cookware to help improve her shots.
She says secondhand pieces have got much more expensive recently, and that you always need to haggle and never pay more than a fiver. “One way of getting cheaper pieces is to buy the ones that are chipped or cracked – the imperfections won’t usually show in the shots.”
Silvana keeps cupboards full of interesting materials to add texture and colours under dishes. A particular favourite of hers are white broderie anglaise tablecloths.
A peek into Silvana’s pantry shows the shelves full of bowls, jugs, plates and other tableware that is ready for action should it be needed to help accessorise a shot.
Many of Silvana’s favourite pieces are on prominent display in her kitchen – which she hires out for photoshoots for cookery and lifestyle magazines.
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