Communication is your first step.

Ensure that you understand and get a clear breakdown in your brief from the client. Although taking pictures of food looks really easy, it’s not that straight forward unless you are well versed and experienced with lighting and that you understand what the client requires. This will assist you in preparing your list as to what you require for the photo shoot.

Make sure that before the shoot you research the client’s current website to establish a feel of taste, the look and the expectations that are required on handover of the images. Search relevant websites and recipe books for references that illustrate great photography that portray the genre of food that the client specializes in serving and again who is the target market. This will ensure the images attract the desired “eyeballs” and in turn generate sales. Take note of the styling, composition, the lighting and the layout to ensure that you remain cool headed and have the confidence to deliver when under pressure and on the job.

Take into consideration the best and most suitable times, as well as dates, so as to advise the client in securing the shoot, as most of the time, these are clients that have set slots assigned for breakfast, lunch and dinner that they work around. You firstly need to consider the setup location area at the venue, as well as the lighting and backgrounds required need to meet the look for the brief. These factors cannot interfere with the passing flow of trade or the customers. Should you be shooting at an outdoor location, make sure that you do a weather check as well as time your shoot perfectly with the lighting in order to avoid unnecessary glare or shadows, lighting is always key to a good shot.

The Food on the Menu and the location

Normally, one is commissioned to capture the entire menu. Different food requires different and ongoing work and styling as well as attention to detail to assume the look of the plated meal remains appetizing and ready to eat. As the photographer, it is important to not only take direction from the client, but from the food stylist as they play a major role in the overall process.

Ensure that you decide on a space or location large enough, with good natural light, or close to a window and out of direct sunshine. This will afford you enough room as well as the lighting required for set up to shoot of the menu.

The list

My advice is to take a sheet of tracing paper to ensure that all the natural light is diffused as required to achieve the direction and required look for the shoot. Diffused light will provide options for subtle lighting effects which will assist in the overall photography setup.

Make sure that you take a tripod, as well as a reflector or bounce board, along with your choice of lens and camera body to the shoot. As I always emphasize, good glass with the appropriate lens is key to the quality of the final image.

Understanding light and the magic of indoor natural light is amazing and opens doors to the inevitable when it comes to being creative or just being able to reach your goal from the start.

Natural light is real, it is not white false flash lights used to boost and light a product, so again natural light will compliment the correct atmosphere and temperature  and this can be achieved without over editing and providing these effects in the post – production process. Again, with the use of diffused light, there is should not be any glare or reflections  as you would get from a harsh white flash which normally causes one to have to spend more time and attention when editing.

To conclude:

Preparation is key regards to having a clear understanding of the job.

  • Make use of relevant references for set up.
  • Ensure that you communicate with the key people – client and stylist.
  • Location and set up is vital regarding space and lighting for setup.
  • Be calm and ensure that your setup is perfect and that you are equipped with all the necessary gear to perform and meet the standards and brief of the job.