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Thread: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

  1. #41

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Newbury, Vermont
    Posts
    964

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    I taught a LF food and product photography course as part of an associates degree program I chaired a few years back...doing single to multi light setups with various reflectors/diffusors, plus a light table with curved transluscent surface. Mostly glassware, ceramics, jewelry, and food...with the occasional musical instrument, automotive component, hair care product, etc. etc. For this class I set up, for use alongside an LF camera, a large flatscreen with a digital live feed hooked up to a DSLR...finding this very useful - especially when using instantaneous flash with modeling lights, so students could see in more or less real time how these modeling lights translated to the actual flash image, and how to tweak effectively for desired results.

    But perhaps my favorite aspect of this class (I can say this now without fear of being fired), facilitated by its being run from 6pm onwards...is that it eventually morphed into a weekly potluck dinner - with both food items (sometimes accompanied by a responsibly shared bottle of vino) and dinnerware being photographed prior to the weekly feast!

  2. #42
    New Orleans, LA
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    578

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    A bit sideways on the topic but I heard an interesting presentation by this photographer/teacher at the national SPE convention in 2015 about the history of aesthetics in food photography. As I recall, she tied a number of different aspects to it (class, economics, overabundance) and talked about how food advertising photography went from basic representation (cans of Spam) to over representation (tables overflowing with food) to the Martha Stewart style of "natural" representation (one beautiful plate simply styled). She even talked about the deep focus look vs. the shallow dof look. She does some interesting work with food in her own work: https://www.darlenekphoto.com/food.

  3. #43

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    SooooCal/LA USA
    Posts
    1,951

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by hademarqvce View Post
    Thank you for sharing. It's interesting to me. I also want to know who eats the food after the food shoot?
    Let me explain the "food chain" (typically)...

    Generally the clients product came in 4 or 5 case boxes, but the food stylists would shop the fancy markets for other items, garnish etc... At the studio kitchen in the morning, things that needed to be cooked was prepared first, then graded due to appearance... The best stuff was called "heros" and saved for the final shoot, but the 2nd/3rd best was saved for back-up... Another plate or two was made up for stand-in ' s during set-up... Usually enough food to make about 8 plates...Individual items were examined almost under magnification (such as rice or cooked macaroni were looked at for no tell-tale sign of damage, too soggy/dry, waxy, shriveled, uniform size etc... Then usually these would be plated a step at a time... The clients product had to be original product (for truth in advertising laws) but anything else could be anything else... Liberties could be taken during prep might be "grilled" on a skillet quickly very hot, but the grill marks might be created by heating kabob skewers heated red hot, then "branded" for the grill look... Liquids like red wine was a combination of food color, soy sauce + other secret studio formulas...

    So the "elves" were in the kitchen for an hour or so prepping, the photog would give basic instructions, then off to the kitchen to cajole the crew and clients, then do something impressively compulsive like covering the top layer of rice, pasta etc with at least 50 pieces of select items, perfectly randomly arranged!!! I knew the routine for camera/set set-up like loading 50 sheets of EK 6117 (expected to be done in less than 20 mins), set flats on sawhorses, wheel over camera stand, carts, boom with the right size soft box, put props, tools etc on a rolling table near set...

    Photog would come in and tweak set, then basic plate layout (with bare plates), compose, wooden block where the plates were, and bring in the first stand-in plates... Then pull a bunch of roids... There might be a grey/color scale on the deck, a standing triangle (for a vertical reference), some shiny objects (for reflection checking, and a small white card with a yellow post-it note on it (for Polaroid checking if the yellow note separated on the white card while checking on the 'roids highlight area... Reflectors were carefully placed, and 4 flags were placed around camera lens to FULLY shade the lens (to inspect that the flags were out of frame, an ultra bright flashlight was shined on the GG that projected the GG grid onto the set and if the flags had any of the projection on them (bad) OR if the edges had any shadow sticking into them...

    Then, after tests, the plates were replaced with the "heros" and shot...

    Oh, the question!!! The food on the set wasn't usually eaten, but maybe a box of chocolates was, but perishable stuff (like sushi) was not... The set food tended to have too many hands on it, but if you ate it, you wouldn't die... There was a lot of food in reserve, that we were encouraged to take home, or eat the back up food later... We didn't slather the food with glycerin like some studios (looks greasy), but kept it natural...
    So yes, you could eat the food...

    Steve K

  4. #44

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Shortening has the "Correct" tear look and is sometimes used in place of icecream .

  5. #45

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Newbury, Vermont
    Posts
    964

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    I would sometimes be invited to take food home after location shoots. I remember a nice food setup while doing a Cabot Cheese brochure...a table full of their best cheeses and other products, about which, afterwards, the publicity gal turned to me and said..."oh, can you just take all of this home?" Most of this was wrapped - easily preserved after the shoot, and easily worth more than my day rate!

  6. #46
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    14,220

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    They sure as heck do eat it, especially if it's a cookbook setup for a famous chef. Wouldn't you? The last major setup I saw, the shooting area was right in the middle of the kitchen itself, even with a huge retractable platform above for the cameraman. It was built to handle Sinar P 8x10 gear, but now uses 4x5 Sinar P with some kind of digital back, perhaps Phase One. Below the camera hole there's a huge lightbox disc tricked out with Broncolor stuff. A very lavish expensive setup; no Spam cans in sight. Everything is photographed fresh.

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