Photographing food is something that is totally new to me, as a photographer it’s something that until now I have had absolutely no experience of whatsoever. So when the brief came that 5 of our 50 images should be of food, I was naturally quite concerned. The cause of my concern was more from a compositional and theoretical point of view rather than a technical one. I simply had no idea how to go about taking images of food that would stand out and mean something more than simply just a plate of food. On top of this, I wasn’t sure whether I’d be best trying to prepare a photoshoot at home, or in a public space like a restaurant or Café.
After some deliberation, I decided that I’d be best preparing a photoshoot in my own home. My reasons been that in my own home I’d be able to take full control of things such as lighting, positioning of food. I’d also be able to give myself plenty of space and time to use a tripod and take advantage of using small apertures and long exposures to keep film speeds low and create large depth of field.
Next I had to decide what exactly to shoot in my house and how to set it up. I had a few ideas in the back of my mind, different coloured cheeses, a photograph of a working weeks meals. I even thought of photographing an army ration pack and the different meals that could be cooked up in the field whilst camping, but sadly it’s just not the right time of year for that and I wasn’t sure of the effectiveness the shoot would have. I was at a bit of a loose end until seeing an old Panzani advert photographed by Roland Barthes in 1964 in another lecture. Suddenly the idea of photographing a meal being prepared in this style seemed one very doable in my own kitchen and two quite effective, creating something similar to the advert as a base would put me in a good position to build on from I thought.
I hoped that I could replicate the lighting in the above advert, creating shadows that would give a natural look to the image, but also producing highlights on the surfaces of the food itself to make the food look healthy and appetising. For the same reason I also left the stalks on the Tomatoes and left the skins on the onions and garlic cloves. I also believe that the simplicity of the background and tightness of the crop is highly important too, ensuring that the viewers attention is centred solely on the food alone.
In order to create something similar to the above advertisement it seemed clear to me that I was going to have to treat this shoot in a similar way to how you would a still life or advertisement. I would need several different light sources, small apertures and low film speeds.
I decided that I’d use the kitchen in my house as the setting for the shoot, I decided this for a few reasons: The first being the fact that a kitchen style setup would be the natural choice for a food shoot, the second being that in the kitchen I have several light sources which could be manipulated to produce the correct feel I was wanting on the images and thirdly because of the simple yet effective tiled back drop.
Images’s where all shot at ISO 50 (the lowest film speed on my camera) to keep grain minimal, the aperture on the lens set to F16 so that the whole food set up would be sharp and in-focus. The white balance was played around with but was looking correct on auto and so was shot on auto, the shutter speed was simply shot to the amount of time required to correctly expose the image at ISO 50, F16 which. Lighting was shone from the left through a window to create the nice white highlights on the skins of the foods and bottles, the lamp on top of the cooker was switched on to light up the tops of the food, and a bright lamp (Diffused with toilet paper) shone in on a 3/4 angle from the right providing the main lighting and casting some nice shadows off to the left. It should also be noted that all images barring the last two where also shot between 40 & 50 mm, this was done so that the photographs have minimal distortion and are presented as closely as possible to how the eye would see the food in shot.
As would be expected all images where shot in RAW on Adobe RGB, they where then edited as RAW files in Phase One for Sony editing software. In Phase one I cropped the images 35mm square in preparation for being inserted into the book. I then slightly boosted the contrast to bring out shadows and turned the white balance up a few Kelvins to create a warmer, Mediterranean feel to the images. The images where then exported as 16 BIT Tiff’s to ensure they where at their largest possible file size for further use.
Starting off with a photograph showing all of the ingredients out and placed in what I think is a compositionally stron setup.
Italian, Food, Mediterranean, Dish, Salad, Spaghetti, Bolognese, chequered, Mat, Wine, Homemade, Kitchen, tilled, Herbs, Utilities
Here we have a close up of the salad bowl, showing close up details of the ingredients, with the addition of ground salt on the food for effect.
Italian, Food, Mediterranean, Dish, Salad, Spaghetti, Bolognese, chequered, Mat, Wine, Homemade, Kitchen, tilled, Herbs, Utilities, Salt, Tomato, Garlic, Preparation
I decided to try something a little different and creative here, since the theme was Spaghetti, I decided to create an Italian flag out of the ingrediants.
Italian, Food, Mediterranean, Dish, Salad, Spaghetti, Bolognese, chequered, Mat, Wine, Homemade, Kitchen, tilled, Herbs, Utilities, Flag, Peppers, Green, Red, Onion
A photograph of the completed meal.
Italian, Food, Mediterranean, Dish, Salad, Spaghetti, Bolognese, chequered, Mat, Wine, Homemade, Kitchen, tilled, Herbs, Utilities, Presentation, Cafe, Style, Garlic, Bread
Italian, Food, Mediterranean, Dish, Salad, Spaghetti, Bolognese, chequered, Mat, Wine, Homemade, Kitchen, tilled, Herbs, Utilities, Empty, Plate, Glass, Knife, Fork