Story on a Plate: Food Photography Workshop

Food photography has interested me ever since I started writing restaurant reviews as a journalist fresh out of college. Often the publications I wrote for didn’t have budget for a professional photographer, so I had to make do with a cheap camera and a beginner’s understanding of photography. The results were less than impressive. (You can check out the good, bad and ugly on my Flickr stream.)

Yesterday, some coworkers and I gathered in a conference room to watch an online food photography workshop by Todd Porter and Diane Cu. I didn’t catch the whole class, but the portions I did watch contained some valuable lighting and styling tips.

Lighting Makes a Difference

Todd and Diane spent the first few hours demonstrating how different lighting angles can transform a shot, and help tell a story. Check out their example below: the only difference in each shot is the direction of the light.

Food Photography Around the Clock

For further proof, take a look at these two shots of fried chicken. My iPhone photo of the television screen doesn’t do either photo justice, but the differences are still clear. The first shot is lit from the back, giving the chicken texture, dimension and an appetizing glow. The second, right-hand shot has direct lighting, emphasizing the bare spots where the breading has flaked away and turning the chicken into a single, unappetizing mass.

Fried Chicken Food Photography

Todd and Diane also shared a list of eight elements to consider for successful food styling:

  1. Focus
  2. Balance
  3. Texture
  4. Color
  5. Lines
  6. Movement/motion
  7. Height
  8. Story

This list could easily be applied to other types of photography as well.

Take Your Own Food Photography Workshop

If you missed “Story on a Plate: Food Photography and Styling,” you can buy anytime access for $129. And check out the photographers’ food photography blog, White on Rice Couple, for more tips and inspiration.

I also learned a lot of valuable food photography tricks from Tabletop Photography 101: a four-week online workshop offered by Nicole’s Classes. The instructor feedback was invaluable.

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