A food photography shoot
We recently talked to Susie White (Seen centre), Digital Marketing Manager at unearthed®, about a recent food photography shoot she arranged and asked her to share the background on the process.
"As sites like Pinterest continue to grow, the power and influence of photography can’t be denied. One of the most pinned and browsed categories are food and drink, demonstrating that food photography is where it’s at.
With the advent of smartphones and photography apps we’ve all got the power to take great pictures. But there are times when you need the help of professionals and the re-launch of a food brand website is just one of those times.
The unearthed® website has been in existence since 2011 and following a packaging re-design in 2013 the site was sadly lacking. As a result we’re about to launch a shiny new exciting website, chock full of discovery which will match the playful feel of the packs.
Cue a week long photography session; new images to bring the products to life, inspiring people to try the on-pack serving ideas (we’ve kept them simple). The objective was beautiful images, shot in a consistent (styling and props) way that could also be used across digital/social channels and branded presentations.
Photographer Tim Winter and food stylist, Joy Skipper, gave me their hints and tips for a successful photo shoot – which of course we followed.
Number of dishes/products you plan to try and shoot in one session?
Realistically you’d aim to shoot no more than six to seven recipe shots in one day. Better to do less, and spend more time. Often it depends on the shot required, as to whether it’s an over-head for a cut-out, or a styled and propped shot. If you’re just taking product shots then obviously you could do more, but again it depends on what you’re looking for in the finished piece.
Top five pieces of equipment used/needed?
It goes without saying that a camera and laptop are the most important things – otherwise no shoot!
For a photographer it would be black and white card, which can be used to help reflecting and blocking light. A tripod is also essential - in low light conditions using a tripod helps to reduce camera shake which can blur the picture. In good light conditions, then hand-holding the camera gives you more freedom to shoot variations and move around your subject. Also if exact colour reproduction is essential (as for packaging photography) then a ‘grey’ card is used alongside light-balancing software.
For a food stylist, tweezers are an absolute essential, as well as a very sharp knife. Don’t forget the small brushes too (for glistening food with oil).
Stages of building the shot (props, food preparation etc) through to the final image
We really approached this as a team. Firstly we would talk about the set up and chose the props. As Joy goes off to cook, we would sometimes use dummy props and/or food to help compose the shots. Once the food is ready we then arrange and style it. Certain things are often left till the end i.e. breaking egg yolks, pouring beer, frothing coffee, adding tonic etc. Final garnishes are also added, then we take the picture. Once we have the picture, we’ll then discuss, tweak and (if necessary) re-shoot.
Key tips you would give to young photography enthusiasts in creating their own shoot
Plan the shot and visualise what you are hoping to achieve. Look at magazines, website sources and cookery books, for inspiration, but then do your own thing. Also bear in mind that it’s hard to cook the food yourself and take the pictures. Consider getting someone into help, who is confident in the kitchen."