My friends Rick & Susan Sammon recently released “The Oregon Coast Photo Road Trip” book. If you don’t know Rick & Susan I suggest you visit ricksammon.com. He’s a great photographer and instructor. We’re doing a Mt Rainier workshop together in the fall of 2020, visit my workshop page for more info. Anyway, Rick is a big fan of Rogue Ale’s Dead Guy, so being a beverage photographer, it was only natural I combined the book with the beer to create a photograph in honor of my friends book release. Cheers!
Recently I was asked where the inspiration comes from for my Food Photography and how I go about building and finishing the photographs. So, here’s a run down of a my recent shot of 4 grapes.
When I saw the grapes in the supermarket it sparked the idea for the shot. I was pushing the cart, hunched over it, head low, right at the height of the produce, going up and down the aisles when I saw them. The produce section has green shelving where they keep the grapes and the red grapes looked great against it. I wanted to mimic that look in my food photography.
When I got them home, I set up the studio with a white translucent background and a white reflective piece of poly for a table top. The first light was set up behind the translucent with a green gel on it. If you’ve got white translucent and reflective, gels can be your best friend to change them to all different kinds of colors.
The grapes went down on the tabletop and the first shot looked like a silhouette. I added an overhead light in a beauty dish above the grapes and slightly in front of them. The second shot brought out the grapes but also brought back the white of the reflective surface they were on, totally washing out the green from the gelled back light. It was at that point I knew I needed two shots to composite together.
I got the grapes ready. Looking through the bunch I found the 4 best looking and broke off that batch from the rest. Carefully washing them and drying them so as not to bruise them. Then a fine misting spay bottle with a 50/50 water to glycerine mixture provided the water drops. I find that if you spray to the side of the subject rather then straight on you get a much finer droplet.
The grapes went back to the table and the first shot was made with only the back light, providing the green tone across the back and the table top. Then a second shot with the beauty dish light from above to light the grapes. A tripod is paramount as you don’t want the camera to move at all between the two shots.
Then the two shots are brought together in Photoshop to composite them together. For info on that look a little further back in the blog for the videos I did on the Buddha Beer bottle composites. Same idea.
I hope you enjoyed this short explanation. If you have any Food Photography questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Beer is so much fun to photograph. The head. The condensation. The way light glows through it. Beverage photography is great, beer photography in particular.
When I tried this beer at Devil’s Creek, with the chocolate rim, I knew I wanted to feature it in my Beverage Photography. I wanted to feature the condensation mixing with the chocolate and capture it sliding down the side of the glass.
One of the best ways to entice people to visit your restaurant or purchase your product is to make them hungry or thirsty. Professional food photography can do that in a way that a quick photograph with your phone cannot do.
I had a restaurant owner tell me that customers told him they were instantly hungry for his food when they visited his website and saw his dishes featured in photographs. They had never visited before but they came right in that evening.
About 3 months before he had reached out to me and we worked together to create great looking food photography for his place. We got together and talked about what food he wanted to feature, the mood he likes to convey for his restaurant. We then planned a day to come in to his restaurant when we could shoot. We found the right spots to photograph each plate. We talked about how the food should be plated and how I would photograph the food. He made and plated the dishes one at a time. Using a mixture of natural light and artificial light, props from around his restaurant and my sense of composition, we created food photographs that made people hungry.
It doesn’t happen in an instance. It takes a little bit of planning and work but creating food photography that will make people hungry or thirsty and want to get those desires satisfied with your food or drinks can be done when you hire a professional food photographer.
I’ve been following restaurants and breweries on Instagram for a while now and am always amazed at how businesses show themselves. As a Food Photographer and Beverage Photographer, I do admit that I am a little biased in favor of good imagery. But what I’ve seen from some places looking to promote themselves can only be called disheartening. I’ve spoken with restaurant owners and many of them seem to understand the importance of making their food look as good as possible, which is why they hire a Food Photographer in the first place. It seems many businesses haven’t gotten that message. Using your cell phone to make a photo of a dish you have at a restaurant as a customer is fine. Show off that great meal you’re about to eat. If the color is off or the lighting is bad, no big deal, you’re doing some social media bragging, not looking to sell the meal you’re about to eat. If on the other hand you are looking to get people in to your restaurant, brewery or pub to pay you to try your offerings and you’re using quick cell phone photos to promote yourself, you aren’t doing your business any real favors. I can’t tell you how many times I see photos where the color is off and the food doesn’t look very appetizing at all. How many times a beer or glass of wine looks dull and lifeless. There is so much competition in the hospitality world, so many places for your customers to choose from, why wouldn’t you want to make what you’re offering look as good as possible. You’re trying to build your business on Instagram, which is a visual medium. Why would you post less than stunning images? You may only get one chance to make an impression on a potential new customer. I’d suggest you work with a professional Food Photographer or Beverage Photographer. I just so happen to know someone I can recommend. ;)
This week I had the honor to be a guest on The Picturing Success Podcast with Rick Sammon and Larry Becker.
Rick and I talked about my top Food Photography and Beverage Photography tips. it was a great conversation. You can check out this show and all there others here. If you want to learn more about Food Photography, Beverage Photography or lighting that you can apply to other types of photography you should give it a listen. Plus their other podcasts are great too. Cheers!
Why I’m a Food Photographer? I spent time as a wedding photographer. I’ve photographed people, landscapes, cityscapes and street photography, so what was it about food and beverages that really took hold of me?
Looking back on my days so far, almost every great moment with family and friends involved either food or drink or both. Going back to when I was a kid, I remember the holidays when the family would come over and we’d gather around the dinning room table and spend the entire day there. The food would come out in waves, dishes would be cleared, another wave of food, coffee would follow with desert. We’d be laughing or arguing but no matter what the memories are good.
Later on in life, keg parties or getting together with friends for at a bar. Friends having a good Meeting someone new over coffee or a dinner.
See the thread here. Food and drink is always involved. When we gather as people we do so over a meal or in a place to sit with a drink and socialize. That’s where real connections are made. That’s where life really happens. The important parts of life for me anyway.
So it’s not surprising that Food Photography and Beverage Photography is my “chosen” type of photography. Sure I photograph other things and I find that fun and fulfilling as well. But photographing food and beverages is what I really love to do. I do it for clients and I do it for myself just for the fun and challenge of it. That is where my passion is.
I’ve been a food photographer for years now. I love it. Being a beverage photographer can be a lighting challenge some times, but you can usually enjoy a drink after you’ve gotten the shot. In short, I am a Food and Beverage Photographer simply because I love it.