Liveblog: Food Photography in Restaurants and Kitchens

BlogHer Original Post

Welcome to the liveblog of the BlogHer Food '10 panel "Visuals: Food Photography for Food Bloggers: How to capture your best photo in restaurants and your home kitchens."

Here's the description:

Photographing food in your home kitchen or restaurants can be challenging, but it's not impossible to capture great shots. With a few simple photography principles, tips on lighting and efficient techniques on making the most of your surroundings, you can create mouth watering photographs in your kitchen or restaurant environment. Diane Cu and Todd Porter, the writers and photographers behind White on Rice Couple, are back to help you make the most of a restaurant setting or turn your home kitchen into a "mini-studio", using simple photographic guidelines to capture your best shot, to tell your food story (and still have a warm meal).

Your liveblogger is Minnie. Check back during the panel (10:00am - 11:15am on October 8) for the liveblog!

Can't make it to BlogHer Food? Get the virtual conference pass and don't miss a thing!

I have contacted Diane and Todd for the Power point that illustrates the clock lighting principle.

food photography for food bloggers how to capture your best photo in restaurants and in home kitchens!

diane cu and todd porter from white on rice -

are professional photographers  
D started photographing people, events, decde to work harder and started a studio decided she wanted to do this for the next 10 years.

Todd was in rest business for 15 yrs. both love food, huge part of their lives. vietnmese mother in law, T grew up on a ranch?
but with a hamburger helper mom, wanted to make better food for himself. almost opened own restaurant but that becomes  all consuming and they didnt want that to be their whole lives.
they liked working together  vacations were impossible because their schedules never coinsided. 

stated a blog, white on rice -porn SEO!
really melding their skills

2 cookbooks due out next year!

not about secrets, they are self taught and feel like people in the past were holding back info and they don't do that. they want to help people improve their photogrpah.

new challenges for every kind of photography. food photography has different rules. 

difference between talent and skill. talent, god given, skill means hard work! dont give up, trial and error will help you imporve.

people have very busy lives. parents cooking have to juggle cooking and kids, etc

 - work flow and system for home cooking and photogrpahy. some simple concepts to make it easier to wrangle everything at once.

thought process:
both creative and technical
never randomly take a shot.  try to be both creative and technical, read your manual
luck shot? no. s

access your environment
lookat your room, what will you shoot? what feel do you want, what is available. 
before you even pick up your camera. look at cocktail you want ot shoot. where am i? where is my light source, what direction is it coming from? 

decide on mood, feel, and story of your photos
you can have total control on mood and story of your photograph. dont be the person who trys for the lucky shot. set goals!

choose your gear.
least important of your conciderations at this point. you dont have to spend the money. a 1000 camera can take a shitty shot and a 100$ camera can take a great shot. (<-- this is so true. try to not stress about your crappy camera!)

Natural light work flow,
color is nuetral

comp of light
decide the mood and style and fell and story of the photo with light
bright airy and fresh? moody and sexy? warm and dark. use what you ahve
amount and direction
quality of light
too little
too much
move subject or your self.
be dynamic! move around!

photography is about capturing light, how light is falling on your subject. one thing can be shot a million ways in the same environment just by changing light and positions.

think of light as a clock, light comes in different directions.
use that to get the shot you want.
subject in the middle

(get power point from them!)

12oclock backlight - subject in middle and light source behind it.
look at shadows to get idea of where light is coming from.
geat for catching shimmer and glare from liquids in glass.
( think of this as the star trek girly close up)
9oclock side light - photographer is in 6 oclock position -this gives you a completely different picture
light is still a bit behind, wrapping around
4oclock position -photographer at 6oclcock  -catching some nice cshowdows, shadow are not your enemy!
6oclcok flat light - no shadows, shooting form same angle as light source. no dimension to this subject. flat. compared to other ones with shadows are more dynamic

same thing applies even on location. you can always move yourself. or to move your subject. or change your environment - open or close a curtain, etc.

looking at any photographs you think are beautiful and assess the light source. where are the shadows? 

we beat this to death because it is important!


controlling light

too little  light - bouncing and reflecting light to help your light amount.
cheap solution
buy some cheap white foam core at a drug store (like what kids do science projects on!), michaels  at 3-4$
clamps at home depot. - 3$ creates stand for your foam core.   (link to this people are confused...)
slate tile from home depot makes  a nice bottom
        use clamps to hold up your foam core. like clamp the clamps to the bottom of your board to create a sort of stand (look for example in PP)

Too much light

remove light by using black foam core. you block your light in. this helps you get dark harder shadows
bouncing light helps you soften up your shadows

food photography does not always have to be in the kitchen! go where light is. be dynamic! take time of day into concideration. opena  door. close a window. etc.

you do not have to shoot in your kitchen!

what if you have no natural light? 
you have to learn to use flash, take it off camera, there's a whole set of tech rules for learning that.
you can use a regualr lamp for your light sourtce (diffuse - meaning softening - with a sheet of paper, vellum, or a sheet!) and use the same clock principles.

morning light, late evening light - light is softer, shadows are less harsh.

story, mood, and feel

choosing the best possible subjects
dont use the limpy lettuce. pick the best bits. the best strawberries on top.

positive and negative space
less can be more. the subject that occupies the photo is positive space. negative space is all the rest of the emtpy space.
like a poem.  creates some emptieness can focus your in on subject

rule of thirds
bisect a paper with two lines verticall and horizontally. the four points where the lines intersect (see power point) are zen places to put your sujects

camera angles.
take your own height into consideration, change your angle. straight on, looking down, mix it up t get differnt feels


Be prepared!
photogrphy Mise en Place

set up your shot before hand while you are cooking. 

Getting these basic principles here are not focusing on GEAR. It's all about capturing the light an controling.

** shoot in RAW! allows you to gives you more editing options. the file is bigger but this file format gives you more data to work with out of camera editing.

someone in audience mentions this camera:
s905 cannon
point and shoot lets you shoot in RAW.

what about shooting kids in your food shots?
bribe them! hahah
have your shot all set up and then bring in the more dynamic element of the kids. coach them. anticipate the dynamic and motions. 


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