Food Photography 101 ~ Part 1: The Creative
By Jackie Connelly www.jackieconnelly.com/blog
August 3rd, 2009
Written as Guest Blog Post for Bakergirl Creations

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Since breaking into the world of food photography, I’ve met a lot of people (both in the real world and the virtual one) who want to get better at shooting food. I’ve compiled this beginner’s list based on some of the questions I’ve been asked and what I consider helpful tips to growing as a food & beverage photographer. Part 1 will start us off, focusing on the creative side; Part 2 will focus on the technical side, and Part 3 will deliver some valuable resources.

1. Look at other food & beverage photographers work. Subscribe to photo and food blogs you admire, visit food and beverage photographers sites around the world, and if you can’t buy the glossy drool-worthy food magazines out of New Zealand, the UK etc, get a coffee and make a lengthy appointment with the food magazine section of your nearest bookstore. Oh, and bring a napkin for the aforementioned drool.

2. Start collecting props. I have a few stores I visit frequently that always have inexpensive but fabulous props. The standard flatware and dishes will be a necessity for your prop cupboard/drawer/shelf, but I’m a sucker for those odd little kitchen things like a vintage mustard spoon or a green hand held lime squeezer. And if you can make-do with incomplete sets you’ll be able to pick up some stellar pieces at low prices. Just make sure you have room to store them, or you’ll have to start choosing furniture pieces based solely on their storage capacity as I have.  As you begin to spend time shopping you’ll start to see which types of props catch your eye, ie-modern, vintage, etc…pay attention to this, it’s the beginning of #3.

3. Determine your visual style. This is a biggie. It won’t happen overnight, and you may find it will change as your work progresses, so try not to stress about it. My suggestion is keep it on the back burner, and once every 3 months book (quiet, alone, do-not-disturb-me) time to critically review your work to see if a visual style is presenting itself, or if the stylistic intent you’ve already decided upon is coming across consistently. In the meantime, try shooting in different styles and consider food & beverage photographers who shoot in a variety of visual styles for inspiration. An interesting exercise I was given prior to a consultation with Selina Maitreya was to go through magazines or websites and find 5-7 photos that I would have killed to create. Like I’m dying from jealously they’re so good. Then make notes about why I love them (this is one of those write down what comes to your mind as soon as it comes, don’t edit); I wrote mine on sticky notes on the back of each photo. Then look at all the notes you’ve written; is there a pattern? Do the photos all fall into a similar visual style? Is the lighting the same? The composition? The style of props used? This is your visual style coming out. It’s an awesome process to do; I’ve done it several times. Oh, and if you’re thinking of getting into commercial photography, read Selina’s latest book. It’s holistic, inspirational, and it’s my bible.

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