Jun 9 2012

“I want that” food photography

When shooting food photography, I strive to evoke a singular response in the viewer:

“I want that.”

Desert Fish - Salmon

Whether it’s conscious or not, I want the viewer’s eyes to widen, her mouth to water, and color to come back into her vision as if suddenly awakened from a reverie of mediocre food.

I want my food photography to be Pavlov’s bell for Albuquerque restaurants. Bringing a physiological and emotional effect is one of the highest compliments and challenges for any photographer, and most people have a long-lost emotional attachment to food. I want them to remember that attachment, and become involved in the simple act of viewing, because it reminds them of the joy of flavor, scent, sound, and the tactile. Whether it’s the crackly sound and feeling of a baguette breaking beneath your fingertips, or the light glistening in a drop of honey with the scent of warm peaches, I want my photography to not only convey the image but also to remind the viewer of good food in one’s past.

Yia Yia Maria - Pasta Flora

Food photography is one of the most fun, but also very difficult types of commercial photography. It’s difficult primarily because the moment food hits a plate, it begins to “die on the plate”. Salads wilt, ice melts, steam evaporates, glazes and syrups creep away. The food photographer has only minutes, if not mere seconds from the moment it’s plated, to capture the best image.

Besides having a limited window to shoot the food, the food must also look appetizing in print and display. This is an invisible hurdle, because the chef plating the food does not necessarily realize how it will look in two dimensions. Most of the time, it translates well, but something that looks wonderful when gazing at all directions might look very flat and uninspired when viewing from a single angle. It’s the food photographer’s job to find the best interpretation, and as a food stylist, Aperture Photography can help create that perfect angle and composition.

Desert Fish - Scallops

“I’m going to plate it like that from now on.” –sous-chef after viewing my food styling after describing exactly what I was doing, and why.

Many things happen “under the hood” when styling food. It’s not all plastic ice cubes and glycerin, but there is definitely a lot of toothpicks, paper towels, tweezers, and brushes involved. Often, the food is not fully cooked when photographed to extend the time the photographer has, and create a more plump look. Capturing glazes dripping down or steam rising is one of the challenges, and nailing that perfect shot is a great reward. Not all food lends itself well to photography, but some works exceptionally well. I enjoy leaving some room for the viewer’s mind to wander and fill in extra details.

Desert Fish - Tuna with Orange Zest Butter

So, after looking at the pictures, is your mouth watering?

 

Farm & Table - Pork Belly with Freshly Picked Greens

Do you want that?

 

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