Food Photography: Making food look attractive

The art of food photography

So what is the purpose of food photography when it comes to marketing?

This is an interesting question, as things have changed in the last few years. No longer do you find food photography with set up shots, often with fake ingredients – so no more mashed potato ice cream, sauces substituted by motor oil or use of brown shoe polish to give meat that fresh roasted look!

The modern food photographer has to work a little harder now in order to perfect their craft.

You just need a great set up, good organisation and perfect timing to get the food looking at its best.

In the last few years food photography has become very popular. This is in part due to the success of the Pink Lady ‘Food Photographer of the Year’ competition. It has spawned a whole new breed of food photographers. The emphasis is not just on the food itself but to the aesthetics surrounding the plate. They are looking for colour and texture. They use raw ingredients to help tell the story. The rise of social media has helped with many sharing their images on Instagram and for many it is a great hobby.

A plate of traditional fish and chips taken as part of a marketing shoot for pub food

So what is the aim?

You should aim to make it look so real that the viewer can almost smell the food and hear the sizzle. For the client they are looking for a realistic representation of their craft. The food should look fresh and succulent. It should look inviting and make the viewer hungry. It should show the context and include a hint of the surroundings – vitally important if you are working for a restaurant.

An appetising plate of sausage and mash with onion gravy. Image part of a marketing food shoot.

The context for the shoot

I was commissioned by the Barons Pub Company who are undergoing re-development of their existing website. They had realised during the review that there was a distinct lack of suitable food photography on their site. While preparing for the shoot I referred to the points of culture from the client to ensure that the images fitted their ethos and reflected their branding. For them the importance was to show the food in a way that appealed to families, so they included items from the kids menu. They also wanted to emphasise the surroundings of a friendly welcoming pub. The food needed to be presented in a way that gave a lasting impression.

A bright image showing a tasty steak served with chunky chips and tomatoes on the vine.

As the aim was to highlight the food and to make it look very natural, I decided that natural light would play a role in the set up – so found a table close to the window which luckily was north facing. This provided a nice back light to the food, but it was not enough to light the food as I wanted.

The decision was made to add some artificial light which needed to be as natural as possible. This was achieved by using a Lastolite highlight background to give a very soft flood of light. These are designed to be a background for high key portrait photography, but they are also excellent at producing what looks like natural window light.

To fine tune the lighting, I also used some small reflector panels and black boards to remove light where required.

A tasty looking plate of calamari with side salad and sweet chilli as served in a pub.

https://www.baronspubs.com/

© Andrew Boschier Photography 2019

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