The Etiquette of Food Photography

February 05, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

      What is it with the urge to photograph food? We do it to record a meal, to illustrate a particular food success or failure, to create a beautiful and enticing image, or just to make our friends jealous of the terrific time we are having.     

     But suddenly, food photography is an entirely new arena of controversy. Or so The New York Times reports.

     To be honest, it's a little unclear to me if this is a serious issue, or if it's a matter of a desperate reporter seeking something, anything, to write about. That said, not all elements of this story are in doubt. There's no question that a lot of people do photograph their food. The mock iPhone 5 ad on this subject is one of the funniest videos making the rounds these days. It's also fair to say that reactions to these images range from something beyond boredom to utter disgust. Furthermore, there's no escaping the fact that, when they are taken in restaurants, the process of taking these photos can be highly annoying to chefs, waitstaff, fellow diners and tablemates.

     All that said, I plead guilty guilty guilty. I love to photograph my food. Doesn't matter if it was created and plated by my husband, by my catering friend at Barcellona Bites, or by a current favorite restaurant - in the case of the photo below, Taste. Photographing food is an arena of its own, and one in which I am working to develop a serious expertise.

     That means taking pictures of food in a variety of locales and settings. And it means doing so without alienating anyone around me, or interfering with their experience.  At home, I experiment with natural and artificial lighting, I try different table settings, and I fuss a bit with the food, to make sure each element is at its best.

     In restaurants, it's a different story. My rules:

     1. Take a window seat whenever possible, for the greatest likeliehood of a nice scrape of light across the food.

     2. Never use any form of flash.

     3. Shoot with a wide angle lens, to discreetly get the shot close up. Never stand to take a shot.  Avoid moving your chair, if possible.

     4. Don't touch or tinker with the food, yours or anyone else's, though it may be necessary to move items on the table to get them out of the shot.

     5. Positioning a fork or knife is OK.

     6. Take a light reading before the food arrives, so you can shoot quickly when it does come.

     7. Do it all in one minute, two minutes maximum.

     8. If it looks like the circumstances are just a bit too difficult, give it up.

     In other words, protect the privilege of taking these often wonderful images by keeping it as low key and discreet as possible. And . . . . bon appetit!

     To see more images of the food I love, visit my gallery, Delicious.

 

Pasta Carbonara

   

 

 


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