I decided to write this after looking at pictures on food blogs and I realized that there were some really amazing photos being posted, and there were many more that were terrible. I perused what was already out there on the subject of food photography. Some of the books I saw were outrageously expensive and others said nothing much. A few of them were all about food stylists and how to fake it (more on that in the next chapter). The best ones on general photography tended to get a bit too technical.
This is not intended to make you a professional food photographer, or a food stylist. On the contrary it is written primarily for people who just want to take better food pictures. Some of these people are chefs who need to create a portfolio of their dishes; others are people write cookbooks and need pictures to illustrate their books. Some are food bloggers and critics who need pictures for their websites and others are restaurant owners who want to feature a special on their website, or social network. Now it would be nice if these people called me to take the pictures for them (and if I charged them a nice fee) but it’s easier for them to take their own. To that end I will assume that you know little to nothing about photography and go over the basics. I will try to simplify anything technical.
My qualifications are that I was a full-time professional photographer for about fifteen years doing weddings, corporate, political, sports and product photography. I managed a small, but very busy camera store for a few years. I taught basic photography for adults at a local college for a few years and later I went into teaching high school social studies and writing fiction. That shelved my photography career and that was probably a good thing as I was getting burned out working every weekend at weddings. Turning a hobby into a business can be a bad idea sometimes. My interest shifted to food pictures to illustrate my restaurant review blog, as well as pictures of my grandchildren.
The food photography started when we travelled and I started to take pictures of the places we ate and that developed (pun intended) into pictures of the food I ate. My blog, Burgers and Brews Food Reviews, has become quite popular over the years. I follow a few of the restaurants I’ve reviewed on Facebook and I often cringe when I see some of the pictures they post, usually taken and posted with a smart phone.
There are a few things I have to clarify. When it comes to cameras I speak Nikon and I speak Mac when it comes to computers. I also have a bit of technical knowledge of photography, but I do not in any way claim to be an expert. Some of you (the extremely technically oriented) may disagree with what I say, and that’s okay. I remember many years ago when another photographer wanted to have a shootout test between his flash and mine. He thought his was better. I simply said that it may be, but my flash works for me. And so it is with photography, do what works for you and take what some people say with a grain of salt.
So what makes food photography different from other subjects?