After spending the last many gigs shooting portraits and candids–that is to say, all people shots–it was refreshing to shift gears a little bit this weekend and work on some food photography. The client is working on becoming a food stylist, so we did a little test shoot of a few things she baked up and decorated to see how they look on the camera. Not bad at all, I think.
Shooting food is kind of a funny thing. First, you don’t interact with your subject at all, unless you’d call dolloping cream cheese icing here and there, or rearranging a stack of bread wedges interacting. Maybe it is, but it is a qualitatively different type of interaction than you typically have with people. I’ve been around food and kitchens enough to avoid saying that food doesn’t have a personality to bring out; I think it does, if personality is the right word to use (maybe food has character, instead). Just like people have distinguishing features in their faces, or their hair or their smiles or the way they fold their arms, food has visual characteristics that help us prepare for what the food is. The crumb structure and crust of bread, the runniness or stiffness of an icing, the shade of gold or green an olive oil casts when it is hit by cross lighting…all of these are there, waiting to be brought out in the photographs.
In the food world, it is a truism that we eat with our eyes first, and the care that is taken either on presentation or on something like food styling says something not just about the expected quality of the food, but also about the care taken in conceptualizing the food. And that is important: any good art will not just start as a process, but as a concept…there has to be a target to shoot for, and not just a product that is arrived at. I think that’s the same when considering how much molasses to add as it is when considering lighting and aperture to have a piece of pumpkin bar emerging somewhat dreamily from the background, or using a very narrow depth of field to pull the viewer so close to the subject that the are almost forced to imagine what it tastes like, and not just how it occupies a place on the table.
Beth also makes monsters. I don’t have a link yet to where you can score one of these awesome little critters, but I will post it when I have it. I’m getting two.