The Key Ingredient: Pixels
During almost every commercial-photography
assignment in my pre-digital days, one of my major concerns was whether I got the shot before the set was dismantled. No matter how carefully I planned or executed a shot, a wide range of technical problems could arise that were out of my control.
Then, in 1995, everything changed when I
“went digital.” Even though I knew that, at the time, digital image quality was not as good as film for larger reproductions, the immediacy and versatility of digital photography proved to be satisfactory for my newspaper and Web work. I was very excited by this, and embraced the new technology with fervor.
Digital Photography: The Necessities
Since the mid 1990s, digital camera technology has advanced very quickly. New cameras and features are continually released. Identifying the right digital camera for you can be challenging because there are so many options from which to choose. If you are buying a professional digital camera, there are several key features to look for.
In this chapter, you’ll find out what aspects you need to consider when selecting a digital camera and accessories,
as well as some basic information about understanding and using your digital camera.
Who’s Digesting It: Advertising, Packaging, Public Relations, and the Media
Image is everything in food photography. We are a generation of visual people, and we are naturally stimulated by what we see. Beautiful food images conjure up all the human senses. Among the goals I have for readers of this book is to help them understand various techniques to create successful food photographs—and, of course, to attract clients who are willing to pay for them. Naturally, media and marketing professionals understand that food is a pleasure as well as an essential part of life. They use imagery to communicate that message—drawing us in, and keeping our senses at full attention.
Who’s Doing the Cooking: Working with Food Stylists
Teamwork is a key element of any successful food photo shoot. Depending on the size of the shoot, the team may consist of a photographer, an art director, a food stylist, a prop stylist, and production assistants. Team members collaborate during all stages of the shoot— planning, organization, execution, and delivery
—in order to ensure that things go smoothly and that the result is a great product. The ultimate objective on any food shoot is to create images that appear fresh, artistic, and beautiful!.
Prop Styling: Who’s Doing the Shopping?
The prop stylist is integral to making a photo shoot successful. Put simply, while the photographer captures the story that the client wants to tell, the food and prop stylists are the artists who create the story. It is a team effort. In particular, the prop stylist determines the visual elements needed to get the shot. The prop stylist must be a savvy, smart shopper, must be well-organized, and must be resourceful and prudent in his or her use of time. Prop stylists must also be able to work within tight budget constraints. In addition, patience and flexibility are traits that go a long way.
Grabbing Your Attention: Composition
Composition refers to the arrangement of various forms, shapes, textures, colors, and elements in a photograph. Think of it as trying to put a puzzle together, with pieces that are not precut to fit a certain way. There are a variety of techniques for composing good photographs depending on the subject matter. Although good composition is something that people can learn through practice—and the experience of observing many images, movies, TV shows, and fine art pieces—it is also an inherent skill.
The Recipe for Light
In photography, the importance of lighting cannot be understated. Just as “location, location, location” is the key to real estate, good lighting is essential to any great food photograph. Lighting is the most essential variable that the photographer controls, after all the other professionals and artists have gotten the food and set ready to be captured. Understanding and using lighting is crucial to bring out the best in your subject. Light in its many varieties and moods is, after all, what we as photographers strive to capture.
The Digital Spice: Retouching
Almost every image that is used for reproduction requires some correction, enhancement, and digital processing. The goal is to make the food look great in the photo. That’s what makes everyone happy. In addition to addressing image problems, digital retouching also corrects or adjusts for technical issues. Digital camera sensors and firmware (software) vary from one manufacturer to another and have different biases and defaults.
Get Cooking and Make Some Money: Getting into the Business
Most photographers, including me, are creative individuals. We view the world differently from other people. We prefer to avoid typical, mundane activities like filing tax returns, paying rent, and getting health-insurance coverage. Don’t let these tasks overwhelm you. Start with good habits and do them right. This will set you up with a solid foundation that will enable you to maintain a client database and keep your studio running smoothly!