Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Moving back a little

I'm thinking about new posts. For the next one or two I'm going to use shots where the food is a little farther from the camera. I usually prefer to be as close-up to the food as possible. It shows better detail and the effect of the light on the texture of the food. However, there are times when the constraints of the layout prevent this and you just have to move back away from the food to allow in some related environment. This image was an easy recipe idea for a healthy school lunch, so the shot had to include other school lunch type props.
Okay, take comfort in the fact that every good food shot requires the service of a photographer. Who else is there to lovingly control the light and focus? There was an art director or designer who gave us the sketch to try to follow. It's up to them to bring the idea and choose final props. There was a food stylist to make the pita sandwich and provide the choices of fruit, a prop stylist to bring us a huge choice of school lunch type props and a photo assistant to take care of everything so the photographer could concentrate on the shot at hand.
I can't really remember but this shot was probably styled by Vicky or Kate. Because this was an editorial recipe image, the food stylist had some leeway when creating a yummy sandwich. The stylist doesn't cut the pita in half like one normally might. No, each half comes from it's own pita, is carefully cut and picked for texture and only looks like it's one sandwich. Next, the pitas are stuffed with bunched up paper towel to create the "filled" shape. Finally, the front 1-1 1/2" of the sandwich half is filled with the recipe, and the picked and prodded to look "naturally" yummy.
The main light for this shot was an optical spot coming in from the right. By scraping this hard light source across the face of the front sandwich half, the texture of the salmon (I know it looks like tuna) and lettuce is increased and makes the sandwich look 3D. Food almost always benefits from a contrasty, texture enhancing light. The hard light and focus on the front sandwich half is contrasted to the flatter, slightly darker lighting on the rest of the shot. This makes the front half the star and hopefully sells the recipe. The difference in lighting between the front and the back is one way to include an environment while still focusing on the recipe.

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