Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shallow focus

Back in the days of film, I used to say that studio photography is all about controlling light and focus. We use those two tools to drive a consumer's eyes to a certain point in an image. That point is usually the product that our client desires to sell. This is a recipe shot for a marshmallow client. They wanted a shot that would help you imagine biting into a yummy, crisp, rice crispy bar, read the recipe included in the ad and then buy the products that were being advertised. This time we used a soft, very well filled back light and super limited focus.
This shot had an art director who came with layouts for this ad, a food stylist to make, carefully cut, and then clean up the bars, a photo assistant to care for the clients and help the photographer and a photographer to control the light and focus.
If you have ever cut a crispy bar out of a pan, you know how difficult it is to pull out a nice looking bar. The secret here is to lift the whole thing out of the pan, and then trim the edges off until you're left with a nice bar or two. Needless to say, the stylist makes many pans of bars so that she/he can end up with the perfect ones for the final shot. All thats left is for the food stylist to work with the photographer on camera to arrange the bars so they look great.
I don't always do it, but many food photographers light most shots from the back. This shot shows why. The broad bank light scraping light across the top bar brings out details with the shadows toward the front. Each bar separates from the others and looks light and airy. The short depth of focus adds to the soft look of this image and helps to drive your eyes to the front corner and top of the main bar. It's a different lighting that helps make the client's recipe and products the hero!

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