Food Photography Course at Essential Ingredient

by Kristy on July 2, 2012 · 4 comments

On Saturday I was really excited to be doing another course at Essential Ingredient. I’d had such a good experience last time that I was looking forward to learning about food photography. The class was run by Ray Jarrat a food photographer who has worked for many great food publications over the years. He had lots of stories to tell, especially some funny ones about the weird things they used to do to make food look good on camera. Thankfully most people aren’t doing things like this any more.

I’ve never put too much thought into my photos for the blog. I mean, I usually want them to be clear, instructional and have the food in prime focus, but I’ve never thought too much about styling or composure. Since I’ve started writing recipes for Essential Kids, I’ve realised that I really have to lift my photography game. I’ve been trying pretty hard. I’m pretty pleased with some of the shots I’ve come up with, but I know I have a long way to go. Here are a couple of photos that I took after doing the course. What do you think?

Date and Raisin Bran Muffins1

Beef and Barley Soup1

The course was fairly basic. Whilst it covered aspects of styling and the technical side of taking the photos, it was only really a surface exploration of the topics (which frankly I was already aware of from my own research.)

Nonetheless it was interesting to be in the room with a bunch of people who were all interested in taking photographs of food. There were a few other bloggers but there was also a dietician who was writing cook books for illiterate people, a caterer who wanted to take better photos for his brochures, a year 12 student whose major artwork for her HSC was based on recording the food people eat and their reactions to food, a professional portrait photographer who wanted to expand her horizons and people who were just interested in recording the things they eat.

The very fact that my instagram and facebook feeds are littered with photographs of people’s attempts at dinner reveals that a lot of people are in fact interested in food photography. Have you ever pulled out a cookbook from the 80s and flipped the pages gawking at the terrible photos? It’s amazing how far food photography has come since those days. The whole idea of ‘food porn’ was born from the amazing food photographs in today’s cook books and food magazines.

The main points that I took from the day were

  • Shoot in natural light in the early morning or just before dusk if possible.
  • Undercook your food slightly to prevent too much moisture loss and to preserve food integrity for photos.
  • Work fast and have everything set up and ready to go before you cook the food.
  • Think about composition. Tall food looks best side on where as shallow food can look really good from overhead.
  • Think about the story. What are you trying to say about the food? Include props that convey the meaning behind the food.
  • Experiment and play. There is no right or wrong.

Do you ever take photos of your food?

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing those. Do you think the course was worth it? :)

    • thelifeshemade

      Do I think it was worth it? I guess it depends who you are and how much you know already. I consider myself a novice (a bit more than a beginner) and I thought it was a bit broad. I guess I was expecting to learn more about styling and more of the technical photography stuff. That said, it wasn’t overly expensive and it was a pleasant morning.

      Sent from my iPhone

  • suebthefoodie

    Soup photo is lovely.

    • thelifeshemade

      Im really proud of that one actually, thanks!

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