Whenever I tell people I’m a food photographer they immediately have tons of questions. Do I add motor oil to the food? How did I get to where I am now? So how did I get here and what does it look like to go behind the scenes with a food photographer?
So where did I start?
I’ve always loved food but let’s be honest, I didn’t start with taking food photos. Like so many, I started photographing people. If you asked my parents they’d tell you my first real photos were of a wedding when I was around the age of 10. At least that’s when they decided I needed my own camera. As I progressed so did my skills and when I first started working as a professional photographer I shot lots of weddings, portraits, album covers and a few product photos. Along the way, I realized the most important skill of all to master, aside from communication with clients, is reading and manipulating light.
Moving to France
When I moved to France I decided to pivot and lean into commercial product photography. No more weddings. It’s a way of bringing more creativity into my work and even a little of my university years where I built sets for my shoots. I love product photography but my love of food ultimately won out pushing me further into my craft. Food and wine are part of the magnetic force that draw the world to France, myself included.
What goes into food photography?
Many don’t imagine it but food and wine are some of the toughest subjects to photograph. They don’t move like people do but food has a shelf life that shows. Wine glasses reflect every speck of light and every fingerprint. There’s steam, there’s cold… There’s a lot to consider.
So what does it look like behind the scenes of a food photography set? Well, the truth is, it can look pretty different from one day to the next. It’s part of the excitement of the job. When you hire a food photographer, they might just come into a restaurant and work with the chefs, maybe a food stylist and use what’s available just finding and adding little pops of light to get the right mood.
Still other times you’re going to find a lot more goes into it. Behind the scenes often times you’re going to be creating a mood by using surfaces, textures, creating a setting that allows the viewer to feel like they’re somewhere other than a studio. Food Photographers are like suisse army knives. We build sets, manage props, make you feel like there’s late summer light streaming through the window even in January and it all comes together with the food. You might find a little glycerin spray, maybe a little shine from olive oil here and there, but for the most part, inedible foods are becoming outdated and it’s more about visual storytelling with the edible goods.
Keep scrolling and I’ve posted a pullback taken after I finished shooting this panna cotta so you can see just how I created this late summer light streaming through the window in a provencal kitchen.
I’d love to hear what you think and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments!