Last Sunday we finally got a chance to shoot the Garlic Clove Foods products in their cooked/prepared versions. In the photo up above are the grains out of the packages and placed into a light box. The photos below were taken in Dean and Amy’s backyard.

We arrived at 10:30 and immediately started shooting. We were outdoors in the backyard and we didn’t use anything but natural light for the food. I know – us, using natural light! Crazy huh? Actually – as much as it seems like I don’t like natural light photographers – I just don’t like the ones who don’t know how to work with the sun and instead use it as an ‘excuse’ to create bad photos rather than a light source… but that’s a whole other rant.

For most of the shoot there were clouds hanging around which did a great job of diffusing the light just enough to power down the sun but still create nice shadows on the table. Now you can always push enough light to get rid of all shadows and make a really clean photo – but with food that’s not what I want. I don’t want it completely ‘clean’ because it doesn’t necessarily look sterile, but it adds that sterile feeling – and I don’t want food photos to look or feel sterile.

Of course you can’t have a big messy plate of food just plopped down with a spoon. But you can warm up the photo and give it context and set it down in a setting where it looks like it would actually be eaten – and not just a white background with some glowing soft light. Of course, I like to photograph people so maybe I’m just completely out of my realm here and shouldn’t be saying anything at all.


This is a wide shot of Leah helping me test out our light setup for when we shot Dean and Amy with their kids. Since I’m mostly a strobist photographer – here’s the strobist info:

  • Sun diffused through clouds in the upper left
  • Umbrella’d 285hv camera right (you can see the tip of the umbrella)
  • a bare Vivitar 2600 in the back right corner – that’s what’s lighting up the side of Leah’s face


Aside from all of the technical light stuff you normally have to worry about when making photographs – with food it’s even more important that you get a good composition with interesting lines, shapes, and textures. All of those.

And I didn’t just want to shoot the same 3/4 circle-plate overhead shot. You know what I’m talking about. The ones that started out as artsy but is now food-photos-by-numbers.

Yeah. I didn’t want to just get those shots – and when I did, I always tried to add some other items that would just barely edge into the photo. Sure you want to emphasize the specific dish – but not if it’s an uninteresting photo. Because then you end up with a photo that focuses on the product but that no one gives a second thought. Of course – there are examples where this is just wrong.

We have to admit – we’re not food stylist and we probably couldn’t have cooked all of the food to make it look anywhere near as delicious. That’s all Amy’s doing and she did a great job. Sure, we moved plates, silverware, and glass – but come on, if the food looked bad… it would take a lot more work. I’m not saying that it would be impossible – because I’m pretty confident we can make most objects look good – but a lot of the work in the cooked food photos was already done for us.


Since this was all real food and not just pretend food – we all sat down to lunch afterwards.

Still. Here comes November and more photo shoots.

3 Replies to “Food Photos

  1. funny. I don't really like strobist stuff. looks too artificial 😉

    pizza friday?!!

  2. I LOVE using strobes & natural light – any new way that I can make an ordinary image extraordinary – I'm all about it! Great post – thanks for sharing!

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