Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Behind The Scenes
Styling a product photograph for your reading and viewing pleasure.
Every week I get a bunch of emails. Most of them ask just about the same thing: We are coming to Boston and want to know where to eat? They generally come from the Midwest or farther. This week I received one from Ann Kildahl in Minneapolis who shared with me her favorite restaurant in her city. Here's the link: Lucia's Restaurant. I love getting these. It's so cool to know that wherever I go in this world I've got friends who set me up with the best places to dine and shop.
I did, however, receive two unusual emails this week. One asked me who does my "professional photographs". The other asked me how I put everything together to make the blog look so good. These are the kinds of emails that bloggers live for! This is certainly a work in progress but I do have to admit that over the past year since I've started I have made many improvements. One of them was the photographs. It did not take me long after starting to realize that a picture is still worth a thousand words. I almost immediately began asking other bloggers what kind of cameras they use and was advised all around to get one that does great close-ups. I use a Canon Power Shot, very affordable, takes great shots and it's so easy to use.
Different color backgrounds will sometimes dramatically change the outcome.
I have studied photography for years, reading lots of books, Modern Photography Magazine and taking several courses. One of the subjects that always interested me, long before the blog, was the career of photographic stylist. I had no idea that it was a full time career styling food photographs the same way fashion shoots are styled. Food stylists work mostly setting up all of the shots for advertising and commercial photography, basically making all of the client's food products look good. There are all kinds of tricks of the trade and all sorts of legal requirements for ads due to truth in advertising laws (no more using mashed potato and food coloring for ice cream shots so nothing melts). Just Google food stylists and you can read for hours. It's fascinating. And the advent of digital photography has actually made the job of the food stylist easier. There are no more hot lights required, which can affect the food being photographed as in the case of the aforementioned ice cream, chocolate or anything that melts under warm lighting.
The final result.
I "style" all of my own product photographs. The "professional" comment was prompted by my photographs of the Aria olive oil product in a recent post. Here are the shots you didn't see. Not as easy as it looks is it? Some of the tricks I've learned from reading is to make the presentation look as perfect as possible one needs to be precise. Stylists often resort to some strange tools. I recently used an ear dropper to make perfect dots of balsamic reduction on my plate for photographs of amuse bouche!
Dot ... dot ... dot ... using an eyedropper for perfect plate presentation.
The final result.
The other tools are my Asus laptop, mini recorder and headphones. The Asus, at about the size and weight of a hardcover novel (actually lighter in weight I think) is the ultimate in portable. The recorder I use for quotes from interview subjects. I've learned that my words rarely beat the authentic quotes of the person being interviewed so I want to get them right. With these tools of the trade I can interview someone or review something - like a restaurant - complete with photos, transcribe everything, write the blog and post it all on the go with wireless wifi. Who needs offices anymore?
Tools of the trade: mini recorder and headphones and lightweight wireless laptop for editing and publishing on the go, like from coffee shops!
Well....thanks for asking and thanks for the emails!