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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Food Photography: Tips and Tricks the Pros Use

by NYI Instructor Karen Schuld

Karen Schuld is an NYIP Instructor and began her career as a still-life and food photographer in New York City. Her approach is to rely on instinct plus the photographic skills she has developed throughout her career. Major corporations, such as Colgate-Palmolive Company, Revlon, and Procter & Gamble commissioned her to create looks unique to their products. She gives every shot a natural, not contrived, look. For samples from Karen, visit and Sprouts in the Hood.

One thing I have learned over the years is that it is easy for a photographer to make food look bland and tasteless. But, of course, the goal of a food photographer is to make the viewer desire the subject of your shot. Making food look appetizing requires a knack for styling, a careful eye for detail, and an ability to use light in a way that will bring romance and drama to your subject. Here are some tips and suggestions that can enable you to achieve a photograph that will whet the imagination — and the appetite — of the viewer.

While some photographers approach food shots in a static way by carefully contriving the shot, I prefer a more free-flowing, spontaneous approach to styling. As I shoot, I rearrange the food as often as it takes to get the right look. I view the plate as my canvas, and the food as my medium. Just as with any photograph, I try to achieve a design that draws the viewer's attention to my subject — in this case, the food. But, in shooting food, my goal is also to create a whimsical, playful design that juxtaposes unexpected colors and textures. For example, I toss herbs onto an entrée to add zest or include colorful fruit to achieve a more vibrant shot. The way I position myself and my camera also enhances the flow of the shot. While I sometimes shoot food large format with a tripod, I prefer shooting with my DSLR. It leaves me freer to move around my canvas and experiment with different camera positions and angles.

Food that looks fresh is appealing to a viewer; so it is important make your food look natural and not too staged. You should constantly check that your food stays fresh. Greens tend to wilt quickly. Meat can start to look exceedingly dry if you're not careful. A little water spritz can add moisture to your food, while steam can give it a "hot out of the oven" look. If you are a beginner, it can be beneficial to work with an experienced food stylist. A stylist can prepare your food so it is photo-ready and can bring another set of eyes to the set.

A good photographer always pays attention to detail. For any photograph to be successful, the photographer must select the right props and surfaces. Food photography is no exception. Choosing a special location or creating a staged environment for your subject can greatly enhance your shot. Choosing the right plate, bowl, glass or cutlery can also significantly improve the look of your shot. When you shoot food, it is important to choose a color scheme that that will complement the color or character of the food. A black background can intensify the color of a dish, while shooting on a white background will always create a clean look. Also, be aware that cuisine and culture go hand in hand, so document food by covering a region's people, markets, restaurants, and special dishes. Consider shooting a series of both close-up, medium, and wide shots that begins with the ingredients and ends with final food presentation.

Lighting is key to setting the mood for your photograph. Whether your concept requires drama or mystery, excitement or stability, you must carefully consider the lighting that will work for the situation. Use lighting you feel comfortable with. Natural light can work well with food but artificial light gives you more control over the look of the shot. A backlight with a little fill can make your food look luscious, while a sidelight can show texture and depth. It is very helpful to use a "stand in" entrée while you set up your lights, to get just the right atmosphere.

In conclusion, it is important that you spend adequate time preparing to ensure that you have the right foods, props, surfaces, lighting setup and personnel to make the shoot successful. It is essential to focus on styling and attend to all the details involved in the shot. Although there is no one right way to plan, style, light, and shoot food, always keep in mind that the end goal is to make your food look fresh, colorful, dramatic and, hence, appealing to the appetite. Your final shot should be one that stimulates the senses.


Monday, 4 July 2011

31 Photography Quotes by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams photo
Ansel Adams photo
Ansel Adams was a great American photographer, most well known as a master landscape artist. Most of his photographs depict natural landscapes of the American west.  Born in San Francisco in 1902, Ansel Adams trained as a concert pianist before deciding to become photographer. He became famous for the technical skill with which he produced spectacular images of the American landscape.  He advocated straight and un-manipulated photography.  His works were exhibited all around the country, and he helped establish the department of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1940, and was awarded a number of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation to photograph National Parks in America.
Influential as both a teacher and lecturer, he was also an avid conservationist. He published many books of his images, and also technical and training guides to teach beginning photographers. In 1980, Ansel Adams was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States.
Throughout his long and storied career, he also was frequently quoted about photography, and often conservation of our natural resources.  Following are some of his simple, though often deep, quotations, sourced from

  1. “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
  2. “A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”
  3. “A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.”
  4. “A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.”
  5. “Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.”
  6. “I tried to keep both arts alive, but the camera won. I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can!”
  7. “In my mind’s eye, I visualize how a particular… sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.”
  8. “In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”
  9. “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”
  10. “It is my intention to present – through the medium of photography – intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators.”
  11. “Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.”
  12. “Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit.”
  13. “No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”
  14. “Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.”
  15. “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.”
  16. “Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.”
  17. “Some photographers take reality… and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.”
  18. “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”
  19. “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.”
  20. “The only things in my life that compatibly exists with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit.”
  21. “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
  22. “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
  23. “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”
  24. “These people live again in print as intensely as when their images were captured on old dry plates of sixty years ago… I am walking in their alleys, standing in their rooms and sheds and workshops, looking in and out of their windows. Any they in turn seem to be aware of me.”
  25. “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.”
  26. “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”
  27. “We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium.”
  28. “When I’m ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I’m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.
  29. “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
  30. “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”
  31. “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

If you found this article stimulating then you’ll probably like  The Making of 40 Photographsby Ansel Adams. 

Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America's Wild Places Yosemite and the High Sierra The Ansel Adams Guide: Basic Techniques of Photography - Book 1 (Ansel Adams's Guide to the Basic Techniques of Photography)