Episode 17 Show Notes: Food Photography ft. Charlie McDonald

Peggy Farren 2016-12-31

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Here are the show notes for episode 17 of The Understand Photography Show:

Four Weeks to Proficiency in Photography - The next class begins January 17. Truly knowing photography is a great gift for yourself or someone in your life! Check out our free webinar video to learn about what you need to know and to experience Peggy's teaching style! https://understandphotography.leadpages.co/4-weeks-photography-education-video/

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Charlie McDonald, on food photography:
"Make it part of your journey, make it part of your travel. It becomes a part of the experience."

What is the relation between food photography and travel? The local cuisine!

For lighting: During the day, request a table next to the window or outside. At night time, there is not an opportunity for that perfect light. However, there are different types of light that you can use:
- Sometimes, the sconce lighting coming down on the table sheds warm light on the food.
- Your cell phone's built-in flash can be too harsh and can kill the ambience. However, you can try to back away and zoom in a bit to allow the light to shine on the food. Be sure to include different sources of light (above, around).
- Cell phones also have flashlights. Someone with you can hold their phone with flashlight to the side to help achieve a "studio" type of lighting that will allow your photos to portray the texture.

Composition is extremely important!

- Arrange photos along diagonals and on the power points of the rule of thirds.
- Fold up a napkin to prop up the plate. This can also help to see the food and include the background.
- Turn your camera different ways and shoot from different angles, both above and below.
- Rotate the plate to make the subject more interesting.
- Use composition to control depth of field.
- To make food look big, go up closer to the food.

Set the scene! Include the whole experience by taking photos of the restaurant front, a server with tray of drinks, the background, a centerpiece, a beverage with fruit decoration, etc.

Charlie's top tips for food photography:

  1. Photograph the food when it comes out, when it's fresh, glistening, steaming.
  2. Go close and get the details. Shoot in tight for the food.
  3. Go wide for the ambience to set the scene.
  4. Try to get some kind of side lighting to avoid losing texture; try to make a two-dimensional photo as three-dimensional as possible.
  5. Post-processing: Generally, you want to bump up the contrast (to add "punch" and depth). Increase the vibrance/saturation. For dreamy/soft foods, you can use the clarity slider to achieve a softer/dreamier look. Adjust the composition if necessary by cropping and potentially tilting or rotating.
Charlie's favorite lenses:
- A portrait lens, 105mm prime lens for a shallow depth-of-field.
- A 28-70mm zoom lens.

Contact Charlie McDonald:

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Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, instructor, writer and speaker.

With over 17 years as a full-time professional photographer, Peggy offers photography training through her training center, “Understand Photography”.

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