Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lemons to Lemonade

What do you do when a food stylist brings you lemons? … make lemonade.

With most food photography, especially editorial or feature shots, I look to create a scene that tells a story. Mine was a hot bright summer day with light bathing a picnic table into pale tones, allowing the lemons to dominate the color palette.

I needed the right props, clear, not plain, and translucent to allow the light coming through, giving interest to any textures of the glass. A chat with the food stylist helped to produce an assortment. On set, with my camera tethered to a larger monitor, I could see how the props would look, judge their size, color and their relationship to each other.

Much like doing a model's test shoot, one can see if a prop has a photogenic quality. Placing them all together on the set, and getting an overall shot, I picked out the "stars". My lighting was not yet the issue, although I had a general sense of what I wanted, I would deal with the technical part later.

Props selected, I began moving them around in various positions, until a pleasing composition took shape. At that point I created the lighting carefully measured for the effect I wanted. Once in place, it was now time to call on the stylist and bring in the real food product. Sometimes a stand in is used for cases where a particular food can't sit long, even fresh lemons.

There are some shoots where it may not seem like very much is needed and the reason for hiring a stylist is questionable, but there is a big difference between having and not having one on set.  What may seem like a small effort needed, really isn't and doesn't go unnoticed by the camera once done. The placement of the lemons on the right, and the twisted slices in the glass and pitcher in the final shot is a good example. A good stylist can take your directions from how the shot looks from your camera's angle, and your point of view. They know how to primp and play the product into your frame. A great stylist offers positive suggestions, some alternatives and puts their mark on the shot like brush strokes on a painting. The nuances a good stylist can add are well worth having them on the shoot.

Moving along, slight changes take place including camera angles and some alternate light variations. A move here and there, an addition to or a take away from brings the shot together.... and sometimes a happy accident brings a surprise that makes the shot... like Dropping the straws

My thanks to Ellie Stern Food Stylist


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

They wanted me to shoot Bronzino...

I was hired to shoot Bronzino. I didn't know what he did or what he "didn't do" to call me in. All they told me is that he was coming that morning from either Greece or Italy in the Mediterranean. After the shoot they would put him in "The Freezer"

I set it up that day and waited. They brought him over. I grabbed him and wrestled him onto table. He was slippery but cooperative and we all knew what was to happen next. It didn't take too long despite the fact that I had to take a few shots....

This is Bronzino,a fish. I shoot Food. I'm also the fish guy

 who has
" The Fish Series..." an ongoing art project that is now showing some images with the "Works in Progress"  photo show, as part of the Miami Visual Collective,  appearing at the Jorge Hullian Gallery , 5864 Sunset Drive,South Miami, FL.

So it would be a perfect fit that I should shoot an assignment involving fish. My client had just that in mind when he called. They are one of the best fresh fish providers in the state, supplying top chefs and high end restaurants with both known and some unusual fish from different parts of the world. Bronzini was one of them.

The director of this job couldn't be on location but we kept  communicating by posting images live online as we shot them. With me, besides my assistant, was the designer and owner, watching the monitor as images appeared and after some careful time for initial approvals on backgrounds colors etc, we went on to execute my mission.

It doesn't get any fresher than this by setting it up on location. Full scale lighting for such small colorful items help make them clean and makes their colors sparkle. Styling them is another challenge and sometimes the simpler something looks the harder it is. Luckily my sous chef experience comes into play as this time we didn't bring in one of the great food stylists I work with. This job presented its own set of challenges and time constraints but that's part of the job and why I love it. 

PS. my wife made me sleep on the couch that night.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cooking it is fun. Shooting it is fun. Eating it is funner.

Ingredients: Minced ginger, chopped garlic, sliced onions, sliced red peppers, broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, pineapples chunks, bay or sea scallops... sauted in peanut oil...sesami oil added after...stir in coconut milk to heat.

Boil Flat Shanghai noodles separately,drained and added to mix. Add Soy sauce to taste or sweet and sour.  Ratio and amounts of ingredients depend on likes and amount of guests.