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01/16/2010 01:33:21 PM · #1
A friend of mine runs a Japanese restaurant in midtown and asked me to take some food photos. I explained that food photography is its own niche and that he should hire a pro, with pro lighting and a food stylist, etc., but he wanted me to try it and said no harm done if the photos didn't turn out.

The conditions were crazy -- I was in a room between the kitchen and the dining area, where they took calls and boxed up food for deliveries and such. A waiter would drop the food off on his way to the dining room, and I had seconds for 2-3 photos before he would whisk it away to the customer.

I shot with a single flash unit (Sb-800) under bright fluorescents on a small table covered with white paper. I was very disappointed at first in the results but thank God for post-processing, I actually managed to salvage some, I think:

Food portfolio

After two and a half hours, business slowed down and I was able call it a day. My last "assignment" was to eat dinner. I have to say it was unbelievably delicious.

I've ftp'd the high-res versions to the graphic designer and am waiting to see if they can use them. I'd love some feedback.
01/16/2010 01:42:54 PM · #2
That guy should give you a lifetime of free sushi.
Holy crap-you did a good job with the amount of time you had. The food looks REALLY good. He'll be happy for sure

Message edited by author 2010-01-16 13:43:42.
01/16/2010 01:47:58 PM · #3
These look amazing, Larry. For one, I'd like to go eat at that restaurant, so I guess you achieved what you were supposed to.

Considering the conditions you did an awesome job. If I wanted to critique - the depth of field is confusing to the eye on some images. I feel, either less shallow, or put the focus in the bottom third of the photo. My eyeballs got confused. Also, a few of the first images are a little heavy on saturation - in my opinion, of course.

That said, I love the lighting, the plain white surrounding and the angles you chose. Your restaurant buddy scored big time with these photos. Great job!!!
01/16/2010 01:52:28 PM · #4
Thanks for the feedback, John and Alicia. Not too critical at all -- just the sort of support and suggestions I hoped for.

PS: Joe, thanks for your comment on this photo:
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It is probably my favorite as well. I think I got better as the evening wore on, partly because I began to take control of the shoot. Originally my friend wanted them overhead "like the last guy did it", but eventually I worked my way closer, figured out which of my lenses was producing the best images, and made the waiters stand by a little longer!



Message edited by author 2010-01-16 13:54:58.
01/16/2010 04:16:33 PM · #5
you done your friend good IMO

nice work !


01/16/2010 05:03:11 PM · #6
Very good shots.
01/16/2010 05:24:50 PM · #7
If more asian restaurants had pictures like those in their windows they'd get more business :-) They look great!
01/16/2010 05:31:16 PM · #8
I think the lighting and dof are nice on most of them. However what I find distracting is the camera angle. For me, I would have enjoyed a lower camera angle to accent the food more. I know in real life we look down on the food. but it looks so much better if it is eye level.
01/16/2010 05:44:08 PM · #9
I think they look fantastic. Really beautiful work.

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My favorite

As for split seconds to get a decent shot...welcome to my world!

Every dish in this shoot for The Blue Ribbon was on it's way to a customer, like yours. I hijacked them for a few seconds to set up background props (chopsticks, wine/beer glasses, saki cup, teapot, salt/pepper shakers etc.) and blasted away and it ain't easy. The waiters were bummed but what could you do...?

Again, you did a great job. Cheers!

Originally posted by littlegett:

I think the lighting and dof are nice on most of them. However what I find distracting is the camera angle. For me, I would have enjoyed a lower camera angle to accent the food more. I know in real life we look down on the food. but it looks so much better if it is eye level.


It depends on what they are being used for. If they are for a McDonalds like purpose where people need to see every item or exact ingredients that's one thing but there's also editorial work where the images can be more dreamy, some information is left to the imagination. People that know and love food don't need to see sharp grains of rice to correctly identify them on the back of a plate. In short, it depends on how much you need to educate your audience to what is on the plate.

Message edited by author 2010-01-16 18:00:11.
01/16/2010 06:26:11 PM · #10
I agree with the general consenus - these look very professional.
01/16/2010 07:59:21 PM · #11
Originally posted by pawdrix:



Originally posted by littlegett:

I think the lighting and dof are nice on most of them. However what I find distracting is the camera angle. For me, I would have enjoyed a lower camera angle to accent the food more. I know in real life we look down on the food. but it looks so much better if it is eye level.


It depends on what they are being used for. If they are for a McDonalds like purpose where people need to see every item or exact ingredients that's one thing but there's also editorial work where the images can be more dreamy, some information is left to the imagination. People that know and love food don't need to see sharp grains of rice to correctly identify them on the back of a plate. In short, it depends on how much you need to educate your audience to what is on the plate.


I don't see where I said every grain of rice needed to be in focus. But you are right, it always depends on the final application.
01/16/2010 09:18:10 PM · #12
Here's my first (other than playing around). My husband made Tyler Florence's beef wellington & I documented the process.

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Yes, it was as good as it looked, AND a much better picture than what is posted on the Food Network if I do say so myself. I was thinking that they should invite people to post photos of the FN recipes that they try... maybe even do a contest or something.
01/19/2010 10:53:08 PM · #13
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Just an update... the restaurant owner and the graphic designer each liked the photos, so they are going to select some (I don't know how many), and I got paid for the shoot. My first paid gig. :-)

Oh, and I re-did the first shot in my food portfolio to make the colors less fake, as suggested, and though I didn't replace the shot in the portfolio I did send the replacement to the printer for consideration.

Thanks again for the nice comments and the PMs as well.




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