Learnings from a Food Photography Workshop

The day before my birthday, I spent my time on a food photography workshop moderated by Danielle Tsi. Danielle's style and photos reflect her penchant for natural lighting, non-commercial photography background- fresh and light.

I started very rocky since I got a not-so-prime spot with a few people already crowding the window sill thus no ample light shining on my subjects. I wanted to cry (alright, I'm exaggerating) since my first few shots came out so horrible. The first exercise was about lighting and without a prime spot location by the window and a tripod to balance myself while other students bumping into me, I was destined to fail. 

White styrofoam on left side, lighting on right
After photoshop but still blurry!
After a few minutes when folks started to shift in other tables, I finally wiggled my way to the window sill. Here's the student workspace. 3 picnic-sized tables for 8 students seems to be too crowded.
The second shooting exercise was in making messy foods look pretty. I shall leave this to a styling expert since I have never been fond of shooting messed up looks. Needs to be clutter-free and clean to make it commercially, and just like what chefs do in a fancy restaurant, I have a habit of using a towel to wipe a dot of dirt on the plate before shooting. Here's some messy looks.

biscuits honey overload
need to fix the cheese
choosing a photogenic subject
Let's deconstruct some basic techniques for food photography: lighting, lighting, lighting, capture the moment, diffuse harsh light, and oh did I say lighting? Choose photogenic subjects - juicy, oily, tempting or colorful.

For styling, use  the odd number rule, which looks easier on the eyes, elevation (e.g. a cake stand), balance colors, interesting patterns/napkins/accessories, which also make interesting bokeh.

While at it, one must not forget the powerful prime lens. I use 35mm primarily.

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