September 6, 2012

Exercises In Food Photography #5 : Adding Some Life To Your Photograph!

L
ast month I had promised that I would have an exciting theme for this month’s exercise. I’m sorry but I have to postpone that particular theme to the next month, because I haven’t been able to take the photographs for it as yet. It’s a theme that will require a decent amount of light, and given the way it has been pouring here this past month, good light is something I haven’t had much of. Hopefully this month the sun should finally make its presence felt and I will be able to take those pictures!
That’s not to say this month’s theme is not fun. It might be a little more challenging because you will have find willing models to pose for you, since this month’s theme is about “adding some life” to your food photography.
Most of us, me included, tend to take photographs of food in well thought out (and sometimes not so well thought out!) settings, table ware and props. However introducing a bit of life or a human element can take them to a different level, making  them more appealing and filled with warmth as compared to “still life” sort of food photography which is the norm.
I haven’t taken too many of these simply because my two readily available models though quite obliging, are not always around or free to pose and help me out when I ‘m usually taking my photographs. Sometimes I think it’s too much of a coincidence that it is when I need them they suddenly seem to get very busy with other things which must be done just then!
I once remember reading a comment someone left on a blog a couple of years back. It was a discussion about food photography and the lady who left the comment said she wasn’t much of a fan of food photographs where everything was styled/ arranged as it looked very unnatural to her. I believe the phrase she used was "staged food photography".
I thought she had a somewhat valid point there, even though different styles appeal to different people. I know that I don’t like those stock photographs where a person (or people) look very posed, with a smile showing perfect teeth and looking like they were trying to sell you some food. Yet this is good photography and there is a market for it like in magazines and advertisements.


 
Fresh Strawberries
(Taken with a 50mm f/1.8 lens at aperture – f/ 3.2, shutterspeed – 1/25s and ISO – 200)


What I’m talking about photographs where the food is the main focus,  with a suggestion of human presence in the photograph.  Imagine a photograph where a steaming hot cup of coffee/ tea is on the table and another where the cup is in someone’s hand suggesting it is about to be drunk. To my mind, the second situation lends a more personal feel which has an appeal that the first one doesn’t. Now this appeal might not be there in every situation in food photography, but it is a style of food photography that is worth exploring.

So this month’s theme is about adding some “life” to your food photographs and this involves taking photographs where food is the main focus of the photograph, with a human element that doesn’t distract from the food. So spend a little time thinking how you could do this and then do your photography. Consider situations where someone is eating a cookie, taking a bite of cake or a fruit, pouring out tea/ coffee/ milk/ juice, pouring honey over pancakes or waffles, rolling our pastry or dough, etc.
 

Eating Kulfi (Indian Ice-cream) At The Fair
(Taken with a 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens at aperture – f/ 5.6, shutterspeed – 1/640s and ISO – 400)
This was taken some time back when my daughter and I went to visit a yearly exhibition-cum-fair of traditional Indian crafts, folk dances and food. This Kulfi (a creamy and milky Indian ice-cream) and Kachoris (a stuffed deep-fried pastry) are a must-do for us.

 
Beaten Rice Flake Cookies
(Taken with a 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens at aperture – f/ 5.6, shutterspeed – 3.2s and ISO – 100)
A baking experiment that turned out nice but not quite the way I wanted them to be – making cookies with beaten rice flakes (aval/ poha). They need to be improved upon and the recipe needs some more tweaking…..
 

Green Amaranth Leaves
(Taken with a 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens at aperture – f/ 5.0, shutterspeed – 1/80s and ISO – 200)
No, these weren’t a peace offering nor did he bring them in place of flowers! He was just obliging enough to spend a part of the morning holding them for me till I found the “right” angle to shoot these amaranth leaves. 

 

What You Have To Do To Join In: 
 

1.          Take one (or more if you would like to do so) of any food of your choice but there must be a clear presence of some human element in your photograph. Please put some thought into your composition and angle of shooting so that the food is the focus of your compositon and the human element complements it. As always, do try and use Manual settings if you can.  

2.         Post the photograph(s) and details about them on you blog, with details about the shot.   I see some people posting, “this photograph is for the photography exercise at …………..” and that’s about it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but the purpose of this series is to also share how you composed and shot your photograph so others could perhaps learn from you.  

3.         Please ensure that you link back to this post/ page in your blog post. Then add the link to your Photography Exercise post using the Simply Linked Widget that appears at the bottom of this post. This will direct readers to you blog and allow them to read your post.  Please make sure that the text in your link is correct otherwise no one would be able to reach your post.
 If you do not have a blog, then upload your photographs on Flickr or any other hosting site and then use the link of that photograph in the Widget.
The usual 3 week period for doing this exercise stands so the deadline for this exercise shall be the 30th of September, 2012. I’m looking forward to seeing all your photographs. Happy shooting!

May I request you all to please, please visit fellow photographers involved in this exercise and give them your feedback and criticism (as you see it) because this is one more way of improving ones skills and craft. You are most welcome to critique my photographs as well.
If you have any doubts or need any clarifications about this exercise, please leave a comment at the end of this post and I'll get back to you. 

On an aside, I just wanted to mention that I have been approached to conduct a 2 day workshop on the Basics of Food Photography. The workshop would be sometime in mid-late November at Chennai, and limited to a batch of 15 people.
If you would be interested in participating, please leave a comment on this post or e-mail me at aparna(at)mydiversekitche(dot)com for further details. Thanks.


Other Exercises In This Series:


Exercises In Food Photography #1 : Aperture and DoF

Exercises In Food Photography #2 : Less Is More, So Let’s Keep It Simple!


Exercises In Food Photography #3 : Overhead Food Shots – A View From Above

Exercises In Food Photography #4 : Feature Just One Ingredient!


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