Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Food Preparation Photography, Part 1

Fatigman Making 1
Fatigman Making 1; Canon 30D, Sigma 30mm f/1.4

Recently I've been expanding my food photography to include food preparation as well as the finished product. With photography of finished, prepared food, one is photographing the food as an object, making it look attractive, well prepared, well presented, well lit, etc. This can be very satisfying. However, I also find two aspects of food preparation equally as satisfying, although in a very different way. This post, part 1 of 2, will consider the first aspect.

Fatigman Making 2
Fatigman Making 2; Canon 30D, Sigma 30mm f/1.4

This first aspect of food prep photography is the human element. Well-made food does not appear from nowhere; it is a created thing, and the process of creation can be as beautiful as the finished product, as well as being both more active and more human. Capturing this requires a slightly different approach than normal food photography. First, ideally not just the food is the focus, but also the creator of the food. Second, both the introduction of this human element and the fact that food prep is an ongoing process, means that the photographic approach is much more like sports or wildlife photography; the focus is on capturing the 'moment' when magic happens. So, while I get out my light stand and flash and flash modifiers when photographing the finished work, so far I have not done that for prep shots; mostly because of lack of space, lack of time to adjust the flashes, and desire to not annoy the cook with a flash.

Pork Pie Making Double Exposure
Pork Pie Making (Double Exposure); Olympus 35RC, Ilford Delta 400, Ilford DD-X

The first two photos in this post are examples of trying (and succeeding, I think) to capture that moment. The third lacks the immediacy and action of the first two, but emphasizes the human element. The overlapped exposure was accidental (winding problems), but since I took two similar photos one after the other, the effect ended up being great.

Some more examples of capturing 'the moment' are these two photographs of people slicing things. For these, I wanted the moment in the middle of slicing, where the new slice is separating from the whole piece; this emphasizes the ongoing action.

Slicing Sprouts Color
Slicing Sprouts Color; Canon 30D, Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8

Slicing Salami
Slicing Salami; Canon 30D, Sigma 30mm f/1.4

Finally, often the utensils and implements used have a beauty of their own that's worth capturing; this was the idea for the last photo in this post.

Fatigman Making Aftermath
Fatigman Making Aftermath; Canon 30D, Sigma 30mm f/1.4

Part 2 will address the other aspect of food prep photography I find interesting.

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