Food Photography: An Adventure in Flavor
DashCrowd is a full-service partner for bars & restaurants. This often means our duties are somewhat undefined but allows us to help clients on a more personal, custom-tailored level. If you follow us on Facebook & Twitter, you’ve surely picked-up on our close relationship with Faces & Names, one of our very first clients. Partially attributed to its proximity to our office and partially due to the owner’s willingness to experiment, we’ve turned a simple website contract into a mutually-beneficial business friendship. Over the past year, DashCrowd has managed projects ranging from WiFi optimization to digital signage installation to event promotion for this client. Recently, we were asked to do some casual food photography for them and jumped at the opportunity.
Capturing the essence of this top-notch bar fare was a huge responsibility. Faces & Names has built quite a reputation for itself over the past 15 years for incredibly delicious food and it was our job to translate that signature flavor to a mere jpeg image. Mind you, although this wasn’t our first rodeo, we are by no means professional food photographers. But this is what we do for our clients—dive in, figure it out and make it happen.
Food photography can often be very elaborate, depending on the restaurant. You’ll commonly see pictures with fresh ingredients in the background and some even go as far as building-up their dishes with fillers, artificial (photogenic) elements, airbrushing, etc. It’s important to consider the establishment you’re shooting for. Faces & Names is a well-known, upscale lounge in Midtown Manhattan. They have a large pool of regular customers and repeat business. For us, our task was to portray this menu in a realistic (although flattering) light without unnecessary frills or devious tactics of any kind.
You don’t need much to make great food look good. In our equipment bag, we brought:
- Canon Digital SLR Camera
- Tokina Macro Lens
- Manfrotto Tripod
- Lowel Ego Tabletop Fluorescent Softlight
- Lowel White Bounce Card
- Spray Bottle / Water
- 40’ Extension Cord
We arrived at the bar at noon and setup in the back lounge. Jose, the head chef, was ready and waiting. Throughout the afternoon, about 30 plates were delivered from the kitchen one by one in no particular order. One minute, we’d be snapping shots of mini burgers and the next a slice of pie. Server Lisa volunteered to make an impressive selection of artificial drinks to accompany the dishes. Jose’s food presentation was simple yet tantalizing, which allowed our team to focus solely on the photo production. It’s always helpful when the staff is behind the end goal of a project like this.
The tripod was positioned low to the table, slightly downward-facing and didn’t move much throughout the shoot. The Lowel light was intense and relatively close to the dishes. With a properly adjusted aperture, we were able to capture some truly unique & colorful shots that stand apart from your traditional food photography. Perhaps we felt each snap was pure gold or perhaps the dishes were coming out too quickly, but we opted to only take a small handful of pictures for each menu item. Although this gave us fewer options to work with back at the office later on, it seems we got lucky and it paid off in the end. A couple of the dishes, mostly salads and vegetable-heavy creations, called for a tasteful spritz from our water bottle. The tiny beads of water created a scrumptious scene with glimmering texture.
There is no doubt we still have a lot to learn when it comes to food photography. As mentioned above, not every restaurant should adhere to the same style, either. Perhaps it’s an art form never quite perfected but rather one that can be studied and practiced to the satisfaction of each client. We are grateful for the opportunity Faces & Names has given us to further hone our craft to the benefit of their establishment, their customers and our other clients.
Over the past year, Faces has become one of our favorite places to eat, adding a personal responsibility to visually represent their food to be as scrumptious as it tastes in real life. All in all, our photo shoot was a big success and we’re certain you’ll agree this modest midtown spot offers so much more than predictable bar grub.