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Shooting Food/Restaurant & Costs

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by JMASTERJ, May 2, 2017.


    JMASTERJ Member

    Hey guys!

    1. I have heard so much about how hard it is to shoot food, in a restaurant atmosphere, not studio. What are some of the top keys to make it look "good" and give that pro vibe with minimal equipment?

    2. If need be, what is the standard going rate for you pros who have good experience shooting food/restaurants so they have enough pics for a website and some offline marketing? I understand this can vary so please give a range if you feel more comfy with that, or send me a PM is need be, I just need some idea!

  2. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I don't know if you noticed but the name of this website is AMATEUR photographer. I'm not saying there aren't people here who consider themselves pros, but I wouldn't have thought this particular site would be the most obvious first port of call looking for PRO advice.

    Anyway, it's generally not that hard to shoot food in a restaurant atmosphere so long as you have the permission of the restaurant owner. You just wait until service is over and incorporate a few randomers to act as customers...paying them or not is obviously negotiable. And then, just like shooting anything else, you have to assess the room, the lighting and your available equipment. Preferably before you pitch up for the shoot. I'd recommend a macro lens, a good midrange zoom, a tripod, a reflector, a couple of flash lights and triggers to help balance indoor/outdoor light levels, and some kind of translucent material (bubble wrap/greaseproof paper/net curtains/parchment) to help diffuse light coming in from windows. Gels for your flash if you have mixed light sources messing things ups. Hidden teabags that you've soaked and microwaved if you need instant steam to make cold food look hot. You will also want to spend some considerable time cleaning things because the camera will pick up every speck of dust on cutlery, every crease on a napkin, every watermark and fingerprint on a glass and it's easier to clean the things in situ than try to sort in post. Make sure you have a selection of microfibre dusters and a spray bottle of water. Can be used to dampen things to clean them and to spray on food to make it look less dried out. Waiters and waitresses are not photographers and will polish things till they look good enough, not till they look good enough on camera. What you charge should be an hourly or daily rate that covers all your expenses, including travel, insurance, annual cost of maintaining equipment, training etc etc etc and not forgetting to account for time spent editing and sharing the files. I can't see how that could possibly cost less than about £30/hour to be honest and that's with absolutely minimal overheads.

    Oh, yes...reflections. YOu may want a circular polariser to twiddle with because restaurants tend to be full of reflective surfaces like glasses, steel, chrome, mirrors, windows and so on. Keep an eye on those. You don't necessarily want to be in every shot!
    EightBitTony likes this.
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    1. Experience.
    2.There won't be a going rate. As for any specialised activity the price will be job specific. All you can do is get some proposals. I wouldn't know where to look for professional food photographers, probably you need to go to advertisement agency or look at credits given in food/cookery/travel magazines/Sunday supplements etc.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  4. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I draw the learned lady's attention to the first two words of the post. 'Nuff said?
    Geren likes this.

    JMASTERJ Member

    Lots good tips, thanks.... I assumed it was a daunting task, but wanted some info to see how much so.

    And I dont understand, this site is only amateurs giving advice and chatting with amateurs? Sorry I assumed that there were pros here giving advice to mostly amateurs like me. You seem to know a whole lot for an amateur, kudos.

    What are you saying? Do u have any input to my OP or........?
  6. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    1: Look at a LOT of food pictures. Work out how they were set up and lit, and if you could do the same. If you can't do this, you aren't ready to try it for yourself. Read a few books on food photography: for example, the one from Rotovision. Alas this was a flat-fee book so I'm not promoting it in the interests of royalties!

    2: To whom are you planning to sell your pictures?

    3: What do you consider to be "minimal equipment?"

    4: As others have said, there is no "going rate"

    5: With a lot of experience of food photography, I have to say that when I was doing it, I avoided restaurants that were open to the public at the time. You need to work with the chef, which is not easy when the restaurant is open; you need space for the lighting; you need to avoid irritating the other customers... When I wrote Sushi with Katsuji Yamamoto, he closed his restaurant when we were shooting.

    6: How much do you know about styling? It is DIFFICULT.

    7: Are you a competent cook yourself? It makes food photography a LOT easier.

    8: There is no such thing as a "pro vibe".


    Geren likes this.
  7. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Well there is a difference between being an amateur and not knowing much.

    Suspect the other comment relates to the fact that not all of us are guys.

    I am on my phone using this as a displacement activity for the text I should be writing to accompany my photo book for my final year degree project. I know a fair bit. But not by any means everything. In any capacity! I have done a reasonable amount of product and food photography for clients but on the side. I don't earn a living from it. I have never done it during "office hours" so to speak and have always had the full cooperation of the hotel/restaurant staff. I got the impression you would also be able to work under similar conditions from your post. It's more about planning and styling than anything else.
    EightBitTony and Roger Hicks like this.

    JMASTERJ Member

    OH LMAO... i guess some people dont know "guys" is unisex term huh... oh well. And ya on the other end, I dont think even a pro would claim he knows everything, but there is some really good advice here so I dont think its unreasonable to think that not one person knows how much a pro would charge, bec at the end of the day, I only need one good answer amidst the 1000 who dont right? :)
  9. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Well it isn't, it's masculine.
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Including the "pros" who've actually done food photography.

    What is the precise point that you are making?

    And what precisely are the questions you are asking? Without the "vibe"?


  11. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    The problem is that each 'pro' will likely have different overheads which will affect their pricing. Some will have assistants to pay, studio hire to cover, vans, dedicated business phone lines, potentially utilities. Others will be working out of their mum's spare room. Some will factor in the cost of training and maintenance of equipment. Some will attempt to do everything themselves and probably be a shaking nervous wreck in the process. Each job will have a different price depending on complexity of set up, number of hours spent meeting with the client to discuss needs, number of photographs taken, type of photographs, required usage, number of staff being paid to complete the job, number of hours editing required, amount of travel required.

    If you are planning on doing this sort of thing regularly you should have a spreadsheet of all costs and work out what your hourly/daily rate is to ensure that you are paid accordingly. If it's a one-off and you're confident you can pull off a good job, pluck a figure out of the air that you'd be happy with and see if it flies.
    Roger Hicks and EightBitTony like this.
  12. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Plus rude plus irritating.
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Nah. Just charge SO much that you can't lose (on average). Been there, done that. If they want you, they'll pay.


  14. dream_police

    dream_police Well-Known Member

    I must admit I think of "Guys" as being unisex now. My daughter certainly uses it to her girlfriends.

    Perhaps owing to a certain dead predator, the phrase "guys and gals" perhaps isn't that popular!:eek:
    Geren and Roger Hicks like this.
  15. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Anyone who starts a conversation with "hi guys" grinds my gears, It sounds soooo false.
  16. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    It doesn't actually bother me. I spend most of my days surrounded by people in their early twenties, and 'guys' is in common usage when faced with a mixed group of peers. I suppose, if you want to attract everyone's attention in a class rep meeting and don't wish to offend anyone, you could cry out 'People!' but that sounds a bit passive aggressive to me, and on balance I think I prefer 'Guys!'
    Roger Hicks and dream_police like this.
  17. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Well that's much the same thing, I think. Food isn't something I've done as yet, and it's the styling that would worry me the most, but in terms of charging, my standard pricing structure is designed to make sure I can't lose out. Hopefully... ;)
  18. dream_police

    dream_police Well-Known Member

    Having worked in a mostly male environment for many many years (in fact I didn't have a female on my team for 4 years or so) I used to address the group as "gents". I often got caught out though. Occasionally I would say "gents", look around the room, see a female, who in most cases I knew was there and have to add "And lady, sorry". I eventually changed my address to "folks"
    EightBitTony and Geren like this.
  19. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I tried 'folks' at art school once and everyone laughed. I think it's a bit like referring to dresses as 'frocks' - you have to be over 45!
    dream_police likes this.
  20. MJB

    MJB Well-Known Member

    Anyone who struggles with using a masculine term to describe a female has never met a girl from Frome.

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