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What camera / gears do I need for Food Photography?

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by K Kapoor, Feb 28, 2017.

  1. K Kapoor

    K Kapoor Member

    With a budget of 1000 GBP what would be a decent camera that can help me in food photography?
    This will be mostly for two purposes.
    1. Product catalogue of a grocery company
    2. Dishes at Restaurant / Cafes / Hotels
    I am not a photographer but adding this skill can help me further my career.
    So please help.
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately it's not a skill you can learn quickly, or with a budget of £1000. You need lights, light modifiers, camera supports and (above all) experience. Food photography is a major specialization, even after you are skilled at other aspects of photography. I've done it well enough to illustrate a few books, but I'm not good at it. Your question is akin to, "I can't cook but I'd like to learn to be a chef in a few weeks by buying the right knives and pans."


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  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    It is quite a specialised area. I've seen a couple of articles over the years. Lighting, composition and faking "fresh" are the main techniques to master. For commercial work reproduction of fine detail will be important so probably you need to look to better quality lenses. I could imagine this as a subject for which pros still use cameras with movements. I would hesitate to recommend a dedicated set up. Maybe a longish macro and/or a 90 mm tilt/shift on a full frame body would work but getting depth of focus across a place setting is going to be tricky.
    K Kapoor likes this.
  4. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    As Roger says.... the skills you require are that of a specialist photographer.
    Most food photographers today have studied photograph at college or university and have a basic qualification at degree level.
    They have then worked as an assistant to a expert Food Photographer for a number of years, before setting out on their own.
    You can not short circuit this process by buying kit. If you are already an expert photographer you might be able to cut the process to the working with professional food photographer for a few months.

    A retired professional like myself, can of course shoot the odd plate of food that would satisfy Joe public. But would display few of the skills necessary to call myself a Food Photographer. In the case below the food has no shine and looks dry, though it was totally fresh and ready to eat.

    Summer meal 2015 (Hand held snapshot taken with a Fuji x30)
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Terry sums it up perfectly. Like me he is old enough and cunning enough to do a competent job (after decades if experience) and like me he is old enough and cunning enough to recognize that neither of us is a top food photography professional.

    The easiest way to improve the food in his picture would be to brush it with olive oil, using a very soft brush: a make-up brush (powder brush) would be ideal. The fact that you need a make-up brush s an illustration of the "tricks of the trade".

    The vegetable salad needs to be more heavily oiled, and the fruit salad could perhaps benefit from a glycerine spray (which would render it inedible, or at least deeply unpalatable). Backgrounds are very much a question of fashion, as is the hardness, colour and direction of the light: you'll find one or two semi-competent examples if you go to http://rogerandfrances.eu/cookery-and-the-kitchen/cookery-and-the-kitchen and follow the links.

    Another point is that you need to work VERY quickly, even with "faked" food: it soon loses its sparkle. Two old tricks are to "block in" the lighting using crumpled tissue paper, and to prepare everything twice over: an "ordinary" copy for lighting and exposure, then 10 minutes later, the final copy for shooting.


    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
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  6. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Terry, you do yourself down! There's good shine on the dessert although the damaged grapes could have been left out. Salad looks crisp and has highlights well controlled. Sure, the pie and potatoes does look dry but there's hint of a glint on the egg. I'm thirsty now just looking at the drink. Got to go. Lunch also beckons! Cheers, Oly

    PS. That work surface looks real. Not stripped in! ;)
    PPS for OP's benefit. Most of the food work in 'serious' professional food photography is done by a food economist or as some like to be titled, food stylist.
  7. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    Taken on the spur of the moment on my kitchen table. I had just prepared it ready to eat, and thought that looks nice, so took a shot as you do.
    The grapes tasted fine, if perhaps a little long on the vine. The small red potatoes had been buttered when hot by swirling in the pan, and allowed to cool, so the butter had reset. I like a fork late lunch like that on a hot day in the garden.
  8. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    It's perfectly possible to pull off food photography wihtout a mass of equipment but it helps if you know what you're doing. And that includes a lot of the 'tricks of the trade', such as painting shoe polish onto cold joints of meat and hiding boiling kettles to create steam and so on. This was taken yesterday for a school quiz night...it will be having text added to it with the quiz name (Twisted) by someone better at typography than I am. Not much in the way of tricks for this one; dipped the lemon slice in water and shook most of it off to try and keep it fresh, pancake on a white plate, 100mm macro lens, A4 spiral bound pad of feint lined paper propped up to bounce light back onto it. Very shallow depth of field (not all food photography needs to show off every morsel). Really depends on what you're hoping to do and how much time you have for it.

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  9. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I agree with most of what has been said above. Unless the conditions you are forced to take the pictures is particularly badly lit, most shots are possible even without artificial lighting.
    Things I think about are:
    The dish on which the food is set. White or black plates are effective and a good contrast to the food.
    If the background is busy, get in close. As Geren (above) says, it doesn't all have to be visible to give the viewer a taste of what's on offer.
    Try for freshness as much as possible. Even a fine sprayer can be useful to give some gloss to foods requiring it.

    These were taken in natural light.
    food ap 4.jpg food ap 2.jpg food ap 3.jpg
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  10. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    It might be worth reading this article and following the additional links as there seems to be some good tips to be had.

    Try googling Food Photography as well, there looks to be plenty of advice out there.
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  11. K Kapoor

    K Kapoor Member

    wow mighty impressed with the pics, tips and gear suggestions. Thank you experts.
    I will buy a cheap dslr and start with some indoor shooting practice. Thank you folks once again.
    My friend has studio in London and deals in food photography. Here is her site. http://www.karunakapoor.com/ I will try and train with her may be for some months.
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