The advice commonly given these days to aspiring photographers is to specialize in one aspect of photography so that you get so good at it that people would gladly pay you to create images for them. While this is sound advice, once you get to a certain level you will find that with just a little effort it is possible to open more avenues to produce a stronger income stream. One specialty that is currently in demand is food photography. These would be photos of plated food as well as shots of the restaurant and the chefs. There is a great deal of work that needs to be accomplished at many different levels from local restaurants to the many magazines and blogs that are covering the foodie phenomenon.
Assuming the basic equipment is at hand that most wedding or portrait photographers possess, by adding a few items to your kit the knowledge you have about lighting and composition can be put to good use offering food photography services. The most useful lens for food photography is the standard 50mm lens. It gives a normal perspective and has a fast aperture to make those narrow depth of field images that are so in vogue for all styles of photography these days. Lights that have modeling lights make product photography easier but with a hot shoe flash the same results can be obtained with a little trial and error. Most of these items that I recommend are inexpensive and can be obtained around town and at your local camera store. This list will enable most shooters to tackle basic food projects.
1. A Clamps
You just can’t have enough of these. They come in various sizes and I say buy them all. The most useful are 2” clamps. They have so many uses. From holding reflectors to securing fabric to crossbars.
2. Gaffers Tape
Never be caught without gaffers tape. It is used to hold background paper in place or when a makeshift paper sweep needs to be constructed by taping paper to a wall. Unlike Duct tape gaffers tape doesn’t damage the paint on your walls.
3. Foam Core
Get some in white as well as black. White for reflecting light into shadows and black to use as a gobo to increase contrast or block stray light from hitting a lens.
For moving small items like piece of macaroni.
Aluminum foil that is coated black that can be used for making branders or flags to modify light.
Translum is a diffusion material made by Savage Universal that is great for making small and large diffusers and can be used as a background. Lots of uses.
Handy to reflect light into small areas. Small ones that are used for applying makeup are the best.
8. Silver-Gold Reflectors
Sometimes the fill light needs a little more punch. Small gold reflectors are great for reflecting light through a whiskey glass to give the whiskey more color.
9. Tether Cable
Your subject is not jumping around like in a fashion shoot so take your time to study the image on your computer.
I suggest the basics which are white and black seamless paper. Items that a normally found in the kitchen are great like a piece of marble or a wood serving board. Some distressed pieces of wood in various earth tones make great backgrounds.
11. Matthews MICROgrip with MICROclamp
A limited use item but when it is needed it is really handy. In food shots quite often a utensil is required to look like it it is holding a piece of meat or a spoon full of soup. With this clamp and bracket someone doesn’t have to hold a prop just right to get the shot.
12. Saw Horse
Add a square piece of wood and you have a workspace that is easily taken down and placed in the corner when not in use.
A great deal of food photography in the commercial world is accomplished with one light and reflectors. Don’t be intimated into thinking just because you don’t have a studio full of lighting and grip equipment you can’t create some professional looking results. Food photography’s current style is natural light. A few backgrounds and props can go a long way towards producing the images the clients a looking for today.