Sunday, May 23, 2010

Get a Free Gourmet Meal In Your Neighborhood

Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 50mm Macro Lens, Canon MR-14 EX Ringlite.

I am the first to admit it: I am not a professional food photographer, as any food photographer reading this post will quickly realize. :-)

However, I can take a good enough food photo for a local restaurant's web site and menu.

That's what I did this afternoon. I took a few food photos at the local Japanese restaurant, Samurai, here in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Best of all, the meal was free: I traded the owner my photographs for 10 great - and beautiful – dishes!

Previously, the owner, knowing that I'm a photographer, asked about the trade off. I said, "Sure!" I was on my way to a great sushi meal, and he was on his way to some fresh photos.

So here's the message of this short homily: Why not ask the local restaurants in your area if you can do a trade-off: your photos for their best dishes? It never hurts to ask , you know.

Here are a few quick tips for very basic food photography:

• You'll need a macro lens for close-up shots. However, bring your wide-angle lens for wider shots.

• Carefully watch your aperture. Although pro food photographers often like to use shallow depth-of-field, the restaurant owner may like a more traditional shot, with everything in focus.

• A ring light is helpful for even lighting.

• Try to work with natural light; bring a reflector to fill in shadows, which is what I did for this photograph.

• Bring a tripod for low-light, natural light photographs.

• Shoot each dish from different angles: from the side, top, etc.

• Use digital darkroom techniques (such as vignetting and selective sharpening) to enhance your pictures.

• Be sure to ask the owner if he/she is happy with your pictures before you leave the restaurant.

• When you are all done, post your pictures on your blog in the hope of other local restaurants finding you. Note the labels for this post :-)

Hey, let me know if you plan to try this idea. And, let me know how your shoot (and food) turns out.

Explore the light – and sushi.

P.S. Sake (hot and cold) was included, in case you were wondering. :-)


Marianne Bush said...

Truly delicious shots, Rick. I have a feeling you'll be eating for free all over the place.

Ken Toney said...

Thanks Rick, I own a restaurant and have been needing some photos for advertising. I have a ring flash (Ray Flash) and didn't think aout using that for my shots! I will try that.

Rachel said...

I like to shoot my own cooking and I love your tips!

Victor Elias said...

Hi Rick,

I know times are tough but exchanging your art for food sounds a little extreme, don´t you think?

I know of an artist that did that and ended up cutting his own ear and never saw any real return while he was alive. Now he hangs only in the best art galleries around the world, but he is not here to enjoy. You just had the most expensive sushi my friend!

Other clients are going to ask for the same and if you are planning on seeing your return from stock sales, guess what, microstock would be in your way..

I like your work, don´t get me wrong and that is why clients should pay for your talent and invite you for lunch on their own dime!!