Food Photographer in New Delhi: Getting Started
So you have a food product, or multiple, and you need mouth-watering food images for your marketing plans. Well, if you’re looking for professional food photography, you’re in the right place. Even though food photography in India has come a long way, there is still a lack of variety in food stock photos, making commissioned assignments a necessity. So if this is your first time at commissioning a food shoot in a photography studio or a test kitchen, then here is your guide to everything you need to know about professional food photography.
Stock food photos are a great way to supplement articles and features because they are, by definition, taken in a generic manner to fit many different purposes. But as a restaurant, or as a food product manufacturer, these stock images would often be limiting. They may not represent your exact product for, say a menu or an advertisement. You should have food images which represent your product(s) well and show them in the best possible light. The viewer of the photograph should feel enticed and want to reach in and eat the food in the photograph.
Well, like all services, food photography is also available at various price points. Photographers with more experience, more expertise, better studio and equipment will obviously be more expensive than others. But there are photographers to fit many different budgets and you can always find one that works for you. But before you reject a photographer purely for budgetary reasons, bear in mind that talent and professionalism come at a price and the rewards of investing in good branding and imagery are immense.
A food stylist is responsible for making the food look fresh and inviting for the camera and, in turn, irresistible for the viewer of the photograph. He/ she also works with the photographer to create the overall look and mood of the photograph. A food photograph or video is 2-dimensional. So it is the food stylist’s job to ensure that visually the photograph translates into the perception of taste, aroma and appeal.
Additionally, even the most beautifully prepared dishes have a very short life-span. They cannot continue to look beautifully prepared and appetising for the duration that is required to perfect a shot, ranging from 5 minutes to 1 hour. This is also the stylists job – to prepare and assemble the food in such a way that it doesn’t wither away by the time the photographer is ready for the final shot.
The difference between what a chef and a food stylist do is, simply put, a chef prepares food to taste wonderful and look good on a dining table or a buffet while a stylist prepares and assembles food only (and only) to look brilliant in a photo or a video. They are not opposite ends of the spectrum, the stylist and chef. More often than not, they work in conjunction to create a product that is designed to charm the camera.
The food stylist can be hired by the photographer or by the client directly. Unless the client has a specific preference or request, photographers usually call upon the stylists that they prefer to work with. Since the photographs are a joined effort between the photographer and the stylist, it is important to hire a team that works well together.
There are a few basic areas which should be covered during a photography briefing:
- Most importantly, the photographer and stylist should be briefed together so that they both understand the products and the requirements. As they have to work together towards the final product, it is best to avoid confusion right from the very beginning.
- The products to be shot should be described or presented, in the way that they are actually prepared and presented, so that the photographer and stylist understand them. They will be able to identify which aspects of the products can be highlighted and emphasised to get the best food photograph.
- The usage of the desired photographs should be shared – whether they are to be used in a menu, for packaging or for marketing and PR because that will determine the style and format of the photos.
- Lastly, the look and mood of the photos should be discussed. This is often decided basis the intended usage of the shots. If you have reference (or aspirational) photographs of similar products that explain your vision for the photos, those should be shared.
Typically, in an 8-hour workday, the photographer can cover about 5-6 final shots. This is a generalisation and can vary depending on the ease or complexity of the products. This can be used as a benchmark to define how many days of work are required to cover the number of products that you want shot.
If the brief is clear and the photographer+stylist are well armed with all the information they need, then most of the shoot will go easily and with minimum confusion. But the presence of a representative from the client or the advertising agency is necessary for 2 reasons:
- To approve the representation of the products — that there aren’t any fundamental differences in the way that the client and the photographer+stylist see the products.
- To see that the photo fits in with the design requirements – that it is appropriate for the usage that it is intended for.
The reason that this is important is because once the shoot is over, it is difficult and expensive to make fundamental changes to the image. Colours, tones, sharpness, detailing etc can be modified but moving items around and changing the composition/ presentation of the products is impossible or, at best, difficult to do without very expensive photoshop skills and/ or re-doing the whole shoot.
If you have any more questions about food photography, you can send in your queries or call Arjun directly.