Shooting Food/Restaurant & Costs

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by j_l|32, May 1, 2017.

  1. 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. If you have not done this kind of work before, do it for free to build your portfolio. Never practice on paying customers.

    The minute you charge anything for your work, you become a pro. And must perform and deliver like a pro. If you can't guarantee that, do it for free!
  3. It has been nearly two decades since I shot food. There was an art director and a food stylist directing and dueling among themselves. Sort of like creative chaos. The food stylist definitely made the images better.

    I would not do this on my own. The food stylist had all sorts of cheats that made pretty boring food look extraordinarily appealing.
    Charles_Webster likes this.
  4. PapaTango

    PapaTango Itinerant Philosopher

    Photographing food, like any good product photography--comes with its own challenges and tricks. It is much more than selecting lighting setups, camera angles, and post-processing magic. Sometimes--and more often than not one has to make something that is 'ageing' on the plate look like it just rolled out the kitchen window. I have seen photographers use oil, water mist, food dye, freeze spray, and heat guns, torches, and a veritable magic chest of tools to liven up an item. Think about it for a second--those Red Lobster commercials make one want to leave the house at 3AM for a plate of something that looks so vibrant and delicious--yet the real thing in front of you rarely has the same impact! Or that sumptious burger that actually is McDonald's on a bad day... :p

    There are numerous books on the subject--ranging from "Food Styling & Photography for Dummies" to more involved works such as Delores Custer's "Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera." I would suggest spending some time with Google, get a book or two--and cut loose in your own kitchen. Amazon and the books they offer is your friend here. Conscript a couple friends that enjoy cooking and trade work for food! Remember, this is a cooperative effort between the photographer, the chef--and lacking a third party of an experienced food stylist--all the ingenuity and tools the both of you can muster!
  5. Bring strobes and a reflector, and do the shoot when the restaurant is closed, for example on a Monday. There is lots of information online to show you food setups and lighting. Even if you are on location during business hours, set the shots up on a table away from the main flow. Best to do it during a low traffic time, for example 3:00pm.

    Price wise you need to do some research, there is lots of info online in the first page of a google search.
  6. If you have not done this kind of work before, do it for free to build your portfolio. Never practice on paying customers.
  7. This may be too late of a reply, but I just finished shooting a launch campaign for a restaurant in Dallas called Bullion. The chef has a Michelin star, so it was a highly anticipated opening here.
    We did all of their interior/exterior, staff, beverage, and food photography.

    We did almost all of the food with a single light, shot through a medium softbox, with big pieces of styrofoam as reflectors (usually at least one in every shot).
    Depending on the caliber of chef I would recommend getting a food stylist. The Bullion chef was there for every shoot and personally styled all of the food, so we did not need to hire one, but if you are not dealing with a chef that is good at plating and styling his own food I would highly recommend a stylist. They will take your shoot to the next level.

    As far as rates, it really depends on your level of experience and what you are comfortable charging. For the most part we shot 4-5 dishes in about 2-3 hours time, but the restaurant was closed and that was all that was going on. Like any other kind of photography, the more the photos are going to be used to help someone else make money, the more you should be charging them.

    I hope this was helpful
    - Ray
    Studio Manager
    Eighty three creative group
    Wilmarco Imaging likes this.
  8. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    Hmm... always have a bottle
    of ketchup in each photo...
  9. Agree with rfdphoto on using a stylist, even if it is the chef.
  10. Its more about composition than anything else. Most food shots are done with minimal equipment 1 to 2 lights. Natural airy shots are not even lit with strobes. Experience is the key as you can just use a speed light bounced and get fantastic usable shots. Composition!
  11. Agree with Charles Webster
    If you have not done this kind of work before, do it for free to build your portfolio. Never practice on paying customers.
    ... "
    Charles_Webster likes this.

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