The event is packed with people and the organizer gives you last instructions before you start shooting: “Oh, by the way, we need shots of all the food”. Here are some quick tips to prevent panic when there is no time to find, stage and photograph food at an event.
Staging your food can be simple
Use what you have. If you have to shoot on the fly, then treat the food like a person. Find your angle and get the shot. Sometimes you have to shoot while people are about to grab and eat the food. While no one is happy having their picture taken while eating, food on a plate with a smiling guest can make a great picture. If you are shooting events, you know that a person’s reaction can make a good candid shot into a great one. Look for those expressions and reactions.
We don’t need no stinkin’ flashes
It’s true. Ambient light can create a mood easily. Use more ambient light than flash if it is available and you have time. Introducing some motion blur can also enhance a food shot, especially if you get a chef or two in the picture.
Remember that in some events the food is already staged to it’s best effect, including lighting. If you can get there before the guests start sampling, you could have an ideal shooting opportunity. Try both with flash and without and get as many perspectives as you can. It is always good to give your clients more options for the photos.
Advertise on your photo?
Look at food photos in magazines or online. There’s always some space for text to advertise their product. Try and do the same thing. It makes the food look more professionally shot. If you read about “the rule of thirds” for advertising (any online search will help you), your photos will stand out.
Keep photo taking simple and fun
Don’t over complicate your photos. Some of the very best pictures are the simplest ones. The first rule of event shooting is to get the shot you are hired for. Then you can try for a better one. It is always better to give your client something rather than nothing so don’t lose an opportunity because you are overthinking your shot. Get your simple shots in first and then try for the more extravagant ones afterwards.
You will be surprised during your edits just how often the simple shots turn out so much better than the complicated ones.
Be creative and be patient, sometimes photos don’t turn out right the first time
This is one of those times when it is okay to play with your food. 🙂 Try some food art or food porn or just use your subjects in unusual ways. Think of all the different ways you can stage an item. Think of cliches or other sayings that you can demonstrate with food. Moving strawberries into hearts at weddings, or doing some creative writing on a white plate with melted chocolate are just a very small example of the many ways you can make ordinary food “pop” in your pictures.