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Live Shoot: Plate #3

Lesson 27 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

Live Shoot: Plate #3

Lesson 27 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

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Lesson Info

27. Live Shoot: Plate #3


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How To Get Work As A Food Photographer


Understanding Your Skill Level and Your Market


How To Grow Your Business


Opportunities In Commercial Food Photography


How Do You Market Yourself


The Importance of Attitude and Communication


Understanding Insurance Responsibilities and Liability


Lesson Info

Live Shoot: Plate #3

This dish, whose dish is that? Hi. And you are? Luis. Luis, Chef Luis. Tell me about your dish. I have Iberia tacos with beef, with radishes, some pickled radishes. Pickled jalapeños with carrots. Okay, so I'm gonna make a suggestion to you through your boss. Okay. We've already photographed something on a really large piece of wood today. I feel like if we just took exactly what Luis has done here and transfer it to something smaller, we might be able to get something a little different. Are you open to the idea of doing that? I feel like two large blocks of wood in four shots might be a lot. Yeah, I'm open to the variety. I think if we have it on a website on like a slideshow or something, having it break apart would look better. Terrific, okay. Chef, come on over here. Okay, so let's do something a little non-traditional. I'd love you to come here and work with Lay and look at what we have here and think about what you might wanna plate that on as far as an alternati...

ve to the large piece of wood. We have some options. I have a tendency to like this kind of stuff because it's a little rustic which works really nice with taco. I'm going to leave you guys with a couple minutes to talk about it and discuss. I will go back and I will, I am leaving two creative people to discuss something that I would like to happen. I will leave them within a certain amount of parameters to try to bring me a suggestion. This is not normal operating procedure because we're not always trying to re-plate everything on set. What I wanna do is I wanna show those people my respect in their creative process and see what they come up with collaboratively. We have that freedom because the client is giving us enough latitude. I want somebody from her team to be part of that decision-making process instead of taking away the entire creative process away from them. By including them in the process, it's showing respect and it also means that collaboratively, we're gonna have much better communication if we need to change anything else going forward. Especially when you're working with people throughout the entire day, this long shoot, we're here for eight hours. We're working, working, working, working. Being able to have that open dialogue throughout the day and giving them an opportunity to work together from the different teams is really helpful. This particular setup is meant to mimic window light. This is the setup that I use and I've kinda inherited from the old gourmet magazine setups. This was an assistant that worked for me who had worked for gourmet had learned this setup. When we were on a shoot together, a daylight shoot that we ended up having three days of gloom, and we were getting very similar results over and over again that I felt like there were no variations in, I couldn't get any hot highlights. I couldn't do a lot of back-lit stuff. He's like, you know, gourmet used to do this thing and they set it up like this. You wanna give it a shot? I tried it and it was exactly fit into the methodology of how I shoot. I usually shoot through a really big window with southwestern-facing light, and then I filter it out. It gives me a really nice soft look. By creating a V flat like this, we're now creating a window with this, the silk on the front side. By aiming the strobe lights into the V, now I'm pushing light into the V. It's bouncing out, it's being filtered, and then hitting the table. Actually, you have to push these pretty hard to get 'em to do that at the apertures you want but it also is a method to get a shallower depth of field with strobe lighting. A lot of times, it's hard to get down to four O or five-six with a strobe, even at low power. By knocking the light twice, by redirecting it and by filtering it, it creates a softer look. If you can get daylight balanced strobes like we have here, you can actually create something that looks an awful lot like daylight. When I'm looking at the client monitor, and I see the color tone and I'm comfortable with the way that looks, I feel like that looks a lot like daylight to me, especially for an overhead. I may not necessarily keep it this close all the time. I may back it up a little bit. I may narrow the window. I may widen the window. These are the subtle adjustments that you can make in a simple setup with one or two strobes, a silk off the frame 'cause obviously you need to have adjustable a couple of clamps and a V-flat, and you've got yourself a really nice daylight setup. Okay, we got food on the table. I like it. I like it a lot. I made a preference and I said I really like this plate. I like that plate for a reason 'cause it's a little bit rustic and it's got this nice green edge on it but it's not overpowering. By adding the 'molajete'? "Molcajete". "Molcajete", right? By adding that to the shot, we clearly have a very nice hint, maybe not so subtle, (woman laughs) but it is a hint of where this food comes from, right? There's no mistaking that this is Mexican food and I like that. Before we even get to shooting it, we already know that we like the surface. We like the actual combination of this kind of granular-looking slate stone to go with this. Then we have the colorful food to pop off. I already know there's one problem though. What do you think it is, anybody wanna pick up the mic and tell me what they think that problem might be? Yes, right in the back. Would it be the difference in the focal plane with the plate being lower than the bowl of molcajete? Exactly, it's blocking the light. My light source is here and then I got this here. I might wanna flip that. I might just wanna switch it around just a little bit so now you can see the difference just even with the modeling light what that looks like. Good call. She's also saying the depth of field is gonna be rough here, are you concerned with that? That's okay because I'm gonna focus here. Okay. Not here. This is okay if that falls away a little bit. I'm not necessarily looking to put all of my, everything on my platter, on my plate or my table top in focus. When you have things at different heights, you're gonna get different depths of field. But I'm not as concerned about that because I just want my food to be in focus. If anything, that frames my food better with a little bit of out of focus look. We might have to, let's see. We're gonna take a guess, take a shot and see if we got focus. (camera beeps) That's at about 40. Okay. I'm going the wrong way. Okay, so we're a little off as far as how we're set up. Let's get up and frame. I got it, I'll do it. This is kinda huge but it does have a place here. It does, it still has a place even though it's really big. We're just working on the shapes here to indicate. The client already indicated to me that she liked that corner to corner look so I have shapes here that would work nicely going corner to corner. If there's some kind of consistency there, I can work with that. Let's get a test shot. Whoop, actually. Let me go back to, what was it, 125? Let's get a test shot on that and see if we're proportionally in a good space. We didn't fire. (camera beeps) I didn't take one, I just pulled the plug closer. Oh, there it is. (camera beeps) Technical difficulties, corrected. The suspense. From a compositional perspective, I'm getting there. I feel like we still need to highlight our food a little more but we also wanna leave a little bit of that negative space. If I just kinda touch this up a little bit and push it out of frame just a little and just center that a little more, that leaves me this space right here for text or menu or any of that and that might work for us. Now, we're going corner to corner with that so let's get another one. Didn't fire. I think I need new batteries. Go ahead and fire. (camera beeps) Let me change out the battery. Okay, we'll talk about this next frame. Sometimes when you take a picture with the idea that there's gonna be text involved, this is gonna be pre-communicated throughout the process. Sometimes you'll have a mask that you'll throw into this system, that every time you take the picture, the mask appears so that you can adjust the text. If you're doing a cover shot for a magazine, that's usually the way that works. Even here, if we were working with this. Right now, I think compositionally, we're just a little too high in the frame. When John gets that battery back in, we'll take another shot and see what that looks like. From a perspective of communication and listening and understanding that the client had said to me, I really like the idea of negative space in that shot because I can probably put text there, which means that going forward throughout the rest of the shoot, I'm gonna keep that in mind. It doesn't mean I'm gonna do it for every shot but I may do it for every set up. I may actually make sure I have at least one shot in the package per dish that would work for that need and then go out and do other things that gives her obviously the option to do different work with it. Let's take another shot and make sure we get everything we need. Are you happy with the plate? I am. Okay. (camera beeps) Did we get a shot? Yeah, we got one. Good, now we have a little better balance. Again, back over, check with the client. How do you feel? What's happening? What are you thinking? How do you like the re-plate? I like the re-plate. I feel like this shot's too similar to the last shot as far as placement goes. If maybe there was a negative space in a different- So basically kinda creating it on the other side? Yeah. That is something now we can talk about because I don't have to re-plate that. I just have to flip it in Photo Shop. If I have this same frame in Photo Shop, I flip it and it just looks exactly like what you described. Perfect. That's something that I can communicate to her that keeps the project moving because I understand the software that I'm working with and I understand what her needs are. Then all of a sudden, that becomes a time-saver, right? We don't have to go and reset that whole plate 'cause we already know that's gonna make you happy. I could show it to you here, right? If we're working in a regular environment, we say okay Nick, can you show her that in reverse? Or mirror or whatever the terminology is on that. You remember what the terminology is? Flipped. Flip, just flip horizontal. Thanks John. (crowd laughing) A question from over here. Are there any other, when you look at that on Nick's computer, are there any other micro adjustments you might make? If I'm looking at that from the perspective of where, what the client is seeing, I'm happy with what I'm seeing on that monitor. I feel like we've already made those adjustments. Those adjustments are usually probably a little bit of exposure since we're gonna shoot under. Maybe adding or subtracting a little bit of black. Maybe adding and subtracting a little bit of shadow and contrast. That's about it. That's about as far as we're gonna go is those four sliders which are available on any of these programs. Then what you could do is you could lock it in and shoot everything to that preset so that everything that's popping up on a client monitor is already pre-adjusted for his or her eye. That way, you don't have to struggle saying to your tech every shot, "add this, take that away, make sure this looks that way." We create a template that is for the client monitor that is already pre-adjusted and that really works well. There it is flipped. Oh, and there it is flipped. (laughs) Okay, chef, thank you. Really appreciate it, excellent job. We can't wait to eat your food.

Ratings and Reviews


I highly recommend this course! Andrew is an engaging and thoroughly knowledgable teacher. This class is less about how to photograph food - although there are some terrific tips - and more about the "nuts and bolts" or rather, "bread and butter" of running a successful business. A lot of the information is relevant to business in general, but the specific tips about food photography are especially exciting to implement! I found the hands-on portion during the morning of day 2 especially helpful in assimilating the general or more abstract ideas covered in day 1, which laid a fantastic foundation. 5 stars!

Delaney Brown

Andrew is not only a funny, incredibly entertaining person, he's a seriously great teacher. Being in the live studio audience for this class was such a treat. I was able to learn a lot of the nitty gritty lived-in details of what it takes to be a successful food photographer. Things that are hard to come by in books and online! I would highly recommend this class for anyone who wants to take their passion to the next step: making a living.

Amy Vaughn

While I'm not quite ready to focus my business on food photography, this class gave me a much clearer idea of what options and challenges there are in the food photography industry. Andrew covered everything from what jobs might be like when starting out on a tight budget to what options open up as the photographer becomes more experienced and successful. I already did my own internet research about the food photography business before the class, but this was more comprehensive and easy to understand in a short amount of time. Now I feel more confident about setting my business goals, who to look for to collaborate with on projects and eventually the kinds of clients I'd like to work with. He also gave many tips that are immediately applicable in my current photography business that isn't yet focused on food.

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