Creative Food Photography

Lesson 4/8 - Shoot: Waffle with Syrup - Capturing Movement


Creative Food Photography


Lesson Info

Shoot: Waffle with Syrup - Capturing Movement

So for waffles, because, potentially, we would put this as an additional image on our blog or our Instagram, let's make it look a little bit different but keep the same feel. So I'm sticking with that nice, light pink theme because that's what we've already begun with and using this beautiful, brick background that we have here in the studio. So maybe you have a wall at home that you really like and a table you can just get a tablecloth. Make sure it's not too wrinkly. So let's scoot it over. You can always retouch the wrinkles, but I promise to you, everything that you can do in the camera or beforehand will make your life a lot easier. I always say get it right in camera. So yes, it's easy to retouch a wrinkle, but that's another, you know, 20 seconds you're sitting at a computer rather than hanging out with your friends and family or going outside or just doing something else. So everything that you can prep for. If you can iron out wrinkles, have clean water, make sure that things ...

are spotless and polished. If you can get all of that prepped ahead of time, then you'll have a much more successful shoot and much less time retouching on the computer. So here we are, we're using this beautiful, pink linen tablecloth. You can pick something up. It doesn't have to be a tablecloth. You can go to your fabric store and just cut bolts of material, see what they have in their rummage section or their extras section, you know, and find, just collect. Remember, get your big bin, your plastic bin and collect things while you're out doing something else. You might see, oh, that's such a pretty color. I really identify with that color. Get a piece of it, you know. It's not that much. And you can store it in your bin and then you have it. So we're using this pretty rustic plate. And one of the reasons that I chose this plate is because it's not super reflective. It has a nice matte quality to it and the more reflection you have in a food image, the more difficult it is to light, and the more retouching you're going to have to do. So here we have nice matte surface. I chose a round plate. I tend to like round more than square because that's what most people eat off of, right? And, right, in this image, we're really going for something that might be your breakfast at home in some really beautiful setting. So we're fortunate to have this great white brick wall. If you like a white brick wall, but you don't have one at home, you can go buy a piece. Now they make these great linoleums, and you can, that look like bricks. You can go buy a piece. You can hang it on your wall, or you can tack it onto plywood. So we've got this, we've got the tablecloth, now we have waffles. We've just made the waffles, and look how nice they look. So this plate you see is kind of normal, and I want something that has a feel that's a little more stylized. So you don't have to have 20 of these. You only have to have one. So here's the one plate, and I'm gonna use my hands. And I'm transferring the stack of waffles over. And I'm finding a side that looks, doesn't look burnt, doesn't look crunchy. It's kind of just a nice front view. Okay. So we found the front. Oh, those are pretty. Okay, great. Great, we're getting all of our beautiful waffle elements on the table. If you have all of the things out, create a styling table for yourself when you're doing a shoot because it really makes it easier than going into each jar, or each cupboard, if you have one table with everything you might need. You can just pull from it. You can see it, and that's really helpful. So, again, we've got our highlight side and our shadow side. I'm just gonna. There we go. Brush off the tablecloth. And let's see, right? We have to look through the camera and see what the camera sees. So let's see what we've got. That's really nice. And, again, I'm shooting this one vertically because it's a stack of waffles. And I'm shooting it straight on. If this were just one waffle on a plate, I would shoot it overhead because there's no height there. Okay. So that's-, yeah, it's okay. So that's a lot of space up here and a lot of space down here, but I think I'm gonna shoot it for Instagram. So I know I'm gonna crop it, and it's gonna be square. Thanks, Erin, thanks. Pretty. Great. Thank you. So we can try our waffles deconstructed, and then we can construct them. So we have bowls with beautiful berries. That can come into the image. And then we have some pretty flowers to give more height. Let's see what that looks like. So you want your item moved through the image, and the reason I'm doing something low, I'm bringing you up and through. Right? The pink in the flowers brings out the tablecloth, the pink in the berries. So let's see what that looks like. But we'll also, we know we need silverware. We probably need a plate, but we don't want it to get too busy so maybe we need a napkin. I don't know what color works, so I'm coming over here, and I'm looking. Those are nice colors. It's okay to double stack your napkins. Have a few forks. That tells me there's more than one person eating the waffles. One person can't really eat all those waffles. All right, and let's shoot, and let's see what we take away or what we add. This might be too busy. And because I'm telling a story of the waffle, I'll show you in a second. Because I'm telling a story of the waffles, I don't need every bit of these items in the frame. They can be cropped out. What I don't like is this line I'm getting right here in the waffle. So, and this doesn't make sense. What is that? Silverware or not silverware? So I'm gonna bring the silverware in and rotate this top waffle a bit so that I don't have such a harsh line coming through the image, but I do like this feeling of movement. I like the height here with the height of the waffle. So I'm gonna play with that for one second. They smell good. Oh, and then the silverware. I was gonna move the silverware over, and you know, I think the silverware, you can't really see the tongs of the forks. So I could prop it up just a little bit, so it's called cheating it. Right? So you're giving the camera a better face. So I could prop it up with just a napkin folded underneath, a little paper towel or something. It's really great in food photography to get wedges, so makeup wedges that you might use your foundation for are really helpful to have in your stylist kit. Tweezers, cuticle scissors, regular scissors. You can buy tiny little blocks that are clear, and they can prop things up so you can get that at a hardware store. It's really helpful. So I'm gonna raise that up a little bit. I don't know what I'll use to do that. I'll find something. So I don't have anything on the table because I don't have my stylist kit, but I do have a lens cap. So let's see what that's like. That might be better to the camera's eye. Okay, let's try it now. You don't always have what you need even if you're on site in a studio in the perfect world. Something might be missing, something might get broken. So it's really important to know how to improvise. So think outside of the box. I needed something to prop it. I don't have the right thing. Well, I can find something else. Right? So it doesn't have to be the perfect clear wedge right now. I can find a lens cap, I could use a bottle opener under there, I could use a cap of a water bottle. So think about shapes and not necessarily what they are when you're using tools. Okay, so let's get in. We're telling the story of the waffle. That looks breakfast-y. What do you guys think? Do you like it? Is it too busy? Raise your hand if you like it. Okay. Raise your hand if you think it's too busy. Unanimously liked it. That makes me really happy. Okay, I also like it. Now what I would like to see is some syrup on the waffle, and I'd love to see a hand pouring that syrup. Because we have so much in the image on this side, let's see what it's like to have the hand come in from here and pour. You can have anybody in your house or anybody you know pour things in, you know, not every image but a lot of your imagery for every, so we've given you a variety right here's this shot, now we're gonna have a pouring shot. Okay. Our lovely helper. I think if you can come from behind so you're not blocking the light. You could come sort of here and pour. Okay, great. Now does it make sense to everybody why Erin is standing behind the table and not on the side? We don't wanna be blocking this beautiful highlighter or light because this is what's giving us the light for our image, and her whole body, even though it's very small, would be enough to block that light. So she's standing behind the table, away from the window, and she's going to pour through this negative space right here onto the waffle. Okay. I'm gonna get back over here. Actually right there's kind of nice. And if you could go left a little bit. Yep, that's great. And then down a little bit more please. Yep, right there is nice. So what I'm doing is I'm filling the space, and you can just pour. Yeah, I'm ready. Go. You can go down a little bit more. Yeah, that's perfect. And you can go down a little bit more and pour. Can you get, like, a bigger glob of, yeah. Okay, so, we played around until we got the right place. And I really like what she's looking like right now. Her outfit, I think, goes with the scene, and so I chose to include her in this image. If it was just a hand, I could crop right in here. Can we show what that would be like please? Or actually I can just take one more. I'll just, I love what that looks like. Okay, let's get in, and I'm just gonna get. Yep, okay, I'm ready for you. Oops. So since I'm getting in-- No, it's okay. Since I'm getting in so tight, I have to rearrange a few of the elements. But now I'm getting, like, just the waffle. Okay, go ahead and pour. And drip it down the front please. Yes. Great. Okay. So we have this overall shot. That tells a story, and then I think we-- This is so pretty. I love it. The colors match, her outfit's nice. But, you know, if you're doing it and you don't have somebody who's perfectly matched to your scene, you can get in really close. It's a computer. It's a camera. They're talking. To right there. And what I really wanna see is some of this in the front. But I needed to look through the camera to know that that was missing. Right? So look. Here we have it. And if I were to do it again, if we had a second batch of waffles, I always recommend if you're doing a pouring image, you want a back up. If we're having a second batch of waffles, I would rotate her hand so it was to the side of it because it's not so pretty to see all that hand there. So let's try it just one more pour so they can see what the hand looks like in the right positioning. But I have five minutes to granola. Okay, great. This isn't terrible, but the hand is distracting. Does that make sense to everybody? Yeah. So right now I'm looking at the hand instead of the waffle, and the story is about the waffle. Well, it's a breakfast story now. So here we are getting the syrup ready. So you're gonna come in and show kind of the side, yes. Same place. And then you'll show exactly. Yeah. Over with your body a bit more still. That's great. And then pour from there please. Same spot, yes. Exactly. Ready, pour in the front. Okay. So I think. See how it's not about the hand now? The hand's not the center of the image. So you can do. Look, I cut out that in the next image. Let's go to the next image. I got even closer to make it just about the waffle. So in your story, you could show three images from this. You could show the detail of the waffle, you could show the hand pouring, and you could show the overall story. So with just a few simple ingredients, now you have three great new images for your social media. Sir? So what do, what would it look like if the pitcher was a little bit more towards you so you could actually see into the syrup in the pitcher? Yeah, that's great. That's another way to do it. We can try that right now. Let's show you. So scoot over a bit because we still need to fill that negative space. Okay, great. And pour please. Great. So here you can see. So it's a matter of personal taste, but the reason I am not choosing to do it this way is I think the focus then really becomes on the vessel for pouring rather than the story. Can you go back one image please? This is really more the focal point now because it's darker, and so your eye is coming to this area. But it's good to try both, and, you know, I wouldn't have known that until I tried it necessarily. So play. Try different angles. Try pouring in different ways. Experiment with things. But, in general, it feels really nice. Right? Okay. And then, oh, let's do just one more standing right there please. And smiling 'cause you're in this one. So she's in the background. I would give a little more of the foreground, but it shows this is another story. So that could be your fourth image. Right? So it's not perfect. We would try and fix her sleeves, I would show a little more of the foreground. But this also gives you an added image for the story. So let's do one more just to show them. Let's fix the sleeves. And scoot to the left a bit to fill up that neg-- The other side please to fill up the negative space. So what am I doing? We've got the high flowers, we have low things here. So I'm adding height to that side also to balance it so your eye goes through the image. Okay. Great, and you can be smiling a little, and you can look that way a bit. You don't have to be looking at the camera with your chin. Just a little smiling. Great. So that's our hostess. Here now we know who made the food. Right? Tells a nice story right there. Yeah. I'm happy with it. I'm happy with the colors, I'm happy with the way she tied the bow. If I were to do it again, I'd move this a little bit and not have them touching. But let's move on to some granola. When we're discussing color palettes and branding for social media, do you choose one color or a palette of colors, like two or three. And then is it okay to stray from those colors, or do your branding colors have to be the focus? Such a great question. It really depends on the look that you like, and my recommendation is to pick your favorite social media people that you follow, take screenshots of each of them, lay it out in front of yourself, and figure out what do they have in common. So do you like them because they all have pink in common? Do you like them because the light is beautiful in all of them? Or because the person is beautiful in all of them? So it's totally okay to do any of those combinations. And if you are using one consistent color, on occasion you add another color, that's gonna be really exciting. Let's say everything was blue and then once in a while, you had a yellow image. That would be so dynamic. If you were to use blue for a week and then red for the next and pink, that can be really beautiful also because you're telling a color story, and you're having it consistent and then you're going to the next color. If you have a brand, for a long time, green was really a part of my brand. It was bright apple green. And now, because of my Cuban flavor book, we started using orange, a bright orange. And then my Liza Gershman Creative Agency is pink. So I don't have one color anymore. And as you can see, a lot of my imagery is multiple images and vibrant. Particularly because so many of the places I go to are vibrant and really colorful. And so, for me, my social media is many colors, but they're colors that always seem to compliment one another. And they're very bold and vibrant. I wouldn't put a pale pink in there next to jewel tones. You wanna have a similar family of colors. So if you're doing pale pink, you could do lavender and light blues. If you're doing red, you could do purple and orange. You wanna stick. You can look on a color wheel. If you don't know what that means, go to a paint store and get those color palettes from a paint store and see how that's laid out. And that will really help you. There are so many ways. I think we're in the most wonderful time in the history of mankind. We are in the information age. If you don't know how to do something, Google it. If you can't figure out what colors work well together, go to the paint store or look online. Look up pan tone, look up color charts. Nothing is a mystery. Well, how we all got here is a mystery, but very little is a mystery. And that's one of the best parts of the age we live in, so don't feel like you have to do it all on your own. Use resources. And don't be embarrassed about it. I was in-house at William Sonoma, and I had never photographed knives before. And I found myself needing to photograph these beautiful shun knives by the master makers, and I thought oh my gosh I don't know how to do this. And I went into a bit of a panic, and then I thought well, someone has done this before. And I went on YouTube, and it turns out the photographer for that company did a tutorial on how he photographed his knives. So what better way to learn? I was like, great. He's told me how I can photograph his knives the best way possible, and so I learned. And I photographed his knives the way he photographed his knives. So it's totally okay. Don't be embarrassed to reach out for help. We have the internet. Everything is possible. And, you know, if you wanna know what's the best advice you can find, Creative Live has experts. So just look on Creative Live and find any one of us, and you can look on our websites or on our YouTube posts or tutorials. We all are really happy to share and happy to help you learn how to do something. So please never feel like you're out there on your own. There's always a resource for you, and if you don't know, go to a paint store, go to a hardware store. People are so happy to help anybody, so I find most often. Strangers are very kind. Drew. Yeah, we got a question. A lot of online, thank you for your question. What's a good size for boards for backgrounds and flat surfaces? So what's big enough, not too big? Yes, so usually, two by two is the smallest I would go for a surface or background. A four by four is very standard in the industry because it gives you enough space to be able to do something horizontally or vertically, and it also gives you enough space to be able to move through your image and have everything so it's not stacked on top of each other. So four by four is really a standard in the industry for a background or surface. Great question. And somebody in the audience just had one more question. Yes? So then I was wondering if you are planning your Instagram posts, or your social media posts, planning them ahead, looking at your whole as a collection. So you're planning your photos and advancing okay, so I know that I posted a pink photo last week. I'm gonna incorporate that into this week's, and you're, like, organizing them in a stylized way so that your viewers are looking at them as a collection? That's my best advice. Please don't look at mine as an example because it needs an overhaul, but you can look at my historic posts. And you'll see that I did plan them as a collection. Most recently, mine has become a behind-the-scenes of all the really fun events I've been doing, but if you look at my historic images on Instagram. You can see I did plan as collections, so I have, like, New York winter images. And they're all textures and everything's grays and silvers and blacks and whites, and I love to plan by season because I am really drawn to different temperatures and climates. So, for me, you'll see sometimes during the summer, you'll see vibrant colors and during the fall, you'll see oranges and browns and, for me, you'll see during the winter, a lot of blacks and whites and grays and silvers and maybe even light golds and in the spring, pastels. And so, for me, that's what I do. And, absolutely, you can always use PlaneClear, Hootsuite. There are so many tools out there to help you plan in advance, and it's really important to do that because you want to tell a strong story. And if you're posting one red image today, one, you know, pale lavender image tomorrow, there's really nothing tying them together. So it's great to plan it in advance. And maybe you're not just posting food images. So you wanna tell a story. And if you don't know, look again to your top five Instagram favorites, your top five social media favorites, and see what they're doing, and see if you can pick it apart. And if you don't know how they're doing it, I bet you can send them a message, and I bet they'll respond.

Class Description

Great food photography is all about showcasing the dish’s best traits—from its colors to its textures to its subtle details—so you can inspire the viewer to want to take a bite. But shooting food for social media and blogging takes different skills than shooting for commercial and editorial purposes. Join food and travel photographer Liza Gershman as she walks you through the steps to create and edit food images that will get you noticed on social media. She’ll cover trends, styling, storytelling, lighting, composition and editing so you can strengthen your compositional eye and perfect your scrumptious images.



Liza Gershman is not only an amazing artist, she is an excellent educator. In this course, she goes beyond teaching the basics of interesting composition. She factors in the connection between food and culture, and the role that it plays in storytelling as a visual artist. She demonstrates how to draw upon the story of a dish, to showcase it with an authenticity that will set you apart and elevate your art. This was a wonderful class, and absolutely worth owning! Thank You Liza!

Alex Navarrete

The title of this class doesn't really do it justice with the very insightful things Liza says in this course. She really does a good job explaining the type of mentality one should be aiming for when taking pictures too.