Gear Q&A


Food Photography


Lesson Info

Gear Q&A

So is it fairly, is it fairly typical to um, food photographers to use fixed length lenses and you know, fixed width lenses instead of zoom? So you did notice that I don't have any zoom lenses in my bag. I don't like zoom lenses for food photography. I think that fixed length lenses and moving your body the way you want to is the way to go. I think that there are food photographers who use zoom lenses. I own the 28-70 zoom, which a lot of people use. Um, I don't like using the zoom lenses. It doesn't fit into my work flow personally, but if it's something, but quite honestly, if you can only afford one lens, one really good lens, especially if it's got the aperture drop off that you want, then go for it, I mean, it's okay. It's not like I say, "Oh no, you can't shoot zoom lenses!" No!. I prefer not to, and I'm in a position where I don't have to, but if you can afford one really great lens and that's the one, it's never gonna go to waste. It's still a great lens and you're still gonn...

a use it a lot. But um, it's not exactly what works in my workflow, but sure. Is that an industry standard though, like or is that just a personal choice? I think most people, I think that 24-70 Canon lens and the equivalent of Nikon is also something that most food photographers own for flexibility's sake. That's what I shoot with is a Canon. Yeah, I think that I don't know that there's a right and a wrong of it. I just think it's a comfort level. I have the lens, I just don't use it that often. Paula? When you say in a restaurant, or do some more life styling food shots, or at a farm, or doing barbecue thing that you were doing. What lens would you choose? The 35. Right. Yeah. Because it's the most flexible lens in the bag. It's really because the focal length is, it gives you a little bit of width, but it's not so wide that it gets you know, aberration or it looks kind of strange. But it'll also focus within you know, three feet, so you know. It's not even close to a macro lens, but it's a very crisp, clean lens, and you can always push in on in post production and crop. Yeah. I notice you have an X-100 S from Fugi I do! Have you ever used that for food photography? I have! It is definitely has the power that I need as far as creating a file. It creates a This is the camera we're talking about right here. It's a Fugi X-100. I think a few people in the room have the upgraded version. It is a fixed lens. It's not a zoom and it's not changeable. But they do make a model, it's ah the x-10. X Pro 1 X Pro 1. The X Pro ! Is changeable lenses. But I found that both with this one, and the Lumex GF series, which has changeable lenses. I've never moved off of the main lens. I bought this obviously I have not choice here, but with the Lumix I have the GF-1. I bought the 28mm Pancake Lens, which focuses macro, and I never changed it out. I've Never gotten a different lens for it. These are called Micro 4 Thirds Cameras. These are Digital SLR cameras. But they are, mirrorless. They're called mirrorless systems, and the file size is somewhere between a full frame, and like a Point and Shoot. It's somewhat of a hybrid between the two. But it does create a really big crisp file, and you shoot it raw. The way you would shoot professionally with another camera with the other cameras. And you could shoot that professionally. This one, in particular has a macro setting where you can flip to a from an optical finder, because this has a view finder, which is rare to see in a Point and Shoot camera. It has an optical finder that goes digital and analog. So if you click it over to digital it focuses macro. So it's pretty cool. With those cameras can you create a shadow dept of field though or Yeah, absolutely! It's got a manual it's just kind of a retro look obviously. Yeah. It has a manual aperture ring. So like this goes from 2.0 up to 16. Right. so you can't go beyond 16 but it's definitely pretty cool. It's got a nice range. Right. Yes! You have an opinion on extension tubes for Food Photography? Yeah, I tried them, and I had a very hard time with them. I wanted really badly to make it work, and it was hard. It was a very hard thing to do. Extension tubes basically what they do is they extend your focal length, or reduce you focal length. Right? They put more glass in between and the idea with Food Photography is to make a lens that's not macro, macro by putting an extension tube on it. That what were talking about? Yeah. Yeah. I tried it before I had one of my Early in my career I was playing around with all different options, and how not to spend so much money on lens and I found it to be really hard. It wasn't something that I thought I was getting the results I wanted from. So, we got questions from the audience? Yeah I think Kate Oh we got one more over here? Quick question, you were talking about using a light meter earlier. Does that mean you're proximately shoot in manual mode? Or do you sometimes shoot in aperture priority, or something like that? Well, professionally it's always manual. I would never shoot aperture priority in a professional setting. Or with this camera. That camera never leaves manual mode. But for walking around and in the street, and doing street photograph, and maybe trying to capture some stuff out, where ever. This particular camera I set in aperture priority mode, which basically locks the aperture in place, and adjust the shutter speed automatically. So, it's like half of automatic. And then what you can do with this particula camera, it's got an a exposure compensation dial right here, next to your thumb. When you're shooting. So if you get a shot and you think that you need to make a little bit of an adjustment you can always take a little bit off, or add a little bit onto the exposure. So, professionally, no! Not professionally, sometimes. Any other questions from in here? All right, we're ready? Okay so, Snappy Gourmet asks and Snappy Gourmet thank you for all the great questions. Snappy Gourmet has been really active. And really solid. Andrew, how do you keep you camera, and your geer clean, when you are around so much food? Do you clean your own camera? Or do you send it back to Cannon to clean it or bring it to a local shop? That's a good question. I have a very good relationship with a local shop in New York. A lot of professional photographers choose to work with smaller shops because, especially if they're selling professional gear. They're usually guys who are really knowledgeable. They know you, they know what you do, and they know that it's time sensitive. So if something breaks they are right there to fix it. Plus a lot of the smaller like camera shops are ones that are attached to rental houses. So the one I use is attached to a rental house. So I buy my stuff there, but I also rent stuff from them. So when I bought my Foba Stand, they actually came to my studio, and installed it for me. I bought this camera, and three days after I bought it. I fell off a ladder, and it landed in a bowl of soup. And I got ten stitches in my hand in the process, and my assistant freaked out. Yes, Olga, you freaked out! The thing about keeping your cameras clean is I send them to the camera shop, the local camera shop that services my stuff, and I send it in you know, periodically probably three or four times a year. They clean the sensor, they clean all the outside. They kind of clean the inside of the lens and everything else that I bring to them. And it's an important thing to do, because it's not just about the food it's about the dust, and that's the other thing I don't love about zoom lenses is that, because the lens is going in and out all the time, it's creating suction, and it's pulling all this dirt into your camera. So that's another reason why I find it not something I like to then I gotta get my cameras cleaned a lot more, too. Cool question. All right Andrew, we did talk about the Fugi X-100 and talking about shooting with your iPhone. What about the opposite direction? Cleo from Boston asks, "Do all magazines now accept digital, and what about medium format? Is it necessary at all? Jerry D said, "is there any reason in this day and age to rent a medium format, or large format camera to get experience with it? Will the client ever need, or ask for these tools?" Okay, that's a really good question. So far in my career I haven't had anybody outside of advertising clientele demand medium format. Medium format, these days digital. Medium format digital is excessively expensive, and it's not just the gear. I mean a digital camera and a digital camera back runs over $20, plus you have to have super powerful computers, enormous amounts of space, and a lot of times work with a digital tech just to use the camera in a studio setting. So it used to be that everyone wanted medium format when we shot film. Nobody shoots film professionally anymore. Not for magazines or nobody really has labs anymore. It's become much harder to shoot film. There maybe some hold-outs out there who are still shooting film because they got a reputation. The magazine they work with will let them do it, but for the most part, I haven't shot a film assignment since 2002. So that gives you a time, we're talking over ten years. The other part of that is whether you should rent it to learn how to use it. That's a personal choice. If you find that you're in a point of your career where you think advertisers are gonna come to you, and wanna hire you, or you're all ready working in advertising. It's not a bad idea. I don't know any magazines that demand it. I mean if you wanna shoot, and you have the money to shoot medium format, they're not going to complain about it. But 35mm is pretty much the industry standard. I would think. Do you ever shoot with two cameras? I do. All right tell us about that? Almost all the time. All right. When I know I have multiple shots to make, and I kind of plan out at least one day a month where I have a really big day. Where we're shooting, five, eight dishes, nine dishes in a day. Do a lot of the prep ahead of time. Get the whole team in the studio at once, and we'll just rip them off one after another, and kind of pack it all in, in one day. When we're doing that, we leave one camera mounted above the table, invariably we're gonna shoot multiple dishes from the top, and then the second camera will be below, and it'll either be on a tripod, or I'll be hand holding the camera. So, I do work with two cameras very often. Obviously my workflow is, when I have a heavy workflow, it helps. When I'm working with only a couple of dishes, I may not take the time to do, set-up both cameras. But, it's something I'll do on a pretty regular basis. All right! Next question. This is a question regarding This is from Joel I. Lawrence. When do you use the 50mm Macro, and when do you use the 100mm Macro? I think the balance of when I use the 50 verses the 100 is probably, I use the 50 probably like 80% of the time. The 100 is when I want a super-close detail shot. I have used it less at this point in my career than I did earlier. In the early part of my career I used the 100 a lot. Because I was much more comfortable, closer to the food, because I wasn't at skilled at food styling, wasn't as skilled at propping. I didn't have as many props. So being closed to the food is something that was a comfort zone for me, and it was also it was sort of I was developing a style that way, baccate I was good at the macro aspect of the photography. So, now it's sort of just a when I really find that I want a really high detail close-up shot. I'll go to the 100mm, but for the most part, I shoot with a 50 more than any other lens. Andrew, JoGanna asks, "Do you ever create any recopies yourself?" I'd like to know that, myself. I did do a lot more of that when I was first doing my blog. I started my blog in 2007, and I was including recipe and I was developing recipes for a good portion of time. In recent time the last time I actually developed a recipe, and shot it myself was for an article for the Times. Where I created the recipe, I did everything myself that time. I went back to the way I use to work. Where I did everything. I developed the recipe, I wrote the story, then I did, the styling, the propping, and the photography all by myself, and I wrote about that process. I enjoy recipe development. I just don't have as much time as I use to. One of the things that I had as a regular feature on my blog was called, "Reclamation Recipes" and it was my way of recreating, repurposing food that were left over from photo shoots, and not wasting food. So I would re-create like kind of gourmet food based on all this other stuff that's all ready even been cooked, or chopped or used in something else. So, that's something I might go back to when I have some time, cause I thought it was fun and I like the message it sends about not wasting, but it was that was a cool way to kind of go about it. So that's something I like to do but I just haven't had time lately. Okay! Another great question that we have here. This is from Duke in Park City, Who asks, "Do you consider some degree of wide-angle distortion acceptable in Food Photography? As apposed to enlarging peoples noses. Do you always tend to go for shot zoom macro for food plates?" No. I think that there is gonna be I took a shot just recently I think it was Valentines day, so I guess that want that recent. It seemed recent. Where I took an overhead shot of a like a cafe table. That I created like kind of a romantic dinner scene in, and I noticed that after I got the shot, cause I shot it with the 50, that there was definitely some adoration on the edge. It didn't really change my opinion of the image. It was something I felt, I still felt comfortable publishing. So I guess the answer to the question is, yes. I wouldn't make it a regular habit to do something like that. In a special circumstance I would kind of let it go, and if I had to do it over again, I might do it a little differently to avoid that, but it didn't really do anything to detract from the image. So, it could be okay. Cool! Yeah! When you're taking that shot so you always set it up on the table, or do you ever put it on the floor? I always have it on the table, because I have a focus stand. If I didn't have the stand I wouldn't be opposed to putting it on the floor. Right. When I first started I had a lower table that was only a foot and a half off the ground, and I would stand over the table. So, yeah, I mean the over head shot is a difficult one to execute, if you don't have the the height on the camera, for sure. Yeah right. Cool! We got one last question. From a local. Steven from Ballard. "Andrew, what are your thoughts on marketing and finding work? How do you create a name for yourself? Do you network with vendors, like restaurants? Advertise with magazines or create close relationship with blogs and agencies? Well, we're gonna go over the business on day three in real detail. But I get asked that question a lot. When people wanna know how to kind of start in the business. Like how do you jump-start yourself? I guess depending on what you wanna accomplish you kind of start to form partnerships with people in your local area. So if you wanna be an Editorial Photographer my suggestion would be, there are always local publication, local Bloggers, people in the restaurant industry who are looking for photography and you start there and one of the things I've continually told people when that question gets asked is small by-lines lead to bigger by-lines. It's a grass-roots effort. You start and you build yourself up by making partnerships with local business, local newspapers, local bloggers and you show that you are a competent photographer and that's how you start to build up your portfolio.

Class Description

Learn how to break into the world of professional food photography with the world-renowned commercial photographer, stylist, and NY Times columnist Andrew Scrivani. During this mouth-watering workshop, Andrew will introduce students of all levels to the essential food photography tips, lighting, styling techniques, gear, shooting styles, post-production processes, and fundamental business principles needed to turn your hobby into your dream job.

Using his wealth of experience gleaned from working with industry-leading magazines and cookbook publishers, Andrew will take you step-by-step through the basics of recipe selection, food prep, and prop styling. On the second day of the workshop, Shauna Ahern (of Gluten Free Girl blog and book fame) will join Andrew to chat about food blogging, recipe writing, and how you can use food photography to make a beautiful blog that will grow your audience.

Whether you are a seasoned professional photographer looking to expand your skillset, or a novice holding nothing more than a smartphone, this workshop will provide you with the strategies, tips, and techniques needed to stand out, and land that delicious food photography job.


Kalissa Tozzi

This course shares great knowledge and information on food photography for people interested in doing this as a profession or as a hobby. I always had a curiosity to learn more about the topic because I love cooking and I love photography, but I had no idea about what it entailed. I think Andrew does a great job in covering the details of what food photography is all about for people who are new to it. He covers all the basics, and gives a very good foundation for students to take the next step (either to build a business or just have fun). Andrew comes across very humble, friendly and motivating which makes watching the videos and learning much more enjoyable and less intimidating.