Getting Started in Professional Food Photography


Getting Started in Professional Food Photography


Lesson Info

Prop Styling with Malina Lopez

This is our prop wall as it stands right now. This changes all the time. In fact, because we just moved in, it's almost half storage unit, half prop wall. I have a lot of cookbooks that I reference that I just enjoy looking at. I have a safe for absolutely no reason, there's nothing in there, so don't, you don't need to take it. But, it's important to have. If you're gonna have props on hand, I mean, Melina has her own, she has a home in Seattle that's just filled with props so when we a get a, if you want to come over here, I'm sure they'll want to feed a few questions to you. But you have a house in Seattle that's just got, the entire basement is just full of plates, full of kind of the larger stuff, Dishes, linens, yeah. Yeah. How many props do you think you have in here? If you had to count? Oh my gosh. Thousands? Hundreds. Hundreds. I mean, I have dishes, linens, flatware. And her house is a lot of fun to shoot in, so if I need a lifestyle shoot, which I'm not know...

n for, having a place that's really bright and airy and has a lot of windows, you do a lot of photoshoots in your home, too. Yeah, I do a lot in my home. 'Cause she has really cool tables, we did the pig's head photo, the floating, was the pig's, it wasn't floating. Yeah, it was the pig head, but yeah. Other things were floating. The pig's head shot was done in her home, and it was just a great environment to shoot in, and the pig's head ended up in the garbage can at the studio, and was there in the middle of summer for like a week. And somebody found a pig, mmm, anyway. (audience laughs) All this stuff we've, yeah. I'll go into disposing of food properly later on. But we have, this is a big key, and it was on Facebook yesterday. But I saw there was a linen store that was on sale, 'cause I get a lot of questions, how do you find props that are inexpensive? And sometimes you don't, they're just expensive. A lot of these wood surfaces that you see over here are a couple hundred a piece, few hundred a piece. It adds up in a hurry, but they're worth it. And they're dual sided, they're very textured. It's hard to fake, people are kind of, they're seeing when you kind of fake a surface, like a wooden surface. They know when you painted it, and when it's naturally aged, there's nothing quite like it. I do paint my own surfaces, but I'll leave them outside for like a week, I'll hit them with hammers, I'll do what I can. I'll paint in layers so that they genuinely look like they've been around. And some examples are much better than others, but they all translate pretty well to camera. I have a lot of silverware, this is just a little bit of it. I have some sliding drawers over there that just have tray after tray of every kind of spoon you could possibly imagine. That's where I keep, that drawer set is where I keep a lot of my papers. I collect paper. I collect everything that you can use on a set. But here, there was a fabric store that was going out of business, and they had all these samples up and there was no price. So I was like, are you gonna sell the samples? And they kind of looked at me funny, 'cause they're not seamed. But they sold them to me for less than a dollar apiece, so I just cleared them out, and I just filled up my, I kind of replaced the linens that were getting kind of 70s-looking and not very, you know, modern, with some really current looking stuff. I have a lot of white plates. A lot of these are in storage. I bring 'em out per project so when somebody asks me, you know, we have a mood board, we'll get it, we'll look at it, we'll see what can be brought in. Especially from your house, 'cause you have so much. What can be purchased, and what can be purchased and then returned, 'cause we're jerks. (laughs) That happens all the time, people at Sur la Table in Portland are like, oh no, here we go. We know what you're doing. And a lot of silver, just a lot of, a variety of things. And we also have a fake, I'll kind of go into the fake stuff versus the real stuff, I'm not afraid to use fake styling, fake food, when it's absolutely called for. We did a packaging shoot where we needed a pumpkin in the opposite season, I mean I luckily found one pumpkin that was at Met Market and it was the last one. And I couldn't believe I found it. But I was almost ready to make a model of a pumpkin, which I can do. And it looks, with a pumpkin it looks correct. But you can't do, I can't do a cantaloupe, I can't do, you know, cherries are out of season a lot of the year. And in commercial photography, there's no hiding, you can't just say well, it's not in season. I'm not feelin' it today. There's none of that. You have to get it. So you have to find a way. Vanilla flowers are important to have around. And I'll kind of give you the sources of where I purchase those things later on. But I mean, people use Trengrove Studios, you've heard that name before probably, where you get the fake ice. I actually went to, I don't know if I have the fake ice or not. I'll go through that when we do a set, but I actually went there in person to select ice, because I want, there's something I look for. And so I just don't let them deliver me any kind of ice. I went there in person while I was in New York. And he just pulled out all the ice cubes. It was really bizarre, he just lives in an apartment in New York, and he just laid out a bunch of ice cubes on the table. I'm like, that, I like that. But it worked really well, and I got what I wanted. And they're expensive, so you have to be, they're $50 apiece usually, and even for shards, they're $40, for a shard? I'm not sure, it's, I don't know. So this is the wall of props. But everyone's gonna be different. You collect stuff over time. You purge it, and then you renew it as styles change. And especially once you start working, the one thing I do wanna get across is with props and gear, once you start getting in to that semi-pro and pro level, the acquisition of gear doesn't become this insurmountable mountain to climb. It's not overly expensive once you're actually working on a regular basis. Some of these projects, they pay really well, they pay properly based on what they're asking for, it's copyright and all that, and licensing. But it sort of snowballs, and you get the gear that you need to make the job happen, and all of a sudden you realize, hey, I have all the gear I need, and you kind of lose, I don't have gear lust as much as I used to. But I'll go into the whole gear thing. That is a separate can of worms, shall we say. But I will address that, and that'll be a big fun part of this.

Class Description

With the advent of social media foodie culture, food photography is everywhere. The market is saturated with top-down smartphone images of cappuccinos, barley salads, and elaborate toast. This represents a real opportunity for photographers looking to expand their businesses. Professional photographers are in a position to provide high-quality, captivating images of delicious food for clients eager for an alternative to stock photography and social media images.

Join veteran photographer Steve Hansen for this comprehensive basics course, and you’ll learn:

  • How to shoot a beverage, main course, and dessert.
  • How to light and style your shots to get the most compelling images.
  • How to build out your basic studio gear to get the most out of your food styling and photography.

Steve will walk you through the basics of becoming a food photographer by drawing on his own experience as a chef, certified food stylist, and photographer. You’ll learn about the equipment you’ll need; how to interact with food and prop stylists, and direct them during a shoot; how to work with digital technicians and editors; and you’ll learn Steve’s tips for marketing food photography.