Skip to main content

Capturing Food on Location Part 1

Lesson 21 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

Capturing Food on Location Part 1

Lesson 21 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

21. Capturing Food on Location Part 1


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction






Hero Shots


Motion in Restaurant




Restaurant Details


Lesson Info

Capturing Food on Location Part 1

we're gonna be talking about restaurant photography, which is also another factor or a facet of food photography that a lot of you are interested in. And it's also a very important part because food just doesn't always happen on a plate. It doesn't always happen on tabletop, and it doesn't happen in your kitchen that happen in other kitchens. So the context of this lesson is not just going to be in a restaurant. Take those lessons and think about how you can apply those to, like a food festival or anything that happens on location. And with that, all the elements that we talked about yesterday in terms of lighting composition are all still going to tie into today's lesson. Biscuit just becomes in a more active, dynamic environment, and you also have basically the excitement of capturing stuff that's moving. You have. Action is bringing life to the scenes. So some of the things like the delighting. They may take a little bit secondary stage to what's going on because you like, particula...

rly when you're capturing the life of a restaurant no longer so much the plate, a dish which wants to get into capturing played dishes on location as well today. But when you're capturing the restaurant itself, when you capturing the chefs in action, those are things it's going to be. Then it's like you. The first priority is basically just capturing that moment. You know, that's so much. What we do is photographers, its composition, lighting and it's capturing moments. And now that capturing a moment becomes the forefront, So so how it all starts and how we started in restaurant photography was really kind of quite by accident, too. It's because we started in or I started in portraiture and special event. That transition kind of made sense, moving over to restaurant food. And then from there it went to table top in everything. So the transition to shooting restaurant with a little bit easier. It wasn't so hard and so much of a struggle shooting tabletop because all those kind of skills that I hadn't photographing people and events applied to a restaurant scene. But there are also many different challenges. So how we start when we think about going into a restaurant scene or any location seen, you still have to back up. I'm a couple steps and how we back up is we think about an idea. So it always starts with the pursuit of an idea of learning and exploring. And that's how we approached restaurant photography because first we were still new. So we knew that wasn't gonna be like photographing babies of photographing a family on a beach or anything. So we still had to take it from a fresh perspective. How can we learn from a restaurant seen? How can we learn and explore a restaurant in a different way, as photographers rather than diners? And we sat and thought about it in terms of how we can relate that action to food to taste and to all the senses that apply to location a restaurant. So we came up with DOT and Diane's five senses a food photography because, like, unlike people, talk about the five senses. See, taste, feel emotion. And we feel like in life. All those same type of senses apply to food and food photography, whether it's still be tabletop location and particularly when you're shooting on location in restaurant, those senses are even arm or obvious, and these are all the sort of things that your whiskey trying to capture like while you're shooting in a restaurant. It's like you're trying to capture the taste. The sense of a dish better chef has. If that that dishes spicy, it's like, How do you capture that within the image? How do you capture a dish, which is This is so clean and bright and fresh Those sort of things when you're capturing the taste something the smells you know. Some chefs are incorporating smells, actually, in addition to their dishes. Other times just the smell of the restaurant itself. You know, you go into a great pizza and you just smell that would fire pizza. It's like, Oh, yeah, sometimes you don't It doesn't directly, um, translate into the image, but just your kind of aware of it. And it just becomes part of that experience. You're living that experience and just finding a way that you can capture it into the image, particularly with the restaurant or any type of location, seen or food festival. The smell is so amazing, you know when we cook at home. If we cook one dish, it smells great. But when you walk into a restaurant, it's 10 times more, and that that whole visual explosion of taste sense is just amazing. So it could be overwhelming. But how we break it down as we think about all these little elements and try to capture them in each image, like one way when you'd be capturing, smell and say You're seeing a food festival and they have, you know, that open grills and they're grilling squids again. You capture that visually, but a lot of times you as a person viewing it. It's like when you see the smoke coming off the grill, you see the squid there. It's a you can feel it. You know, when you're in, it's like you smell that squid just sizzling agents way. Just had those Agent Night market, which was like Amazing think squids delicious. And another is a sense of place getting a feel for where it iss. Is it a modern restaurant? Is it a more traditional restaurant? Is it a bar? Is it a family restaurant? Um, where it is, It's not just within the environment and within the walls, it's where it is. Is it in Europe? Is it in somebody's home kitchen out in rural America somewhere or another country that that place to really identify and to be able to capture. That is so important because sometimes when you look at that itself is the hero. See all these things back to what we were talking about yesterday are heroes for us. They're just not literal heroes in terms of an object, but they're more emotional type heroes. And so the next one is a sense of time. Give us or give your viewers a sense of the time of the meal and time just doesn't mean like, 12 o'clock, like a lunch or breakfast, you know can mean so many other things to remember with the last pie shop that we did. You know, it kind of felt like, you know, you say, fellow Grandma's right. It's like it gives you a sense of time and place because it kind of like pulls you back a little bit. You know, it makes you feel little vintage like you're stepping back in time a little bit, gives you a sense of place like you're at grandma's house or would you say for would you you I forget what you said for the pie. Um, where did make you feel? Do remember just kind of an old fashioned back in the day is that, you know, And you said like I outdoor like a picnic. I think you have to. Yeah, And it was just those sort of things where it's like it makes you feel like it's in a particular time, you know, And sometimes it's Maybe it's morning. It just makes it feel like it's morning. Other times, maybe the time of year make you feel like it's spray holiday fall. You know those sort of things. Yeah, So I think about timing the time and in the photo. And next is lastly, which is most important to us, a sense of authenticity. Authenticity can mean so many different things, but it's that emotional part for, like engagement, experience, feeling emotion and just the real nous of the image. So often when we shoot sometimes, like when we shoot certain editorial for certain clients, they want it really staged in perfect and which is really beautiful. But at the same time, it just doesn't feel so riel sometime, and then when you kind of step back and shoot something that wasn't planned or wasn't staged or wasn't on the script, on the shot list. It's always everybody's favorite shot because everybody says it feels so rial. You know, all the pre pro and prep time that goes into staging this one perfect shot was great, but when you shoot something random that's so riel, it always ends up being chosen. So it's those rial shuts that people really resonate with. And I feel like that's why when we go into a location, what just part of I want to make it real? To me, I mean some opportunities to create that. I mentioned it briefly yesterday. It's like when you set up and we're doing that stage shot were basically setting it sometimes spent an hour, half hour hour on just that individual shop for that location. It's like you basically, you have the camera, it's set up. Everything is styled for that angle. Everything is set for that angle. It spent forever on it. And then after that is done in the books. Cool. You got your safe shot, you drop down and you just run around and find different angles that are not set up that are not set for that particular angle for that thing is like Also, you've taken a state shot and then you also giving them something that's a little bit more authentic. And that's why I think a lot times they gravitate to those later shots, even though that wasn't the one which the creative director where the client had initially envisioned, that was what they wanted me through this picture and kind of give you like this is a dip photo we have. But to us, we're always like drawn to that sense of taste and texture and flavor. And this is a photo that kind of gives you an example of taste and smell and texture and flavor and all those things. And sometimes if it means making a little bit messy sometimes, Um, and particularly in a restaurant shoot, it can be a little tricky because they have their plated vision and there's a certain precision that goes into a chef's idea on a plate. But there's always a little leeway after where you can kind of maybe miss it up a little bit, you know, se Chef Ugo, you've got your safe shots, maybe weaken dislike, mix it up a little bit because that makes it rial. You know, it makes it so relatable in so many ways. And next talk is when you're going on a shoot when you're photographing for other food stories, it could be for yourself. And it could be for many of reasons. Some people always ask us like what we shoot restaurants who use? Why would anybody want to shoot a restaurant? Who would you shoot for? Well, there's a lot of ways to make occur out of restaurant photography. One are editors of magazines or food publications or online food websites. Editors are always looking for restaurant scenes cause they're always covering restaurant news. Restaurant updates Chef news, chef interviews Those air really valuable stories for them, and it's valuable content that you could be providing if that is what you're interested in. So if it's always been a hobby for you to get your IPhone or camera to shoot photographs for your blog's, maybe you can't make a career out of it. Um, other clients, like Nash restaurants, are definitely clients. They always need photographs of the restaurant and your food menu item chefs across the board. There's tons of opportunities for a restaurant photography. You could do it as a like I said, a hobby or you can do for your blog's, you know, if that's people loved it out. And one way to express that way of eating out is is having a food restaurant review or just talking about where you eat. You know, there's so many people that are interested in that, like for us when we go to a city, we're always interested in fighting out where the best restaurant is, and sometimes it always ends up on somebody's blawg. You know they're the ones and were drawn to the restaurant a lot of times by the pictures, you know, and they're real words because everything seems so real rather than these kind of restaurant sites or collective big conglomerate restaurant site. So those personal blog's and those personal pictures that you all shoot and put on your block from the restaurants really draws into it and makes us want to go eat there. So those are the people on the different occasions that you would use restaurant photography. So again, it's just not a hoppy. It can be an actual full pain career exes capitalist. So when you're at the restaurant, what are the things that you want to shoot. There's always a capture list that the editor, um, or the editor that sends you to that restaurant for the story with the client. The agency. That art director. There's always some type of list that you have to follow. Sometimes it would be the restaurant itself. Sometimes maybe it's the PR agency for the restaurant, particularly if there may be a little bit of a larger group. Some of them are using PR agencies sometimes multiple, sometimes multiple. You know, other times like she said, it will be and magazine, whether be online magazine or a print magazine. They're sending out for a particular thing. Let's say they wanna capture a particular a new chef for a new dish or they're going to be having a particular article that they're gonna be running. So they need to capture something around that's relating to this article. Um, there's a ton of different scenarios where it comes from and that, you know, that's where it begins. That's where the story begins in that sense is it's given to you. It's like you're giving. You're giving a biscuit objective that you need to accomplish when you're shooting a couple of things that we think about when we go into a restaurant scene is food portrait. But portrait can be a couple things that could be portrait of the food because that is the hero. And sometimes there is no chef. There's just the food. Food portrait can be the chef chef with the food or any type of kind of individualized, singled out hero so doesn't have to be unnecessarily scene. It's a single about hero. Either be in the food of the person subject story in the content of their food. There's always so much story in a restaurant now. If you just talked to the owner of the restaurant, the chef, and why they started the restaurant, what their inspiration for the restaurant was. If you have to take a moment to talk and listen to that, that's going to really help you develop your capture list. And lastly are details and close lips. Don't forget those. Sometimes we walk in and we keep shooting wide, and we think about the full experience. Let's not forget everything that's tiny and my new and all the little details so that capture list you develop yourself over years, or a couple a couple different shoots, and you'll find that that capture list will change with every restaurant and every client. And you know how you figure out how it changes is you. First, you start by. If you've never been to the restaurant, try to go there before you even gonna shoot it. So that way you just know what the vibe was like in the place. Have dinner there. I think it's a great way to experience it, just as just a regular consumer to see what they're offering the world. And then, you know, another time, even if you don't have time to visit the restaurant before, I must say it's super popular place and they just our books and, you know, it's like you just can't get in for months. And events at least do your research behind it, you know, you condone, visit their sites, their their pages, what they say about the restaurant. What's their voice trying to understand more they're coming from and what they're trying to present to the world? One way Weather's you're there physically, or at least from what they're offering online. So there's a we just I showed you a couple set. Want to show you a couple examples of how our clients use restaurant shoots? This is for a summer catalogue for Hollywood Bowl Farinella. The Hollywood Bowl is like one of the big premiere big venues, outdoor venues for concerts, and they have an amazing food program there where they develop and cooking and just serve wonderful food. So we, um, one of the things is for declined that we shoot is they need these images to sell, and they not only use them for print or they use them for Web and promotion and marketing. They use them for other catalogues. So a lot of times and the chutes on location, a lot of clients don't want that interior feel. They want that outdoor feel. So in this sense, for this client, the story with was of It was to show outdoor because the story is outdoor summer Hollywood Bowl. So how to capture that was obviously to shoot everything outside. And then one of the challenges that we talked about his outdoor lighting, which we'll talk about later, and how to really capture that and then the food is obviously all is all cooked by the chef. So the this is all spec food. But this is one way that a lot of our work for restaurant photography is used by clients. It's really valuable to them because again, not only did they use it for menus, they use it for marketing. They use it for promotion, and, um, they use it to sell for other catering programs to, and they also do outside catering. So these images for restaurants are super valuable. They use them all the time, and they can never have enough. So when we're shooting these two, it's like we're trying to keep in mind how they're going to use them. A lot of times we were shooting for clients. Where are they gonna be? Adding type on top? Do we need to give them a space like this one with the slider shot of head space where there's enough open there that they can add text on top and be able to use it? Um, so we're capturing that sense. At the same time, we're keeping in mind the graphic elements and also the crop of how they're going to use it, because now LA Times like with this one. And with a lot of these shoots they're gonna be using in the same image and made different formats. Whether they're gonna be putting on the block post put on Facebook, they're going to be putting it into a print menu. Um, other advertising uses they have for it. So most on when you're shooting these, you're shooting it whiter. You're not gonna crop so much in camera. Now you're gonna shoot a wide enough that they can play with it in multiple different ways. Uh, that's a question I have for you. Do you provide clients with pre images that are already sized correctly for social media, or do you give them one image and then they deal with it If it depends on the client, it's a great question. There's basically that's a discussion will have with the client. And we are I philosophy is more or less just to make it as easy for them that they want whatever they want, we give them. And so, um, well, how we approach it is first we always ask, what's your crop factor and that put that on your capitalists. Not only do we shoot the hero and everything to make it pretty well to think about prop factor and graphics. So we're gonna ask him Are you gonna be using this for graphics? They'll say yes. So if you're the top down type person who likes to fill the frame, be a little careful cause you know you're gonna need really need to leave space, like, for example, this one here, you know? So all those things we ask before we start shooting is how you're gonna use it once they tell us how you gonna use it. They often only say I only need one crop or I need four crops. So when you know that you have to step back and say, OK, I know they need four different crops, So I've got to make sure I shoot enough and maybe four different angles. Make sure accommodates those four different crops because of Facebook head. A crop is completely different from like a recipe card crop or catalogue crop. Once we decide that, then we talk about the different crops and how we're going to deliver. So if they have their own in house graphic designer, they will be able to crop and decide all their own creative ways to interpret the photo. But for us, when we're shooting, there's a certain way that we shot to represent the story of the photo. Because as you crop, you change the image. Always, you change the story. So what we'll do is once we know their crops will actually upload them low rise low rez to an album for their desire, nor to see how we cropped it and in what factor, So that they know. Okay, because they talked to the art director. They wanted it this way, so the graphic designer could make sure that they cropped it that way. So they have that as a visual stamp or visual reference and in terms of delivery. Usually we will only send to one full high rez as wide as possible. So the graphic designer could have all that space to play with and will usually send one cropped, low rez version just for like, marketing to use right away. So it's that high rez, wide, extra wide version for the graphic designer and sometimes will only shoot it one way but will stage it to make sure that they can crop it. Five different ways for five different uses because they don't have the budget to shoot a five different times. So, yes, when we load, we usually only give them to files last time, most the time to sometimes just one. But if someone requests something different like sure, no problem we want to make it is easy for them as we can. It's no big deal to send. The Metro is just going to take a little extra time. Um, like, she said about the crop to the crop also gives them, particularly the graphic designer who's gonna deal with the final files. What we had in mind when we were shooting, because a lot of times when we're shooting, when we asked for that crop ahead of time, when we're shooting and critical when we're tethering, will drop that crop straight onto the image so that the person they create the creative whoever is on set giving the creative approval, they basically say, Yeah, I like it. So they know, like with what crop that we're dealing with and what is envisioned when someone sees that UN cropped file. Sometimes they don't quite understand what was in mind when it was originally shot. So that way it gives the designer and ideas. This is what these guys liked when the the images final. They know it's like, you know, like some of the things that we joked about yesterday. It's like, You know, if I cut this offer left this office, you kick my Yeah, it's insert myself a good job at a C, you know, But they might not know that they might just cut off a line in a linen, which gave something great to the frame, gave that little extra bit to it, but they didn't understand that. So this kind of gives them a guiding point to use that has your tether, your importing intento light room with a preset maybe already set so that it's appreciated. Yes, usually it's a crop, which is really easy, but sometimes they have a graphic from the designer like, for example, in this case they had. This is their website header. There's a strict dimension to it. They know they need the type to be that big, so we have to build the scene or the food around that graphic so it could be either way sometimes sometimes don't know the graphic so they'll build a graphic after some have a very specific graphic. And so we build around T kind of two different things will happen to different scenarios one like she talked about when they have a graphic NFS I or something where it's like it's maybe gonna be read in the newspaper. And so this image has to go live in this place. So that will actually make a difference team because a lot of times those graphics, they'll have color. They'll have different things going on. So you need the image to breathe nicely with them. And so, like within light room, there's in the print module. You can basically set it up, so that drops it straight into the image straight underneath that graphic. You just have it as a PST or something that has that free space underneath. And you can just size it, drop it in. The other scenario, which is used more often, is just when you're straight tethering. What we do is use Samos previous and so you have ah little thing at the top on the tether bar where you can either have developed setting, so it none you have presets where you just have Samos previous. And so that way we can kind of quickly do it on the fly and particularly at these points were usually, um, tripod or camera stand. So the camera's locked into place angle staying the same every time we fire it. We crop it to however we feel is right or in coordination with the creative on set. And so we have our angle and we have our crop. Now, as we fire and we change that develops having the same as previous is gonna remember that exact same crop that exact same placement for the next shots off the shots which go after that. So that way, you can basically say your crop once and then boom, each shot after that becomes very quick and just part of the workflow. It's really seamless to So once you've had all that in place established and talked with amongst everybody involved in the shoot, next thing you gonna go, next thing you're gonna do is going to the restaurant, think about what you're gonna shoot, which is portrait's action and behind the scenes going to show you some of some images we shoot for clients and kind of Naret you through what we thought about when we got it went into there and what we got. Rizwan. Um, this is a culinary school and there's a lot of activity in a culinary school. They had a really big shot list. This is ice culinary in New York City, and the shot list was huge. It was a really long four day shoot, and it was a great learning experience. It was awesome, though. Would always do it again. I had the camera to my face so much at the time. I feel like someone who just punched me and my nose. Just because just the cameras here for, like 15 hours, four days straight, really challenges I athletes might say what was one of the highlights of your career and shoot? I would have to say it was this project. It made me a better person, a better photographer, Yeah, and gave me a really strong bladder. A. There's a lot of great things that came out of it, but when we go into issue, there's so much activity in a cooking school, it's just incredible, particularly one in New York City. It takes up, I don't know, like eight floors. So in this obviously wanted to capture activity. But when we go when we always I don't always remember to get a safe shot, a safe shot in every which way possible just because there's always a person somewhere on the team or the client. And or maybe there might be a use where they don't need something always so creative or so motion or so like artistic. So don't forget it's okay to get a safe shot, because guaranteed even when we go into a project where they want something crazy and artistic, let's say, Did you happen to get, like, just a simple photo like, Oh, we're talking? You're talking about the safe shot. Yeah, we got that. So always get your okay. It's almost It should be mandatory for you to be like that should be used. It almost sometimes is warming up, although with portrait you kind of want to let the subject warm up just to get a little better images for it. But make sure you're getting that safe shot, everybody. So in terms of portraiture making to get you to the chef shot, I'm looking at the camera can look away, but it's the where he, before he's all dirty or sweated or anything like that, that that's always really important to get that Seif portrait shot and and also when you're doing the portrait shot like he was making bread, always get some type of detail while you're at it. So try to do multiple things at once because sometimes in a restaurant things only happened one time. Things not only only happened one time, they're totally out of your control, so I don't get to re sync the beans back in there. They were do all these things again. It happens one time. If you're lucky, they might do it a second time, but otherwise you got to be prepared. So always make sure wise, close. You know, we shoot really fast, issued a wide. You shoot a close to shoot as many different great angles as you can, and you really have to begin to anticipate. So this is any time you're saying daily action. You have to be ahead of the game. You have toe be ahead of what's gonna happen. Have your body in position where you ready to capture it be. And as soon as that happens, you have to be ready, particularly the chefs that are good, that you have those adept hands their fast. I mean, you'll see there's del fillet, a fish, you know, like a whole fish in a minute, Max. You know, it's like from poo poo poo poo poo poo on. You'll see that that later. Because we went and we did a pre show shoot at the restaurants. All this is gonna be live for you to see on video. And next thing that you can get your documentary shows something with a little more emotion reaction getting their real personality. This is Chef, um, Sim. Cast an amazing, amazing baked pastry chef. Just amazing. There is his very, you know, very nice, handsome smile, you know, And then, you know that's his dating. You know, there's a very serious, very serious, very talented, worldwide respected instructor, So try to get both of those and try to get both personalities within a person to just because sometimes they always want toe get something that is a little bit more intense because sometimes there's a campaign or an email blast or some type of marketing project that needs something that shows a little more serious side of the chef in the restaurant and again, shooting, always getting detail like this one was shot with him, making stuff somebody you know had this speed rack of bread swinging out so immediately that was shot at the same time. So all these were literally shot within like a few seconds of each other, so I always melted. It's like it wasn't shot, I think. Do we move the rack to, like I know where he's moving things all around me? That's why I think that we talked about finding the light. You know, sometimes when you have the opportunity is like you're moving something to a place where it has a little better light than versus where it naturally was in the kitchen. But ask, always be respectful. The kitchens, you know, it's like that's their land and you have to respect that. That's the first. Our first rule of thumb, anytime we're going into place is giving them the most respect we can. We're asking, you know, and making sure things were cool with them, and almost invariably, they always say, Yes, it's like They know that for the most part, that you're there to help highlight them. But it's still It's like they don't like people stepping on their toes. And so you just make sure that you're respectful of it. Stay out of the way, especially can make sharp knives. Yes, this was a shoot that we got called out for Chef Wolfgang Puck on a lead to cost flew in from France, and it was a very special evening, and we knew going into this shot it was in Beverly Hills. It was in Bel Air, so we knew there's a certain air and vibe and of a certain story that we had to capture. Um, you know, highlighting two very well known master chefs and, you know, they always wanted the safe shot. You know, they know within that, you know, marketing, you know, world. And you know, their clientele. They love these type of shots. So for us we felt like, you know, we wanted to capture something a little bit different, and we knew that they're so busy planning and all these other things they're not always so actively hovering over a stove in the restaurant, cooking their role at this point in their life and career is more managing, managing and overseeing and planning. So we knew we weren't really gonna get so much of them in the kitchen, and so we just kind of watched him in a little bit, and I kind of followed him around. And I realized what they love to do is just to talk, because they were like best friends. They've been working together for so many years, and these are two people who truly, truly respect each other. So it kind of hit back and just kind of watched him a bit, noticed that they just had their moment talking. So I just captured a bunch of pictures with them being friends. As to colleagues who have cooked together for so long, not a chef's just as friends. Just Chef Puck. And because so a lot of these images really share that story of the friendship because going into the porch Torretta and you've got your perfect hero shot. But how else can I capture them? They're out of the restaurant. Let's capture that relationship, that friendship, that years of collaboration and respect that came that really comes down to this one special evening for them to to come together and cook for for a small group of people for a private dinner. And that friendship in that conversation is always really important. Because personally, I'm always curious what they're talking about talking about this crazy Asian girl hiding paparazzi CS. Is that so? I think of it that way, but I always felt like always capturing things even that's not within the kitchen. And that relationship in that friendship, in this sense, was with super important. But and you see that so much anything kitchens to, um, just that camaraderie between sometimes Winston outside chef coming in and other times it just within the kitchen itself that that's a huge part of the culture inside behind the scenes of a kitchen of that camaraderie and being able to capture that when you can just I've just started reading between the lines. So when you guys are working together as a couple, if you're doing Table top, are you usually the person shooting? And if you're on location, are you usually the person shooting portrait or you both shooting portrait's Or how do you work that out? Because every question people ask that all the time. So we go for each other strong points. Um, we both can pretty much do everything. There's some things I feel Diane is better at than I am sure some things that she feels that I'm better at then then she is. And so well, um, let the other person take the lead in either one. Whichever is more appropriately for styling. She rocks it on styling. So it's like if one of us is gonna be styling one of its gonna be shooting while she's gonna style, I'm gonna shoot. She could shoot it just as well as I could, but, you know, it's like she gets. She has that styling edge. So she does that when it comes to shooting in the restaurants. Actions like we're pretty much dead even were usually both shooting. It's almost becomes like a wedding shoot when you have ah, 1st 1st and second, except for their almost two first. And we're just trying to stay out of each others way when it comes to portrait work. Then it becomes almost then it becomes, at first and second, where it's like, um, students off her experience in the portrait world. She usually takes the lead on that, and then I'm doing second, sometimes as second shooter, sometimes filling. So it's like a biscuit is pulling off each other's strong suits and letting that highlight and then just working together. Whatever works best for the individual shop where yeah, whatever it off. But when? When it comes time to certain situations, one of us will just take the lead we never talked about. It just happens, you know, go. Or if I happen to be in the kitchen, where there, they need portraiture and he happens to be there, he's gonna take on the lead. So there's always that sharing of roles, and we're totally comfortable. That was absolutely no egos between us. We've dropped that 18 years ago, you know, and you have to, you know, to be living together and working together and to be able to still go home and have a decent home life. One of the roles and when the goals we had when we wanted to work together is letting all that go so we can actually come home and live a real life. So because of that, that transition over into the workplace is always that discussion of no egos here. Okay, we're here to work together. If you want to take it, take it. I don't mind. I'll step back and how we can support it and how we support each other. That's really born. The legal question, because you're talking about people. How do you deal with a model release with a lot of people in a restaurant? And, you know, because those images are for the client or you may using what not So is there just one blanket that is dealt on the client and we chose a long time ago. We ran our business not to deal with model release forms because that's not what I want to do. You know, we've decided I I started a long time ago when I was younger, very ambitious, want to do everything under the sun, and I realized, God, it's a pain in the butt to do all this. So when we can eliminate all these other variables and our work to make our work easier so we can just focus on the creative, I'm all for that. So in terms of model release forms, we deal with none of it. Unless it's stock situation, which is different. We don't deal with it. And in the same situation when you came in here and creative live, there's a blanket disclaimer when you enter. So, um, the institution, the agency, whoever in charge will take care of that. And there's a release of liability on our part. So we're able to share were in the right context. Course we can't sell it. We can use it for certain promotional purposes. We can use it for educational purposes. We can't use it for resale purposes cause they own it. But in terms of all those, the client deals with it all. So if somebody ever gets sued, I have no idea. I can always ask him. I just don't ever want to deal with that because I am a photographer. I'm not a legal consultant, so I'm Some clients are surprised, even on shoots like, Oh, you don't hire the models. You don't do what that we say. No, we'd rather have you do with it and it makes our life so much easier would be surprised and a like for like for the hiring models that almost becomes it's in their best interest to hire the look that they want. You know, for them it's like you have your vision of what you want. So when you bring in whatever people you want, well, we'll go from there. And that's how we will talk about business later. We love talking about that because there's so many things we don't want to dio. And we're very open with about talking about that. And we're very honest with clients. There are many things we don't do. Let us tell you first, before we tell you what we owe, Um, I get another shot of those two in the kitchen. I mean, so much of this was going on that night. It was just hard not to capture them. Just talk. And that was for real. It wasn't for camera, it wasn't for press. And there was a lot of press there. They just were really having a good time trying to escape press and all these these these moments of having to do interviews just toe have the little conversation. They both have such cute smiles. They do Teoh because, like this little boy Yeah, this is amazing. You have a crush it like getting details I was really important to this is and getting till detail, not just of the food in terms of what they cook but also details of them. Um, this is actually Chef to costs, tying his apron and looking at him. He's just a really handsome, great structure, very charismatic chef, and he's just very lean do. And he just had this really great body structure. So he was in the corner. Tying is is apron. I said, No, chef, can I Can I get a picture of you? You know, with your apron, you make sure he walked over and started posing like, No, I don't want your face. Actually, I didn't shoes, but I just want to shoot down here. He's like, down here apron. You know, so big French. You can flirt with a twinkle of e. I just love him. He's just so flirty and oh, actually, I want to shoot below the way English and French. It was hard to communicate, but you know, being a woman, and that's where the advantage of when I take the lead and shooting chefs where a lot of time and they're particularly their mail. You know, there's a lot of there's a lot of ways that I can work with them being a woman, just chatting, talking Florida whatever it is to kind of, I think they're not comfortable in front of camera is like the last thing they want to pay. Later. Teoh behind their knives, uh, getting him tying in it just thought that's always and love apron tying. I love those details. I'm obsessed with aprons and what people do with them, how they tie, how they were because that apron is your like your protective clothes. It's a very important part of of the chefs tools along with his knife and things like that. So don't forget that e. I mean, for me. I was just working in the restaurant. It's like when tying apron, it's like it's that first ritual that you go through before you even start work. It's what begins your day. It's, um there is something that's very ritual. Yeah, yeah, you know, it is very deep within us. Even though it's such a simple task, it's, you know, it's one of those things which is very indicative of the business and, you know, getting his beautiful plated, um, elegant dish, very high and fine dining. And then, a year later, after we shot, they actually asked us to come back again and shoot another special dinner with Buck Jeff. Um, Roy Choi of Los Angeles. Use R L. A's rock star. We'd love him. He is the most real guy ever. Deserves every single bit of success to his name. Absolutely wonderful guy. But you know, he's a bad ass, you know, he really is. He's just he's, he's, he's auto. He's also so awesome and in part of it, too. He's such a warm, loving guy because he he grew up in in L A group in some Really, You know, L. A neighborhoods and just could be really tough and strong to is very strong, focused and strong looking that there's just this warmth to him and got him to smile a little bit. And this just just wanted to get this part of his personality, because before we go into any project, we go online and research all the images that are already out there for the chef to get an idea of who they are. First, best side best angle I will always do that before I go and shoot a subject. I always research first, particularly shuts ago to see how they talk, profiles and everything like that. Anything that I can to give me a little bit of homework to be able to help make my job and photographing them better. And you notice there's a lot, a lot of pictures with him smiling and wanted to see that. So when we met him, he was just so friendly, and I captured this stuff Supercenter. He's like a brother, you know. He could be like your brother, your neighbor. And then the detail, of course, is awesome Food that is just so visual and so real. Putting a full like Santa Barbara spot prawn on there and showing part of, you know, his tattoo That was okay just to give a little bit of his personality and who he is. He had some cool shoes to is different shot. You know that that's that's the world trade that I remember. Just like he's like, Looks like a brother and and, um and then another part is always capturing the serious side of him. You know, not looking at the camera shooting that activity and things like that. We're also very bored. Side by side, hand in hand. I have my safe smiley shot, my magazine cover shot and then the detail documentary work. Um, natural wheel shot the Foleys you like so much the focus that they have. You know, it's a big part of what they especially good chefs. They have a great focus of what they're doing. At the same time, you have a greater awareness of everything else going on around them. So finding ways that you're capturing, capturing either or try to feel what your subject is, what, what it is that they're doing besides, and not just sense of, like, physically, what they're doing but kind of tried to get in their heads of what they're doing mentally, whether it's focusing on this dish, making sure it's perfect, tasting it, taking care of those details or if they have, or if they're in a moment where they're seeing everything that's going around them and orchestrating this barely on the verge of controlled chaos,

Class Materials

bonus materials with purchase

Gear Guide
Places to shop for Food Styling Props

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

First, thank you to Diane, Todd and the CreativeLIVE team for a wonderful exploration of "shooting" food with artistry. This course offers the beginner and professional photographer many incites into the world of natural food photography. With some business and lifestyle tips the majority of this course showcases an effective natural shoot style that allows anyone to deliver wonderful images. The strongest point I found useful is to “find a voice” for the story, your images or your client. While I understand “finding the voice” when writing copy it is the realisation that any activity can have its own voice. Your voice can be the style of image you like, the shoes you wear, the books you read, etc. it is not limited to how loud you (or anyone else) shouts. Using general principles and building good habits through practise will allow you (and me) to achieve, not just find, success. The “lighting clock” is a useful shorthand helping communication with clients, producers and peers. The strong emphasis on practise, speed and taking advantage of any appropriate situation both improves productivity and reduces the impact on a client. Last but not the only other gem in this course is the bald (not a joke Todd) fact that any photography business was, is and will always be based on the relationship between the photographer and the client. Building a relationship is the best marketing device any photographer, food stylist, entrepreneur or creative mind can develop. Other courses offered by CreativeLIVE also stress the relationship aspect of good businesses as their best marketing asset. I highly recommend this particular course for lovers of (in no preferred order) food, photography and life. Thank you for reading and I hope you find your voice in all things. FJH...


Diane and Todd are amazing! They've held nothing back when giving the rest of us an honest, detailed look into what it means to be a food photographer. I've seen many seminars on the topic from different companies and photographers and this one is my favourite. I love their no fuss approach to food photography. It leaves me feeling like food photography is manageable without having to fuss with cameras and lighting gear that are outside of my budget. I love that Diane often mentions how there's more to food photography than the plated dish. And Todd is just adorable and has the cutest laugh! They're a fantastic team that are engaging and make it easy to learn from them. Highly recommend purchasing this course!

MAlisa NIcolau

I loved this class and how Todd and Diane taught it. It was very personal and inspiring, with lots of insight and tips. This is not a camera technical class, but more an artistic, motivational and visual food photography learning environment. Their examples on how to set up scenes and stories behind the food and people involved are very enlightening. They gave me a lot of great ideas and hope that I, one day, will become as good of a photographer as they both are. Great team!!!!

Student Work