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Photographing in Restaurants: Restaurant Detail

Lesson 27 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

Photographing in Restaurants: Restaurant Detail

Lesson 27 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

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Lesson Info

27. Photographing in Restaurants: Restaurant Detail


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction






Hero Shots


Motion in Restaurant




Restaurant Details


Lesson Info

Photographing in Restaurants: Restaurant Detail

It's after you've got your main things, which everybody expects your hero, your portraiture and everything else. This is pretty much all the little details from artwork to table, where two glasses. Teoh. You know just the feeling of I. Sometimes it's the details that create the feeling. The vibe. Sometimes it's the whole scene, so looking for both, totally. And we're just shooting like mad trying to find really cool stuff. So here we are, just kind of looking around and searching for details usually happens at the end, but we try to squeeze it in between, always try to squeeze it somehow there's a detailed shooting out, and like this, this is the main dining area. It's super small, super tight, but just working around, um, the place and fighting those special little mixing friends. Yes. Monica, can I have you here real quick? Just do the same thing here. You're gonna just going to be here, just like so this is the funny part. So this is the detail shot because they had the one wall of ...

cool and condiments and everything in cookbooks, and we she placed that red pepper mill grinder there for us to photograph. But with that, we'll just get a hand shot into. So I was kind of giving her direction. Todd was kind of giving her directions, so it gets confusing that right right hand. Which one's your tattoo once? It doesn't feel natural that way. I want to get it if you're putting something up. Well, I wanted to get the back of her head on. Okay. So well, due to we do this to people all the time. But she's lodging. She knows it's just the level that you don't would you three. Can you put your feet up there? Part of it, too, is like what? We're asking them to do things, like, have fun with the two. You know, it's like it, you know, joke around with them, laugh, trying to make the experience the best that you can for them. So that way they're not annoyed by you, like Oh, okay. No, there's came to this is like you just have fun. Everyone enjoy you enjoy shooting better, and they're gonna You're gonna get better. So it's sure to make sure that we think this is actually just a restaurant detail. But we just like you're just sitting there. Come on over. You know, it'll be where we're shooting stuff, and you happen to be there. We're gonna use you somehow. That's not your foot. It's gonna be your hand. So here, trying to get a detail of some hand activity in a restaurant detail. Would you tell this? Let me. Okay. Wiggle. Wiggle. You see how I'm resting my hand on that podium? Any opportunity I can to stabilize myself? I was gonna try for so there's kind of a hand reaching for that. So it's like, you know, because they just have these cool, that one Cool nick and cranny place. And she put that red pepper corn there. Brander there with that was school. And just like, Dad, that little can element was cool, too. So it's not just tm just doesn't work on this. I just helping back for that, Okay? Like Okay, freeze. Great. He's got one detail already. Okay, let's do detail that wine barrels, and we're gonna shoot one without motion in it. And one with somebody putting the book on the shelf, which might be we're gonna have you, um, face the bookshelf. That's gonna be the back of your head shot. I'm actually gonna shoot through the window. Okay? Yeah, You're gonna be here. Just they say. And then you're gonna pull which of those books if you're gonna pull one. Which one would you like a little bit shooting through a window? Do you want to just capture from air? You need it. OK, so you're gonna hold that. Just kind of give him directions. Just squeeze through it real quick. But this is one shot where Todd went outside to capture him through the window when I was captured and I was capturing him, pulling the book off the shelf. Did you bring a little more activity to that still life? So it's not Just hold it there. Just felt so much more great. Thank you. Here's one of just like a chauffeur grabbing a book and the ship again. The shadowing there in that corner was just awesome. Was just justfab fabulous. And it just great to show the back of someone's head. I'm totally cool with that. I don't always feel like I need a face. Like sometimes with the window shot. Sometimes it could be hard because you're getting the reflection of everything else coming off. So in that case, I framed him within where there are some trees. So those trees gave, like the dark spot where you can see chef through the window and then you have everything else can just reflect and show the neighborhood to because the neighborhood is often part of the restaurant as well. And then I want to shoot it without, and that's wedged between that door. Just want to show you how tight it was. You know, working together, you're always gonna have to make sure you don't step on somebody's toes, make it try. Don't slam the door into the camera. So we're just like this is just here to show you like how tight it is. And everybody is just trying to squeeze together. You know, me always being up against the wall and and just always like breaking my arm and just just to bring the cameras close as I can so I can get a whiter frame for that. I could easily put a 24 70 on could easily do that, get a wide get a 24 you know, with on it. But I'm all about perspective to you getting that compression on my 85. And I mean, the wall gives you a bit of stabilization, too. So sometimes you're using the wall as young to help make everything a little cleaner. And I liked making faces When I shoot No detail is everything I think. I think we're still on the same bookshop. So and that's the still life bookshop. But I just feel like that engagement of of him pulling something off was just so much more interesting. But you have to You have your you're not so safe, and then you have your safe. It doesn't hurt to have a safe. So I think there are we still in the book. So we're doing apron still shot. Do you have any other? Because I am always looking for other details. So you know how I love aprons with another way to be able to capture the essence of the branding of the restaurant is through anything here with the market branding on other than the business card, because it doesn't show on here. Right? Okay. That's okay. It looks great. It's OK. You know what, So here we're trying to find different things to make it not just like any like anybody else's aprons, because on their aprons that didn't have the logo on it. So I'm looking for other things. Like I said, the business card of menu or anything that has the logo on it and they're, like, kind of pouring through. I mean, they're really always involved when you ask them and they want to help. They were looking through to find menus and things like that and anything with a logo on it that wasn't like the business card. Sorry, I'm shooting. You know what we're trying to capture here is the really authentic. So this is a kind of real authentic fuel of the restaurant to the ladder, the coat hanger with the aprons. And then, you know, you know, it's like a little bigot of the restaurant. That was very cool. Um, because, you know, I love aprons, but I still wanted some type of branding there. So because it's such a small she found something. And there's so much such great detail, like, you know, this this apron shot just with the aprons hanging. So this one, we're gonna shoot dessert Less cool. One clean. Here. I could do this. I could dio like that, You see? No, it doesn't look good. You know, You just like like it just sucks. Just tell me. It's okay. Tell me. Diane doesn't look, I I figured it out, so we didn't do it. And then what? She ended up finding Was this very cool? She found a book. Oh, this one worked, actually. After after I pushed it in further because it was too flopping. I caught a little bit of this vignette of the aprons that says has a little menu. This is dessert, so they can use it in whatever they want. Just may be the highlight dessert. And And also to break up all that grey, too. So it's nice to have still life, but it's nice to have a little bit of tension somewhere to break up the frame. I think it We continued on for a while, looking for stuff, opening drawers, boxes. And she found this very cool. This is great, but it has a thin stools branding on. It has a sticker on it. So it's like a little note pad, little leather note pad. And I was able to get that and this is one of my feet. I need a napkin. Actually, I think I got it. So this is what I got with this one. I felt that one is like, probably the money shot. We'll still have the branding in a really natural way. You were trying to get their having the branding in a really natural way, without having like the orange business card or anything. And that book, definitely the color and the lighting on it complemented the flow in the mood of the aprons. It's always looking. I mean, I didn't know they even had that. Nobody knows they have that. But when we kept talking about thinking about what else can we use? And seriously, we start opening up drawers and everybody starts digging things up because they get so excited. So get them excited about your shot, get them involved, and when you get them involved, they really help make the process. When they're part of the creative process, it shoot always goes better, always better shots. They're happier. It's it's more fun. It's fun. So if I'm she's still shooting aprons, I'm taking it off. So here's another one. But again, there's that little walkway through the door. We shot another still life with putting a lot of these little details on their with ingredients. And we want to play with that another detail ingredient shot that was on the floor because we noticed the amazing texture on the floor. We noticed the amazing drum dramatic light in that corner, right? And then we're just, like, sprawled on the floor, trying to trying to work it out and getting the angle. But before we start shooting on the floor, we always ask them if they're cool. Some of the old school mentality is they want everyone to see that they don't want to see their stuff on the floor. Other times now, it's like we see that more and more. It's like there open to more creative approaches to their dishes. So just just a respect thing, always like when you're there, just asking. And it's not even that started shooting it on the floor, sometimes just shooting in places that they don't normally serve it. So just seeing if you're gonna take it outside its normal tyrants like so you guys cool with the shooting here? It's like a lot of times like you show him, like how excited you are about this sector. Like on cool. Let's do it. But just making here. We always like to make sure in double check before we And this one, we wanted to have a Yes. Okay. Just girl through here. So this is the before and that the block to Yeah. So this is before the box. So this was shooting it with the lighting, and we wanted to make it a little more moody, but that was shot in that little doorway on the floor. But we thought, How could we make Oh, great. Yeah. Use a trash can. This is awesome. Yeah. Yeah. So we didn't have, like, any black cards with that. So we needed to block like blocking, like getting that mood. So there's the black trash cans that's also let's use it. So we use the black trash cans to block the light more to direct the light more towards the middle and to create that drama, grab this one and then you for that. Just the way the light was commune. And so I liked the taller one to block like one particular side of first place that one's like. Now let's flip flop because of the shorter work. Better On the one side, the teller worked on the big one. It's like, Yeah, you just make it work. Yeah, Here we go. Look, it's professional, isn't it? And then we'll do the hand motion. So someone's gotta lay do yoga on this end, and I'm gonna So we're gonna pull from two different sections. We're gonna go sections we're gonna go like, OK, so that was the photo with the trash. Can you see the moon more? So that that was the mood shot. And then I said, OK, last shots very lash out to the end of this video, which is the mood for, um motion. So we told everybody You gotta lay on the floor, do yoga and all that stuff. So, you know, everybody was pretty much weight. Pose number two way move back and forth. But we wanted to get that motion without being too out far from the frame. So I just do this thing called wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. So I was cramping up at this point. E think he was like, What is that like like like it was Also, he was all into it. It was great. It was so great. If I had anybody else, I would hold him in and done that. But we're like, Hurry. Todd goes to be shooting, shooting, shooting and their it issues. You know that that is basically band. That's our hero show. And I think that's the shot that everybody was so drawn to. It took a while, you know, for about three of the two of us on the floor. But that little bit emotion and that little bit of engagement there makes it so much more authentic. Yeah, it doesn't feel so cold. I feel so much warmer. It feels engaging. And I add a little bit of life into the image for something that was shot on the floor in that little set in the corner using trash cans. So, yes, we can get a wet sometimes if we need to, but it still looks good. Okay, so here's the last few minutes here. Just get it going. And another thing we talked about, we're trying to bring in a little bit of the business card, so that's another part of the floor that was sitting up so any opportunity you do have to give your client a little bit of extra branding, especially with still life is awesome. And this is where when one chef said, you know, we might use this for Facebook. So as soon as we heard that, we knew that there's a certain cropping dimensions of the Facebook header, so we made sure that we, um, composed it to fit that header for that specific need. So always be conscious and be aware of what your client needs are so that it could be. You're what could be best represented in that way, and it's the most useful. That's the whole point. It's useful for that again. We're shooting on the floor again, utilizing every single resource that you have within that environment, using that light and the floor is awesome using that texture. So this was shot wide enough tour that could use it for a Facebook header crop. Having that branding, they're throwing that business card there. We also shot it again without the business card so they can plant there. Stamper Low, where there so always being flexible thinking of head ahead and how they can use that and just get creative and shooting on the floor. So how we shoot is you always see Todd and Diane on the floor yoga shooting in a corner with trash cans. That's how we roll style.

Class Materials

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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