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Shoot: Dessert

Lesson 12 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

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Lesson Info

12. Shoot: Dessert


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction






Hero Shots


Motion in Restaurant




Restaurant Details


Lesson Info

Shoot: Dessert

Let's say we have a simple subject with a little more color on there too. So we're gonna shoot a raspberry tart with a heart start start cheerios, raspberry tart when I add some more layers on here and we're gonna have some fruit and stuff let's, say, it's, a raspberry strawberry tart. Okay, we have to make stuff up as we go here. So I've just decided that this is a raspberry strawberry tart. So it's a raspberry tart with strawberry glaze. So that's why I could put the strawberry okay, just made that up right now. Okay, he's going to shoot. So we're going to shoot a second subject just for this one again. Simple creating the mood a light, bright and airy mood for this. And if at home you can see this sport and later for all of you can come and see the sport has pretty much six difference last summer lot smoother. Some are a lot more coarse and shooting in a situation like this, where there is so much bright light, I know that I'm gonna want to make sure I maintain the integrity of the ...

board. So I'm actually gonna move this over here because I know that this is not gonna be blown out as this slap, so that's part of it the reading light too is understanding how it's going to read off your surface so although it sze white, they all can shoot differently so on set when we're shooting, I'm always moving around I'm always looking at how the lights going toe fall off this slap versus the slats I want to choose this lap just because it has all this cool coarseness here and I which angle you shooting? I haven't thought it was going to decide is where camera front is so that's why I'm asking him, where do you want to shoot a scam? A front? And so you know, I'm going to move around I'm going to find how I like the light, which way is getting the look that we're looking for or that I'm looking for? I think this is too big maybe I should do a lighter pink can't decide yeah it's cool! I'm gonna change just a bit because I have way too many problems so I'm gonna go lighter just because that's what you really want to make it play will you do this that's through shooting horizontal? Uh, what's the vertical vertical hold someone with this upfront just a little bit I'm gonna lengthen the frame because of one thing when we talk about shooting is like we think about not only the hero front and the um angle in which he shoots and also if it's gonna be vertical horizontal because the placement of the subjects really have to lay within that plane so it doesn't make sense if I'm working with him and I'm setting it as a vertical he ends up shooting a horizontal and it cuts off everything that I put in camera front to make it pretty tio I hate it when I do that's a part of it is communication about later so I always have to talk to him and say you gonna shoot vertical horizontal cause I need to know or saying sometimes a vice versa I'm asking her it's like which way she's senior which way she's saying it up for staying styling it so this is the recipe tart in a very bad pretty lights you know, so let's say a client says I want this is my product I own a bakery so we're going to create case studies so we have a client that has this baker that creates this beautiful tart well, okay what's your mood board. Well, I want to let people know that it's just light and airy and I wantto, um, appeal to bright lights. I want to appeal to those parties and I want them to make it feel like it's um um something that they can add to their wedding party I said okay so that we definitely say that life something that's light and airy and it just kind of lifts kind of the frame just makes you feel really relaxed you know makes you feel feminine you know makes it fun and pretty and this is where the backlight would make a big difference but for now let's just shoot yeah I'm back to be before I want to so do you like this light yes you do yes you do okay so one thing about like this little tired it has like the great we'll glaze on the top right so great yet there's still you know that's what I'm choosing an angle where I catch just enough of the glaze but so I shot the previous one about right here let me just shoot again so you can see how little I move and how much is gonna change that the light of his ugly always noticed where the light's coming from break the shot down and we always do this if you look at other people's pictures we break it down let's find out where the light comes from first you can tell it's coming from the back and that beautiful reflection on that glaze is awesome so I'm the client like I love that so here's that that's where I was that right here right now I'm just moving just here so what I moved would you guys say like six inches? Yeah and I'm the client I say, I don't like that with that harsh shadow on my glaze I wanted to look more red and that always happens. So we say no problems that I will make the adjustment, you see? So we did not use any balance or anything yet. And what did he do? He just moved a little bit so you see the difference in how you concoct pennstate the light reflections before you had anything else and all those layers coming later later so that's one easy way to do that a lot of people are always wanting tio phil and added change so that's great let's say you again that one person said, I have a lot of, you know, reflection on my meat and steak we shot a big project recently with raw meat and there was a lot of reading reflection so we kept because, you know, I mean, because I love my back lights why immediately set it to a back light just because I wanted a lot of reflection because I photograph too, so I'm always seeing light, so I immediately placed it there, assuming all it's gonna be perfect, so when he shot it, it was too much like, okay, I pre assumed that the backlight was gonna work, so he just moved it around any questions? So that's maybe one thing for you, when issues of reflection that you have is maybe you're not moving as much. Are you moving around as much, you know? Or maybe you're just moving the food, but you're not necessarily moving yourself, which in effect changes the direction of light. So one great example in there, so that was kind of really simple to show that backlight and let's say now I'm the client let's take the same subject, so now we don't want any girlie well, let's not do really not so what's already, girl because it's on pain so it's too so let's say you don't want it to be like that. Let's everyone a lot more rich. Yeah, rich wait, go! Yeah, you're really wilstein surface now don't keep what was she won? That's rich let's do that. Okay he wants a change because there's so much to show. Okay, see that's where you have to decide, you know so let's, go ahead and move it further reason why one change service too? Because the the white it's going it's going to help give tone to it too. So are light's giving tone and our services were given time services are huge, you know it's like part of choosing wait the feel that you want for your image, a lot of it's going to come from your surface and then from your props and the light it's kind of all three together. I mean, actually shift to this site and we're gonna block. Is he having a question when you guys were working? Yes, fantastic. So a question from fashion tv when you were shooting cherries if you were shooting the cherries for a glossary of a cookbook, mom, how do you think differently about the light when you're shooting for editorial and, you know, type is going to go somewhere on the page? Oh, that it's huge and usually we ask first, like, if we shoot cookbooks, you know, sometimes editors will specifically say I needed image for full bleed, full bleed or half a bleed, meaning it probably takes over like both full pages, half bleeding is basically the whole image takes up one half page so that they will say specifically, I need this for type glossary, then we'll always don't think about composition first, because then obviously, we know that they're gonna have type there so we can make the hero or the subject really small in the corner somewhere so well that given a lot of room for type. And then we'll get an idea of the graphics on it, and they'll say, it's going to be dark type, so if they say dark type, we're going to shoot it with a really bright back life to give that space that all the graphic designers can work with. And if they say, well, you know, the type is going to be white and that's what the graphic designer wants, then we'll shoot it with the more dr backlight. Well, doctor, doctor, back light, but the darker back because there's a lot of that that's communicated a lot of times. It's just luck sometimes. Well, she's something, and it worked right away, and some graphic designers will work with whatever we have when you say it worked. Are you meaning if it has an emotion that you're looking for that mood that you're looking for, so, I mean, I see all these pictures, they all look great to me. So how are you deciding which one may feel like the safe? I'm the client? Yeah, for me or for my bar? Yeah, for your cookbook, let's say cookbook, because we're ready to find that, you know, we want to highlight strawberries and seasons, we have this story in her head and let me run it because this is in the chapter for summer let's, say, or this is a block post for summer, so I really want to make sure that highlight that summer and I think about light think about what I really want a bright, really wanted that bright merry light. I don't want it that choked out dark light, so with that, I know that I already I want that light, and then when I look and I'm happy with the placement, the composition on about how the light falls on the subject, then I'm good. I've made a decision and that's, one of the hardest things to do is a photographer when you're shooting is making that final decision and it's one of the hardest things when you work in a team, you just have to make a decision because you can shoot a ten thousand times because how many of you here she's the same thing fifty times, right? You keep shooting and shooting and shooting it? Yes, you keep nodding a lot, and I used to happen to me. Now we make a decision, we say we shoot it, we shoot it about four times, let's say, for the block, we're like, we're done, we're happy with it because we're satisfied we liked the story they devotes and it's saying what we wanted to say, and we're quick a decision making if you asked us four years ago, this thing will probably be shot fifty times it takes forever to go through it and look all the same, so I'm happy with that a lot of it's like what you've decided before you've ever picked up the camera you know, because you're deciding your mood how you're going to capture the light before you've even started too late your subject down so you start to think about those things like what do we want some of the field when I get that sometimes like sometimes I don't know and then then that's a situation where it's like you just got to kind of keep walking around like, do I like this that I feel this is my feeling that today it's like not yeah, maybe yes now, um but most of time for us is like well like teo to kind of get it ahead of time is like what we want you know, so it's like what do I want someone to feel it's like what time of year? So I want someone to feel like they're experiencing you know, is this a squash dish also, you know, squashes or especially like a you know, winter squash dish it's like, you know, it's like I want something I feel like it's fall, you know, so that's something a little bit more that moodier, darker dr lighting, doctor shadowing um, other times it's, like, I want to feel like it's the first asparagus of spring, you know, so you get that little bit of brighter or, you know, and so you either concoct a story or just you get with that emotional sense that you want someone experience when they're seeing the image before the camera's been picked up before the surface has been chosen. So let's say, yes, I have a question in regards to a focus point on, like, on the cherries, I saw maybe one or two, maybe three that just really popped out on then there was a little blurry with the rest of them. So me still learning the technical piece in order to get them all in focus or say you wanted those strawberries and that together, all in focus, what would you do? So for that that's, what you're changing through your f stop through the field, so basically, the smaller your stuff number is so depends on your lens for what you can change on that, but the smaller the number, the more shallow it's going to be. So the more blurry it's going to be, so you're going to have, like, one kind of, like, really low numbers at two, one eight, you have just this then sliver that's in focus and the rest is dropping out of focus beyond in front and behind as that number gets bigger than everything starts teo and you know, the depth of the focus areas basically increased through the framing so let's say the clients is now this is my product, I make these things and I still love pink, but I want to given artists and feel to it I want to give a rustic farmhouse field because my bakeries in my farmhouse like great, so we're going to create that story and rather than shoot on what we're going to shoot on this more darcy dark wood, so to change that story were not only changing the surface, we're gonna change the light too. Let me just intentionally block knowing that we know what the client wants, we know what it's gonna look, I'm gonna find it and I'll have you find it, and then we know what the mood is, so let's allow the client to see their product, so for this dynamic switched to decide versus the other one. So after shooting here just a brief little bit and then thinking about how the lights coming so I can't have my wife is almost floating like this way, so I'm shooting on that side is a little bit hard to block now, it's, like I can just really if I start blocking here I just have those little smaller section I can start to deal with so it's going to come a little bit easier we still like that we still like the vertical yeah let's keep it consistent and again always kiss still keeping to the mood of the story and I'm when we're shooting for clients or even for ourself we always want to stay consistent on this case roy was thinking okay farmhouse feel artisan once that would look so the one intentionally blocked the light and some clients when they see this they'll say what can you see it both ways like yeah just charge just pay more for sure but you just get two shots today and I don't get five sometimes clients will see that it will say that they can't decide which mood I want you know? Can I see both and then when they see both they can't decide either because they like both so um and texture helps and definitely one this is gonna be one of the best investments you could never have you see that field immediately that changes it. So if you were to go into a bakery and you saw two different the two different pictures which will be shown side by side you'll see the light on the dark it also defines like the design it defines kind of the personality of the baker it defines the the whole mood of the shop are we able to see the white side by side, too. There we go, see, so all we did change a texture and change aboard two different voices. So in terms of a blogger, post and the and writers who write their block posts and share their their pictures with, I go to aa blogging to see this, I'm thinking on that purse, it's got some real, like resting, maybe farmhouse texture. Maybe they kind of live in the country. Maybe if they had their bakery is there, and this one, I feel khun lend to a more modern personality. I'm nancy, we're talking it through, and this is what I see, but you can see something totally different. You could say, hey, diane, this is actually the artist here, and this is the, you know, this is the farmhouse here, so

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