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Shoot: Fried Chicken with Drinks

Lesson 34 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

Shoot: Fried Chicken with Drinks

Lesson 34 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

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Lesson Info

34. Shoot: Fried Chicken with Drinks


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction






Hero Shots


Motion in Restaurant




Restaurant Details


Lesson Info

Shoot: Fried Chicken with Drinks

We're going to change textures now and remember last time we used the chalkboard on the ground we're going to use it as a background now same chair this way just lay it right on top less work for us to take it off and it gives more support on the back same surface yes beautiful same surface here when I had a couple different things actually I'm not gonna use this and this would be a lot of how like we're working studio or jumping from one together this is like what we do it's like I'll just start asking like what surfaced you want with background you want so I'm starting to set those up she's gonna start grabbing um yeah we're gonna do the wind borne surfaced real quick and then we're going to set this up what about you know, being ableto have functional pieces that are modular that you can move back and forth or super healthy go okay don't you get your food now we just need this one and then um we need a football that's okay, I just think we need two pieces that we don't need to money...

awesome wei need to places that's it that's it julius on dh we're going to shoot a fried chicken scene with drinks now when we work with drinks drinks were always lasts and has everything to do with timing so once we perfect oh fried chicken how can you bring me fried chicken and the beverage great so he's gonna I'm gonna put a stand in for him use the board a little bit much here I'll put this over here and I'm actually gonna move this this way I want to throw a quick scene together that's going to be fried chicken and beer so order whatever you want so in setting this up I know I'm gonna want to serve beverages particularly in the back would make it seem like a feasting scene and then I'm gonna stagger the glasses in the back if I'm working with one subject it's easier if I'm working with two subjects like drinks, I always want to stagger one of the back and when todd shoes we're probably gonna focus um on the chicken but we're going to probably crop right here and that's where the question of crop comes in handy because if we show both glasses within the frame and then it starts to get really busy I still want to focus on the chicken and I had my chicken from a couple days ago our famous fried chicken and every time I bring it out everybody just says it looks so delicious I think that you probably don't want to eat it so we're gonna make maybe chicken with a side of lettuce and veggies just get out a little bit of color and texture just so that we can raise basically show the beverage and I'm loving all this crime on here this this crest on the fried chicken so got this ready to go b like a and we're gonna make this an herb fried chicken, right? Everybody's so quiet yeah, well, they are fried chicken yes, yeah, yeah, yeah, you could get harder make and start making he requests and I'm gonna make it or fried chicken with let's say let's do time again because it's I've always got tons of time on me so see how tired started bloxham light already? Because he knows, like it's gonna be really bright in this corner and as I'm working he's just focusing on the light and so in this case so actually, I think of the light can the same way she thinks of the styling. I think of my let's ensure you'll focus on the salad and focus on your hero on your foreground and on your background. It's easy to break it down between those thie three parts. I'm going do the same thing for focusing on the light house the light falling on my subject how's away, falling on my background and has a light falling on my foreground and then begin to start to control those two so even though I'm using a background there I'm still gonna look to see how that lights find cross that how dark it is, how light it is, how much light is glancing crossed at this part is still a little bit of guesswork you never know for sure how the camera's gonna pick it up until you actually start shooting it I'm just kind of taking a quick guess first started get the light I think is going to work for our subject and then as you saw in the previous one, even though it's like we thought we initially had it, we're still going to make tweaks after we start getting things um in the scene so I've got my light and my subject now I put my back ground up, I see the lights coming across that talk fairly strong so I'm just going to start blocking a little bit of light coming off the background just to kill that a little bit flag like it a bit let's get this out just so we can see what it's like without first potato chips because beard potato chips go so well together I think there's nothing gonna have tonight. Can you get to see just how much this is starting to change the light? When I rolled over from here from there you see how much they're starting, teo just soften things just a bit excited about this one I love my cake but I also love my bridge again okay? So hero drumstick right here can you all see when I was styling I was like working around this one hero drumstick so todd knows that's hero okay, you do this so we crop crop this off here is going to crop in camera I think it looks good. Yeah, well go for it. We're getting got handy dandy camera so when I'm playing again when I'm styling I know he's go oh he's gonna shoot low so I'm always going at the angle, I think in which he shoots and I make my adjustments so I'm just not going to stand here and fiddle with it because he's not gonna be shooting from this angle that's really super important when you're we're working on composition on a frame, always standing the angle that which the camera's gonna be focusing well, that is your way then I'm always behind him to looking because if he's looking here that I'm looking here and that's how we work in unison with each other that way there's not a lot of dead time in between having him to wait for me to go over there and they doesn't like it because I'm art anticipating where he's shooting, how big do we want that second every damn thing you say you decide stay here see the beer's very at the very last but I really the reason why I brought in the potato chips too because it brings into element of rights to it and it's going to pull off the beer really well because the shades of the potato chip in the beer we'll work really well together and this is going to be like a bar scene and it be fun to see what the chalk for texture looks like two nice yeah that's nice let's go little or maybe get a little more top I think I killed my light a little bit too much on the black talk for let's just get this looking delicious yes here it's going to be this chicken drumstick right here it's the chicken looking good and then he's just adjusting light and I'm trying to and I'm ali and my job is always looking at the frame to see what other adjustments I could make to save time too and to kind of get an idea of what I could do but I can see already I'm going to move this big guy back look a little too much here for framing I felt like that's a little too much fried chicken you don't need a ton of fried chicken to let people know that the fried chicken is the hero sometimes the pieces who will compete with each other to so you can always keep pulling math and then I have beer ready. The beer is really gonna bring the background back a little bit more to and it's going to bring a little bit of more brightness to the frame see that looks good. Looks good. Yeah, I think I want to pull the chicken framing forward a little bit more. You could get a room or the background too. Yeah, yeah. So I took away this piece of chicken already and that helped break up the spacing a little bit more because again, it's like there's no need to suffocate a frame with so much stuff a lot times less is more starting with less, but the back light on the chicken looks really good. It doesn't look like this is for all day chicken that was taken out of the fridge and I see some bare spots on it, so I'm goingto paste on the piece just so that we don't have to fight to much of the baldness. So well, I'll just cut and paste a lot of different things while I'm on set as well t make it nicer think that's going to help a little bit and maybe I was wrong about blocking that quite so much on the back roads to see what it's like naked first yeah, let me just glue that little bit on think that's gonna help so it's not so distracting I'm gonna walk over in this side again I want to see exposure real quick of the send it looks good and I like just how the chips just peek in not too much hear that composition looks better so don't need too much of the base for me I was still too much like her back yeah it's a little much I kind of liked it better what? It was blocked off a little bit what you think it was just a little too much light so we're going to fix that I want to make sure my chip show you show more my chips if you thanks great. Sometimes you can just bring in just enough to feather it. Hold that reed knights have to find it. Ok, let's, go okay, I moved the chips and more if you're going to keep that composition okay? Okay. And then I haven't I want to bring the two glasses of beer and just a little bit more just a little bit here. Okay? And then the chips the herb fried chicken I feel like also notice always making changes um and that's the fun part of making these changes I feel like that freeze a that I put in is just so blown out at the base and it's just fighting the crust of the chickens I'm going to add a little bit of I need to know that something you kind of always worried about it we're not worried about just concern yourself with is when you're looking at two different things you're putting on plate how is the color variation between them happening? Do you have something really dark and something really light? Is this going to work together or not depending on within the framing so like this is like you have something really dark yeah, this this really bright spot on the freezer was but bugging me a lot and I think that it's almost like a light bulb you know, on the on the scene simply that'll help, but I'm happy with the way the chicken looks just looks really natural doesn't look stage replaced liking how that looks to see how she just made that little change through the frisee and it it's the same subject right just makes the difference moving that light part away because you have such a dark subject with your fried chicken so you're that's you and that's your hero so that's what you're kind of really focusing your light on but then you have something really light next to it them by just making a little tweak to that bringing the darker part of the frisee instead of the the wider center it's a get works together a little nicer okay do you want me to make any changes before I do the beer no changes you happy with it looks delicious there's no chicken juice you can't do anything today that you do the beverage so I could tell right now that I'm just not gonna pour randomly because we know that if this is the composition, the image is only going to catch this part of the glass so I have to identify word that part of the glasses which is probably going to be right here but I want to double check to make sure because I don't want to make sure that I have just enough beverage that goes well here so I can see whitehead and I can see beer so that's my goal I don't want it just to be all yellow beer because it could look like apple juice, so the goal is for example, setting it yourself up pretend this is the beer client I'm making sure we showed that it looks like beer, beer and head so I'm gonna have him keep his composition and sometimes this is where having a tripod is helpful because it's consistently there and then when the clients here always making changes there's no variable in terms of the contract if you have it, I do we have a real quick so that I'm so I'm looking here I can tell already that probably my height limit is going to be right here on the glass and right here but what I would do is have him shoot it and I'm gonna have him shoot and put my finger there so I have a marker. What I'll do is I'll put a piece of tape there to know that I don't want it to go any higher than that, so I've gotta look here we see here that looks good and then in working with beer, knowing beers like you can't pour too fast cause itjust foams up so much, so important there always gotta make sure I hold it on the angle and poor, but in this case, I don't want to lose placement on the glass, so I'll stand back here and tilt it so I don't move the glass from placement cause the worst thing is once you've got the perfect here and you place it down again, you lose your composition the things I do is tilt, then I pour and then I till bath and I tilt and then important that I tilt back so that nothing gets touched because the photographer will get mad at me and say, what happened in my glass? It's in a different position, okay, okay, no, no, no so he's going to go ahead and do that so I'm ready to go with my beer and this is where it's the sauce of the drip because the timing on this one is crucial and sometimes we'll have to pour three four cans to get it right depending on the client sometimes that want that perfect ratio of head to glass, but in this case we're just gonna pretend that they're not such big highball classes were going to keep it a little bit lower so he's going to get the composition again, I'm gonna look at it I'm gonna give him my finger this one just for actually won't use my finger I'll use my tweezers here do that looking good again so this is where tripod is super helpful, then he doesn't have to worry about getting the same composition and same framing again, and when we're in studio, we're shooting with clients it's always on tripod or or camera stand it's when we get fun, extra angles is where he'll take it off the stand he'll just start for handing it, but for such detail, work like this where is precision? Such is so crucial to every part of the frame it's just to have a tripod even when I'm throwing it on tripod though I'm basically frame your free hand first and then moving my tripod underneath me one of the uh tennessee is when you have a tripod is that you stop moving, you stop kind of looking and seeking the angle, so I'm fighting my angle freehand first that I like getting my tripod pretty close and then find tinny and after I pop it back on this time but it's not here so I know how far I could go with a beer so I'm trying to give myself a marker notes about one third down and that when you know like where my limit is so you see even the tweezer this is your tweezer okay got it so no higher than that. Okay, so we're ready to go ready? Ready? Ready ready go shake shake yourself that's that till four out of ten that I'll start doing that go ahead let's see if this one is up here someone starting with what you have to start with the front I go back and forth a little bit because you know, every beer is a little bit different usually we'll work with one particular brand well, no it's tendencies and how it works but this one the head guys quick too so I'm going to go ahead at least get it started and then I'm giving I'm not pulling it all the way I'm giving myself placement so that way I can pour last really fast and get that vision that head butt let time let todd get uh a starting point here and then you know, this is timing just waiting till the tingle down all that we see that have refreshing that looks now that makes it a meal that looks really good so I'm gonna let it wait I'm going to let this one catch up a little bit so I know that I could go a little bit more so it's just timing and being patient sometimes you just can't rush these things you he's going to sit go on twitter what's going on okay then get this track a ways off like oh my god he's got a cute puppies up what okay so here we go so I'm trying to keep up here okay but they don't have to be perfectly you know exact leave the same so I'm gonna go now he's going to start actually get an action shot okay just start shooting keep going let's do this right and then mike up in the booth is going to help us find the best frame to share what is your favorite beer to use it's okay to say it's okay so it's six to say it's okay I use cheap beer and the best for that I've found to have a really good head and expensive inexpensive is coarse like great thank you is because also it's like why push up your production costs when young theo I mean that's that's like actually just like our first mentality behind it here's something that's gonna be there are now yeah maybe a little it was kin at the end but usually not so you know why spend the money on something good a great expensive beer wins just being talked that's good thanks mike so we chose one here let's play a little bit more let's move this in a little bit more and see what it looks like with from so this is when we start playing really fast go say ready set go and then I pour a little more because now that we've had that then we start doing different variations we just keep going and going you see I was kind of in the frame or do you like it better I mean what do you think? What do you think, mike? You choose let mike chews he's gonna choose his favorite so what? That's looking good so there's also one of the great part about when you're shooting on the tripod now it's like I have my framing everything set I can basically direct my focus when I'm looking through the camera at a specific thing so in this case I'm not even looking at my hero anymore what I'm looking in camera this is all set I have the framing that we liked liking so great I'm just considering just on the beer so that's where all my focus is that really within the camera so I can see like where it's following where it's not like last time that I could get that timing I just moved I just overlapped the glass is a little bit maybe this could be a different variation and then get mike's going to choose so they're so they're a little bit closer I don't know I don't think I like that do you like it? Mm you should doesn't matter you know you have the different variations but I don't know I kind of like that one too wanna move over here so see how that timing makes a big difference and working with a drink that's always about saving it to the very last and making sure we get the nature and the characteristic of that beverage to come up. So if it's beer want to make it look refreshing with the head and the separation yes will you do one with your hand pulling the can you pull a fried chicken here's a sub just the different pores so we'll do one quick with this one what if shellie pull this one or should I pull this one? Uh can you see my hand more in this one? I think you should do the wiggle wiggle ah, dad, we're doctors that's just, uh make a bigger movement. Okay, so are you gonna get blur? You want blur? Okay, okay, well, I'm gonna be more aggressive everyone's no wiggle wiggle okay, so I want to go like this, okay, let me do this right, ok, let me do this right let's, do this right? Tell me when you're ready, lad, I'll do. And then I'm going to port with just a little bit ahead. So in this case where we want to get blood on, man, just my speed so that make sure it's slow enough that it can get a blur. So I made a few changes I want to get before stevens bothers. I want to get a test shot just to make sure my changes are and making sure my hand is in the right position because you want to make it look natural to and riel so okay, so after moving closer, that looks good. Someone go like this. Yeah, make him which should her speed or you're gonna be going to so I'm going to drop it and started thirty. So one thirtieth of a second, just as a beginning. Um, I might want to drop a little bit slower. Depends on how fast or how slow the action is happening and how big and how stretched out we want that blur. Great. Thank you. So here we go a little bit more. I don't want to lose this. Get started too. You are? Yeah, okay, wait okay, mike she's the best I don't like the hand's in there, just enough. I think it needs me more deliberate think you need to be more obvious? Okay let's do it this way one more time actually say we even shift this even a bit more let's put this back here a little bit make sure it doesn't fall you're gonna be doing this later okay said yeah you're way doing this that's why there's that creative live release form? I can do it a lot of work this is when you need to do yoga in the morning okay? This is where assistant would do it wouldn't be me slow down a little bit inland down to one fifteenth of a second you can start to even hear like the shutter to gets a little bit too instead of the faster so this case would have to work it with a little bit more because the glass will show my finger through something in this case it doesn't work all that great. I would have it if you're doing it actually pulling the hand out more and having it just more towards the edge okay, so keep sliding out keeps letting out so right now in the glass is two thirds out or sorry two thirds in or have I just have a hand in this? Maybe my hand needs to be in this way I think you need to be lifting it looks awkward we're just holding ok about that we'll hold the beer like you're gonna hold a beer and lift it up a little bit. There you go, sliding back of our legal will. If it was over, the top was down. Yeah, yeah, I think it's, definitely more over the top, but that's. Not bad.

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!!!!

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