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Shoot: Fried Chicken with Multiple Dishes

Lesson 17 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

Shoot: Fried Chicken with Multiple Dishes

Lesson 17 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

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Lesson Info

17. Shoot: Fried Chicken with Multiple Dishes


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Day 1


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Lesson Info

Shoot: Fried Chicken with Multiple Dishes

So in this next segment, we're still gonna shoot because we feel the best way to learn is just for us to shooting you watch and kind of narrative through. So this segment, we're gonna talk about multiple dishes now, so it's not just the single hero. Now we're talking about bringing in maybe a second dish in the back, creating a little bit more of a scene, possibly implementing a drink, timing on a drink and beer and fizz. We're gonna go ahead and do that. So start with what sort of feel we want. We're going to go. We're doing fried chicken. Yeah. So what? We decided to start with the story. Start with a story. The story is fried chicken. So, um, well, the subject is fried chicken. We want to shoot fried chicken. We already already shot fried chicken already, but it was more to capture light. So let's share a story of fried chicken. So we talked it over. We said, let's share a picnic scene like give it a picnic, feel a table talk, tabletop picnic feel, um, where friends were gathering t...

ogether. You've got a lot of food, and then, um, get some fried chicken going on. And with that, we decided to use this white texture. Um, and then on this frame, we're gonna add multiple dishes as well. And for Cohen, we decided to mix it up, not against all the dark wood we're gonna use Kingdom, you know, something fun and something summary. And rather than the dark vessel that we showed the original fried chicken on, we're gonna make it fun and picnic style playful. So we found we, you know, went through creative lives cabinets and found this very cool, um, kind of paper picnic, e outdoor feel. So we're gonna play the chicken on this and this is going to give us that picnic feel along with this texture, because it's fun and it's pink in its kingdom, and then we're gonna shoot a beverage with it. So let's start. And because this is not spec food, there's gonna be a lot of flexibility here and what we do. So if readers at home, if you want us to add something to the frame or you want to see and say hey at my picnic, I like to have Berries. Great. Let us know and we have all that. So it'd be fun if you guys can give us an idea what you want to see within the frame. But it all still has to fit. So the theme is fried chicken picnic. So I've decided that I'm not gonna do rosemary fried chicken anymore. Her We're going to time Fried chicken has that. So let's incorporate everything that we've talked about from Segment One segment to segment three and kind of tie it all together within this frame. So let's talk about lighting first. How do we want this lighting to be, you know, kind of like an outdoor fuel bright light. So we have outdoor field, but the same time we're using Ah, white surface. So that's gonna give us a lot of light to are subject to. So for doing a straight back light, we might begin a little too much. So we're gonna come around angle just a little bit, so it's gonna have a bit of back light. Let me find a good way to right this court over there. So he's establishing the light and the set up, and I'm gonna follow along with that and played in the food and then we also you know we want you. We We don't want too much this side. We want some nice highlights to come through the chicken because it's dead. It's dead meat. It's delicious, though, so Yeah, I'm gonna find an angle. Maybe somewhere in about this range, it's a tabletop. Sorry. Base. So you just gonna move? Yeah. Yeah. Is that now you gonna shoot on a horizontal vertical so I can stage Teoh? So with a little bit more of a seems to go horizontal, it's to horizontal. Okay, so you're gonna shoot this way, Okay, This way. So now I know that I want my dish gonna go this way. He said it was gonna be horizontal, So yes, boss, I'm going to know that I need to start this way. So now that he's identified the light, my next job is as a stylist or in food styling is to look at the angle so I can tell to get the chicken would kind of go a little low. So what? I'm styling anything. I always go to the angle that is gonna be camera angle. So if I'm plating for a dish and styling top down, I'm gonna stand and look top down. I'm not gonna be standing like this and styling and make it all pretty on the side whereas the camera was going top. So please always think about camera front. And now your food stylist where you're gonna stand so we can tell when I'm styling top down, I'm hovering over the dish. So this time I'm going to be low like this And I can tell already that we need to catch a little bit of this red so I can tell Todd like, right now, I know we're gonna go kind of low to catch the integrity of this dish. So again, So I'm styling. I'm gonna be down here. I don't think about my my gingham linen first to kind of bring that up front, Still thinking on a horizontal. So I'm still always thinking of frame on a horizontal, and I can tell right here that if we still need to catch this and let's say this is the client, let's say this is their paper product. We've got to make sure we catch that. So when Todd and I started shooting, we always gave us these assignments that were really hard. Okay, let's how Let's figure out how we can get the integrity of this piece with the chicken. So I'm gonna stand here, my chicken, and I'm going to start plating at this angle. So also for the shot, I want to incorporate the chair. So when I'm thinking about what sort of framing do I want? What what do I want for the image? So we have our light, and then I think about what we want. My foreground background and the subject, how they want them to relate to each other. And what do I want the person to feel like when they're seen as like, well, we want to feel like they're at a picnic table. We want to feel like that out, sort. So we have this school chair here. Let's capture just a pit a bit of the chair unless you passed it. So it's gonna be just in a little bit of the framing. We're gonna shoot past it and then capture subject. So they kind of gives a little bit of a depth of 123 effect to the framing. You see it when we get it set up, but that way she knows. Like where she also needs a place on the table. She can't when she starts setting up her styling. If she sits it up out here and I'm gonna have the chairwoman, it's gonna be hard. We're gonna lose that. So when I told her, I want I'm gonna use the chair. She knows now when she's doing it, she's gonna cheat things a little bit closer to the front edge to where she can set up for Teoh. Incorporate that into the shots you. And so that's where it helps like when you shoot and when you style together. So those of you that do like everything is like, you're the one man crew and you that's the best thing unless, you know, because you you then you getting incorporate all that stuff and you get telling yourself, It's like, OK, I have this. I know what I need to dio. And if you're working with someone else, then just have that communication back and forth. It's like I need this so that way that you guys can work together. You don't have toe redo things later, so I could tell already he's seeking a beginning, middle and end in that time thinking so I can tell that he's gonna blow out this chair. So because that I'm gonna bring it a little further because he's probably gonna want to give you the feel of intimacy and feeling like you're peeking into someone's picnic table. And so with that, I'm looking at this angle. The drumstick is too low. So I need to now false bottom it because I could tell from this angle the cameras only gonna pick up the and bone part phone, part the tip and the really meaty part is being some underneath. So this is where I would grab cotton balls or paper tell I'd waited a little bit and I did create a false bottom. You know, if I wet paper towel, I can control the shape so much more, and then I have a little bit of lift to what I'm needing to lift. To bring up more is the hero, and I got to make sure that when I do that you don't still see this. So part of that is that styling. I'm gonna always make sure that I go up and down and I'm gonna anticipate what's the highest angle he's going to shoot because obviously, is not gonna shoot it top down. So the highest angle he's gonna shoot is like right here that I got to make sure. Even at this angle, you don't see the paper tell. And that's gonna help because you're all photographers to and food Stylist. So you're gonna be thinking all these at once, and you can just pretty much knockoff checklist on your own without having to refer to somebody else. So I think I can get it to lift up. And he's nose. It's a false bottom. So hopefully he can skirt the paper, tell if he sees it too. But I'm thinking already right here that you can catch the drumstick really nicely. I like the way ahead of first. Okay, do this way. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I've got some chicken or some shapes, so I'm looking how the light's hitting that chicken piece, cause that's again. What? What's gonna bring out that depth? The light in the shadows to write. So to keep that big blob of a mass happening. And to be able to get that separation, where is the light And so you can start seeing, um when you're at the angle from there, you can shoot from how the light starting to hit it. I can see the light starting toe get here. So I have a little bit separations. Give a little bit definition to our hero piece of chicken again. Something to focus in on. So I've decided I've just made up the recipe. It's a time fried chicken. Okay, so I'm gonna, because of its a time fried chicken. It's probably dried thyme within the batter, but I still feel like I can still show a little bit of time on top because that's still true to the recipe, Um, or if the clients the recipe had time, and I still that we can still feel like we can bring that out to let the no. At least it's an herb chicken, because that way, when they bite into what they're gonna taste that herb. So it's good. At least let the viewer know where the eat or know what's gonna be in it. So I'm gonna go in and add a few Sprinkles of time lease. I always use fresh if I can. If I only have dry then that works to do whatever you can. But if I can, I'm going to make sure I try to use and I'm using. We have not using tweezers yet, cause I don't need it. Yeah, I don't feel like any day yet, but can always help because the time leaves to seem to be laying really great where I want them to be, and and I'm gonna add maybe I can tell that and focus he's gonna say, Am I focusing on time? Which one's the hero leave. And I think it's gonna be this tiny one right here, because I can already see. And the camera can see about here. Maybe right here was for the lights, Carter. Yeah, a little higher. Maybe we're this one. The lights still catching on this one. So we're trying to identify where the light hits the best. Maybe it's right there. So it kind identified. It looked good here, but the lights that catching. So I'm gonna place it where I think the lights gonna catch it. It's really beautiful right here. That's the hero time. And so sometimes it will be a matter of tweaking where you're placing something sometimes a matter of tweaking and moving your body of and just talking the dish a little bit. Well, say it wasn't hitting when I was here and I moved there It is. Sometimes that's all it takes. Other times you just have to replace and move somewhere else that it works better. And let's say, let's add who likes potato chips? Raise your hand If you like potato chips, Here's a look. I chips chips, so we're gonna continue adding layers on the frame. So let's say in this story at a fried chicken, think Nicky would have to traipse. So let's keep adding things to the frame, you see. So when Todd and I started shooting again, we just kind of drew back and started shooting simple things. And we kept adding things because it's so much easier to add than it is to take away. So looking here, wondering, does he see the chips at that angle? I think I might have toe lift up the bull because I think the yeah, because if you don't see the chips in the bath, a false bottom it again with something and look the bowl up a little bit more. Just so Yeah. Well, can I look that just to get more height? Sure you like. So I'll just Yeah, well, keep lifting up to where I feel any, because if they that's the only vessel you have, you can compensate by making sure it lifts up just a little bit or tilting it. That's a second layer. Let's think of 1/3 layer, right? Looking good Beer. Okay. Everybody wants beer. Who likes beer? You. You, You You tell me about it. Tell me about a radish tale. You're trusting you about telling me about beer. Now, that's degree. Let's dio let's do this one, cause this feels like a summer glass. Okay, so we know that we're gonna have a drink. That guy is super very last. That isn't even going to be considered until everything else looks good. So feeling like it's a picnic table That looks good. That looks good. What else can I add? I feel like you've got the chips you've got that summer. Let's throw some fruit on it, too, because I think part of a summer picnic is that we would probably want some fruit and a plus. It adds a little bit of color to the back to, um, I'm gonna keep adding layers, but I'm not gonna have too much. I think the fourth element of Berries is gonna be enough because that's gonna let you feel, too and let you understand that it is summer because we want to highlight summer. And I think, Oh, my gosh, this is so perfect. Because now I have the pink and red in the strawberries to pull the colors for the basket to hear. So thistle is even better, because now everything is gonna be tied in together well, and the color and the red Is it going to allow you to draw the eye to the back a little bit more to extend the frame to the back? You hear they're gonna be here. Can you see both? If I did that? Oh, wait. This is horizontal. Yeah. No, actually, the Berries were just now catching, catching, and actually, it's give us a shot. Good idea what we're shooting here. It's summer picnic in creative life. And then again, beer is very last, and that's what we want to get that fizz. So as where again, thinking layers and layers. You always give yourself a starting point. Just shoot to see where you go. Because sometimes things don't look the same in camera as they do. And I and that always happens because so many times and we've been humbled many times on set because we're so confident this is gonna work. It's gonna work great with shot this angle in the subject a 1,000,000 times. But then we realized the dish that had they have it, it doesn't work, so it can be really humbling. Teoh shoot it in front of a client and be like, totally wrong. But that's part of the job, and that's part of food. Photography is making so many mistakes because we're taught. And I have, um, where Todd and I are today is because we made a ton of mistakes all the time. Actually, fallen crashes part of life in general. I mean, it's like you think about It's like, what are the times when you're frustrated? That's actually the times that you're learning that sometimes when you're actually progressing because those were the times were struggling and finding new ways and you're expanding what your knowledge is and was so instead of fighting that frustration, time embrace. It's like, Oh, awesome. I'm learning more today, just kind of developing that mindsets like this today I'm moving forward. It's like I'm just I'm learning some time going on. It's like instead feeling stuck, its leading away you down. It's like, Boom is awesome. I'm learning today, those days where it's easy. That's just the culmination of all those days that were frustrating. That looks pretty darn good. Do you think so far looks pretty good. I feel like the glasses so blown out you don't even know there's a glass there. But if it's spear, it might show there. So let's say Let's just bring color and let's bring a bunch of green because it is. We can shift angles to be shipped angles, but I feel like I want more color in the back. Just feel so pale to me. So I want to make it more summer. Let's go ahead and had green. So where I was changing out so many times will go through so many glasses, you'd be surprised at how many glasses we go through until we find the right one, because what we think we see with the eye doesn't look anything interesting in camera. And you know, is how Todd shot through the the chair here because it's called the chair, because it kind of glad you, but let's let's eliminate that. Let's just focus on this first. And then we can do this after if you want, because I want to see what it looks like with some chips on the side later. Okay, maybe so. I feel like that glass looks a little better to me because, like so you know, there's a vessel back there and I am thinking here, I'm not happy with you because I do feel like the chicken looks good. Looks crispy, but it still feels lonely. What More food? So I'm gonna add more ships, but where I'm gonna add ships. The first sentence he might be to just put it on the table. But I'm actually gonna go ahead and add it to back of here because I think it's gonna bring out the texture of the chicken a little bit more. What? I haven't added that first, Probably not because I wanted to see what it looked like first. No, we're always working in layers. And then again where's my hero? Chip? It's the sky right here, Toasties. This is my There is a hero Chip. There's a hero. Everything there is a hero life. We like this when we eat. No, we just four open the bag. We just, like, devour it. I'm not so And this chip has movement. Check out that curl hero Chip. Not not, like, look the difference. Like you know which chip is gonna photograph. Better this one. Okay, don't make fun of May s O writing special effects. Yeah, that looks good. That looks more substantial to me. Do you mean kill the church? You want Teoh? No, actually, just continue what you're doing. Maybe I could just move it just a bit, so I can a song as you can see my chips Because I love chips, Please. She loves her chippies. And this, I feel like, is actually going to give a little bit more background for the last piece of chicken to fall back on a little more texture and you know, a little bit more fullness. I do want to show food. It's not a diet meal. So see, that's pretty. That's trying to come alive. So you know it's OK. You know, it's not a low calorie thing. Let's just go for it. Let's just indulge. But you see those chips, though. How wonderful texturally and the movement wise in the flow they show. And I like how she moved the chair out just enough. It's like a still in the frame. You still know what's there. You need to have it too much. Catches a little bit more of the napkin, so you kind of get a little bit that playfulness from the napkin. We're guessing we and a little bit like just to make it feel more outdoor. Let's just look like if we feel because it could, cause I guess depending on the screen where you stand, the shadow show differently. So when I walked over here, I saw I think you guys are going to see something different than over here. So I think it's a little dark and I was thinking so. So let's fill, I think, uh, maybe coming in from here, okay? Probably not quite so close. Back up a little bit. Back up. Back up just a bit. You can actually is here. I feel it's a little dark. It's overcooked. Dry shot. So much already. So then you're slightly in, my friend. I feel like we could make just a little brighter for you in the brain here. Just this edge. His article. Thank you. And I think this is gonna make the chicken look knock so burnt to it feels birth to me. Did you agree with me? Oh, this'll help me. Looks better. Say, let's better tell me better. So I did look burnt before and you knew that way. Turn it again and flip it to the Goldstone. Great. Yeah. So you know, when you buy these great five and ones, they have different shades. You have your white, you have your goal. That gives a very warm Tony, you have your silver. So which one do you use? You decide. If you use the gold, you're gonna make the chicken a little more yellow. Maybe we'll bring out a little more of the crust. If you have dishes that out are just too yellow and you need a and light to it may be used the silver side to cool it. So this is what it's gonna look like um, And if we can show to maybe both side by side to see this difference, it might be settled. It might be more. I don't know. So my golden yellow it looks a little more golden yellow on this one. You see how the chips are a little more yellow? Which one do you like? Better? You tell me. They're very different feeling You have to safe Answer. Which one You want me to think I like the one on the right a little. OK, so let's say you're my client, okay? You you like that continues more beachy. Okay, so we're so we'll do that. Great. If you like that. That's great. I mean, I could go other way. Does it really matter to me? Okay, let's make it a little more warm. So we're going to make sure we use this. So, looking in the frame, we got all the layers. We got all the textures. So the last element, let's say, is drink. I'm in this case with drinks. We want to show beer or a sparkling drink of some sort. And with that, there's that fizz. A couple different things we've always used, cause if fizzy drinks. Sit on set for while we put salt in it. Lots of salt, sea salt or right. I said, whatever you want, don't waste. And then you stir it up and that helps revisit. But if the fizz Dreamcast sat on set for so long, the salt isn't gonna do anything. So let's say the fizzes die down within a few minutes. We needed more. We can easily add little sultan if particularly if the drink is too high on the rim of the glass and we can't add anymore. But in this case, the client has approved, um, the shot like we're ready to go. And this is the part where everybody gets nervous, you know, or what comes a saucing. Everybody holds their breath drinks to me a lot easier than sauces like, you know, maple syrup on things like that. Those are always hard or so soon as I I'm poor. I'm gonna have enough time but here to do this. So, in this, in situations like these, tall is gonna shoot multiple frames. You know, the tether is gonna take a little time to catch up, but that would we can decide at what phase. We want to drink to show because some people like the beard show what ahead? Some don't. So and then if the head disappears from this too much, it could look like like a A soda. So you can read. You can interpret that however you want. So we ready to go do this quick with that drop? Okay, so here we go, this paper. Okay, so you get all the glass if you need. So when a poor, poor, poor, poor, everything ready, get your angle ready. So when a poor, poor, poor problem was great there, boom. And I'm gonna go off catch that, like, catch that refreshing bubble. Get ready. I'm gonna go again. Just get a little had Let me know when you're ready. You're in the frame a little bit with bones. So where I was communicating. Ready? You let me know. My foster. Yeah. This beer doesn't have a lot of to it. More bubbly. That's more bubbly. But you see, you like, from the back to see how it just refreshing it. Iss give us her give a lister we want to keep it will stir with this again or I can try toe, do something really bad and change it out because client wants biz. But that drink didn't have enough it, so I'm gonna you sparkling to add to it. So there's always things that a change up because a lot of pork in the water brand have more fizz and others, Let's try it again with sparkling water. That's not gonna water it down too much. Oh, no, it's not. It's like a doctor Ready Hopes This one's great. Ready to send Scott Foods? It's going to be about stuff straying in the in the frame a little bit. There is still in the frame. See this one? I think the darker drink is gonna show Boom or two. Here we go, cramping a little higher. So that's one story of fried chicken. Any questions? Many questions for Internet land before we move to another dish. Multiple seen dish. So we had a question earlier, talking about white balance on wanted to know in your workflow How do you incorporate white balance and to use and 1/3 party items like X right or great car? So, uh, we used Teoh and, um, you see, use 30 party ones to set out of white balances or two risky to preset a white balance. And we found just for for us we always there trying to seek the most efficient workflow that works for us and anymore. Like the camera, white camera bodies tend to capture what sounds pretty good. So for the most part, we're shooting auto white balance. She on Rob and we could make adjustments if we need Teoh, but occasionally, particularly if you started getting very colorful surfaces, the cameras just confused, You know, uh, what you're trying to shoot. And so in that case, you need to set a custom white balance. Personally, I love just using the Kelvin scale, so I'll dial in a specific number on the camera body. Some camera buys. You can't do it, but for ours, that's way we do it, cause they can is just a dialling a specific number that I like, and I'll just biscuit just visually adjust it until where I like it. I might bump it up, might move it down and now changed throughout the day to particular shooting natural light, you light and and the the white balance tone would adjust as the day changes. The morning is gonna be different from afternoon evening and just were you out from the window. It changes a little bit, so you're always kind of making little tweaks when you're doing it. But for the most part, it's just using straight the Kelvin scale and dialing in the number I like.

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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