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Shoot: Herb Still Life

Lesson 20 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

Shoot: Herb Still Life

Lesson 20 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

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Lesson Info

20. Shoot: Herb Still Life


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction






Hero Shots


Motion in Restaurant




Restaurant Details


Lesson Info

Shoot: Herb Still Life

I want to show you something on the top town shooting with multiple dishes that could compete with each other because they could still work so we shoot in an angle right where everything had a hero the ugly chili top down had a still hero because it was just the chili the chicken had a hero this haddie here which is a slice how about shooting top? I want to shoot a bunch of different herbs so still life where you have situations where you wantto have let's say an herb dish and there's a bunch of different pieces how weaken you could make it work what time did you talked down? Yeah top down real quick sometimes you don't need a hero sometimes you don't need that one specific perfect leaf or that one specific hero you can shoot a collage of things and create the experience top down with, um herbs but even though like, for example, herbs like there's a bunch of different textures here that are very similar you still have to set one in the center just for focal. But for example, like all t...

hese herbs, they all kind of look the same they're all the same shapes and sizes so people always say tada dan what if I don't have a hero? I don't have anything to focus on I just want to shoot a scene well, that's okay, one thing to mention ready for top down from this is making sure at least they're all about the same size. So when you define size by making one bigger than the other, you've already to find hero so that's how we define the chicken, the chicken was the bigger one or shape like the cropped pie from the last shot, but you had that susie pie filling that was still hero, because that was so obvious. So what if you're shooting a situation like this where you have so many herbs which one's the hero or how to shoot that scene where it's not busy teo styling for convertible okay should do ours all know what you want let's do vertical, so I've still make sure still make sure that I have all the ingredients that are not competing with each other. So you see all these ingredients and they're all different. It could be a little confusing, but what helps define the here was making sure they're all the same size. So if I had all of this parsley here and I wanted to shoot a scene, but you say you don't want a hero, well, you've already to find your hero can you see by saying that's, the hero because quantity wise, that was the hero so let's go ahead and pole off and say everything is the hero because I have so many beautiful things in my life or if in this case the crime thing in the machine wasn't along with color tones let's say you have everything was like nice green green and then you have also bright brilliant red tomato your eyes gonna be drawn to that tomato sometimes color sometimes it shape there's things could dominate the scenes just being aware of what they what you got in there and then sometimes so you get the tomato maybe just you showing just a part of it now instead of the whole thing in order to scale back from it I have a feeling something still might look heroic because of size that I won't know until he shoots so I'm going to make sure that you will give critique again I'm not really my ice so he's gonna shoot again everything this is an herb collage collection how I do it um whatever works for you again a bunch of different ingredients not one is better than the other because they're all beautiful everything in my life is beautiful and here is so and I'm looking already comptel I think there's too much time and I think there's not enough rosemary I can tell already maybe so I can tell by looking at the time is gonna look probably like the hero so I'm going to get that ready to go but can you see from the table already? One is more than the other so I'm already can anticipate that I'm going to add more rosemary because I don't want to say the time is better than the rosemary I'm probably gonna take away some rosemary here I'm probably going to take away some parsley on can you guys just rotated counter clockwise that's great is a horizontal to uh let's just keep it like that it looks pretty good let me just re arrange things so does one look more prominent tooth in the other basil because of the leaves, right? Okay, so I should where is all this way we'll take in a few hours to yeah, few out so here's a way to photograph an image where there is no one specific star and where there's multiple images within the scene just making sure there's somehow still consistently even yeah, the basil leaves a really big yeah and they're really big and puffy compared to the smaller leaves that's what friendly? Actually yeah. So looks better. It looks better shoot it again let's see if you can get on the horizontal. Yeah let's do horizontal horizontal. Isn't it pretty though the texture and the green on that thank you and then with that I think there might be too much parsley for shoot not enough rosemary when we spread out the rosemary how you feeling about that? Looking pretty. I just spread this time out a little bit more. You get picky with me, it's ok, totally back and focus. Maybe I pulled this one out e I have a feeling that was kind of the way you're for e I have a tendency to do that, which I should have something to shooting and I'll think about something and I don't do it wait till right before he shoots and then I but sometimes we end up keeping those shots cause my hands in it. So sometimes if you see my hands and it's because I'm always like hanging in the frame items that are not in season say a client says I want to do this photo shoot with cherries. Cherries are in season and in another country they are, and they want him bad enough. There's different purveyors, there's a lot of produce suppliers, restaurant supplies. You probably reach out to those people within your you're you're local area because there are people who need those type of ingredients and they can get for you. I'm not good name specifically. I could tell you off camera. Okay, I know of suppliers that would be able to do that, so how do you feel about that? Good, good. So, again, this is like there's. No one that's the hero. But everything is so I got to make sure see how that size reference and particularly the basil leaves one was bigger than the other. So I gotta keep stripping it down to where you love all your children inoculates you give them the same amount of fertilizer food so that one's not heavier than the other. So you just love all your children of people in making sure that that's equal. So I think this is gonna be the last shot. I think I feel good about this one thing, though. This one I have to take off. Okay, let it out. Okay, I do that all the time to stop, and then I think I feel good about everything. And to me, this feels very like a farmer's market. Maybe, um, a bouquet garni before you throw into a soup. Be great process shot for that. If you wanted to show a soup recipe, so can that texture awesome. Orographic? Yeah. That's a great set up for a graphic too. He'd have something right in the middle here and show all the texture and top down is always like an awesome angle too.

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