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Shoot: Large Table Setting

Lesson 35 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

Shoot: Large Table Setting

Lesson 35 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

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Lesson Info

35. Shoot: Large Table Setting


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction






Hero Shots


Motion in Restaurant




Restaurant Details


Lesson Info

Shoot: Large Table Setting

Now I can do is set up for an initial top down for table and the next mail saying that we're gonna be using everybody else in the shot we're gonna break this down, I'm actually gonna keep the fried chicken we can just take the beer away for now, so what we're going to set up for now is that table scene what we love to do so much are the top down table scenes where everybody's eating and feasting together hands toasting, eating fried chicken so the scene for this one is going to be fried chicken again and it's going to be since it's summer we're going to sell well, it's it's not summer yet will be summer we're going to celebrate the coming of summer by setting up a thank you a um summer picnic sing so I've had a bunch of my other border much of my food all ready to go, so we're going to show you step by step within this segment the next segment how we get to these table shots because so many people ask us how we do these table shots and how long does it take? And quite honestly it doesn...

't really take that long at all if we do it for the blogged and even with clients because the goal of this is to make it look really natural and very real and in keeping it really riel part of it is really making it look like you're truly at a table where somebody's eating so it's very kind of anti perfect you've got a little bit of crumb, yeah, a little bit of mess, but what you got to focus on is just placement of everything, and this is kind of one of the most fun type of shots that todd and I do, but I still find that it's very easy. You know, it doesn't seem to take so long because of the fact that the focus israel, so we set up the table as if we were going to be sitting at a table, what our table would look like, or what our friend's table with lights. So we're going to start off with a simple texter, which is what? Because the story here is going to be a summer picnic with friends corn, we have watermelon fried chicken, mashed potatoes, you name it it's like this, this epitome of summer gathering. So in this scene, which one's going to be the hero, the hero is basically going to be the big scene. But even when when there's a top down and a multitude of ingredients, you can still going to need one hero for the photographer to at least focus on, so I think in this case, the focus that I want to give todd and he'll always ask me when we're doing a table scene he'll say what my focusing on and I think in this case I'm going to make it the salad they're going to make it the salad because it has the most color and it's gonna pop from the table another hero is going to be of course fried chicken the fried chicken could be here, but I find that it's going to be blended too much into the surface, so I've already identified my hero to be the salad and in tabletop scenes I never place my hero dead southern it just just feels very fake it's this this spot in the center and everybody's things built around and it's just so literal you know the top down seems you want to make it a supernatural is possible, so if I'm going to tell todd this is what you're going to focus on and to be the hero, I'm gonna always place it off center already because it's kind of so obvious already in this sense begin everything else is going to show, but I just need to give him something to focus on. So I'm gonna make this the hero for now and then all the elements that we have that I need to pull out and oh, can you bring the watermelon, please? And we're going to be what watermelon we're going to do um strawberry rhubarb pie that you guys worked on and I don't very have their many strawberries left we might just have to keep it to the color that it is in right now or the state of the pie at the moment and so we have this what else we're gonna have? We're just going to make it a smorgasbord of potato chips a horizontal over um horizontal top down hers on top down with the boards this way yes, let me just thank you, kelsey s so when tod's working on this, I'm just gonna bring out a ton of food and identify all of the items, so look at the color in it. So when I'm shooting a scene like this and if I know it's going to be dark wood and summer, I want the colors of summer to pop out so that's the story the color of summer in a table they already come up with the title, the colors of summer, the flavors of summer you know, the flavors of some are really reflected in color, so I've got yellow corn, I've got watermelon and you can't have a summer gathering without watermelon watermelon I've got pie, I need bread never got bread, how about some bread and sometimes making bread really natural and really, really I don't really ever cut it and I was just break it because that break and a loafer breath just field like hands were a part of it rather than a sharp object so I love doing that someone had read so when we set up these scenes we identify everything that we need it's going to be a massive stuff. How about cherries? Yeah, what else we have how about peaches right? You can't have summer without like this is like one big mess, isn't it? Check it out. I've got peaches. What else do we have here? No chocolate cake okay, the raspberry tart great. And I have another loaf of bread too. This might be too much but what I do is I just kind of lay everything out and get an idea of what colors go well together way want radishes? Is that too much you like radishes? Yeah, I just picked it off the ground but nobody's going to eat it, see what other colors so I do this to see like it is it too strong of a color? Yeah, it might be too too much because I've got the cherries let's keep it that way so we're just gonna get initial set here. Oh, we need dishes for people to eat on, all right, so let me add one or two plates right keeping plates somewhere let's just add three so a feast for six or seven right that looks good I need to put the watermelon on a dish. What kind of dish that I want to dio they want to do something cool and rested cause I've got my wood I'm going to make it one day fun let's use this one let's use this one he was like this one this one so let's do this let's um, corn out. Okay, what? I'm laying my while I'm ellen, I just want to keep it real and natural. Okay? So we've got watermelon these air flavors of summer in a table how's that okay, so I need talk to give me a shot first so I think it's this point words and skin so this is how we start the seeds we just throw everything on the table as if we were going to eat I mean, I don't want to think about it too much, I really don't I don't want it to be too precise and two perfect ofthese things things are feasting thing scenes are about gatherings in the moment and food and the social interaction. They just want to show you this plate I got for five cents yeah, there it is the proof for five cent so I got five of them and it cost me twenty five cents for these five awesome place she's my little bargain break I'm really excited about this this is what we've been building up to so I just want atleast get a scene and think about it over break and see where I can put you on what yoga pose I need you to dio to get the hand position but that way you know during break will leave you with this and minds you can get an idea where this is going to become in the next segment doesn't it feel like summer or any and we lost our single piece it's okay and I can make that rhubarb filling a little more red if you want I'm just kidding I think I have some strawberries somewhere you know e q wanting to add stuff it's hard not to you know, hands come later has come later I was having over the table and thinking about what else I can add so actually I think the way you have a set out our heroes mara pie really ok so well that over okay then we'll walking around the table here I can't wait to see this one wonder if I have too much bread but I don't know until you get a shot so he's teletype just give me a shot give me starting for food. Mmm mmm mmm mmm okay see how it's good stylist makes a photographer looks really good it's the light guys I really think it's the life. So this is give, give me the chilled. I am so excited, so excited. So, anyway, so this is what we wanted to end this with. Yuki. See where the starting point is and how this is going to become much different, and not necessarily better, because this could be a great shot. But how is just gonna be different terms of engagement story, but this in itself says, has so much story already, not because I narrate it to you, but because just by looking at it, you know, because I tell you so.

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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