Shoot: Savory Fried Chicken

 

Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

 

Lesson Info

Shoot: Savory Fried Chicken

Maybe just a little bit more challenging in that we're gonna add well, challenging a little bit later but let's choose a we stay here, we're gonna do fried chicken next fried chicken brig awaiting the work up tio a very simple subject to something that is a little more challenging because it has glare now we're gonna work with shooting, lighting it's um, challenging dishes like meat and fried chicken and then in the food styling the next section we're gonna go into that more, but I've chosen oh, healthy can I have the fried chicken there? Thank you so much. So we're going to shoot fried chicken and you're the client, right? And you just said, I've gotten the best fried chicken and I want to make it look good, but when it comes to meet its dead like yes, I'm shooting something dead and essentially you are. So this is where when you're shooting dead subjects or meat or something that doesn't have a lot of texture. So we went from sheila shooting something really simple berries are so sim...

ple cherries air so simple let's, challenge yourselves a little bit and apply that lighting technique to something challenging so mean, if you look at this there's, just no texture, it all looks like, look, somebody loved this, someone try to eat this because they love fried chicken but that's ok but if you want to shoot it we want to make it look delicious with some texture and because it's breaded they all look really uniform so the first thing I'm gonna do is to choose something with the best looking shape which is probably going to be this drumstick so to make it hotter and are hard on ourselves I'm going to create a sea of the same texture so this is where you're really gonna have to apply the concepts of lighting to be able to bring out this chicken so we're going to make I'm gonna make it hard on you thanks thanks. So I'm gonna go ahead and at least just place this drumstick here it's laying a gun bunch against that she's doing that with the camera front yeah so great if we were talking it through so I've already made this camera front so when we're talking or when you're styling your food always know where your camera friend is and I've already told him that this is going to be horizontal okay horizontal so let's say we want to shoot this so he's going to decide now now that we've talked about the light we know what each direction khun give us in terms of mood now he's going to decide so okay this is really hard because the client gave us this fried chicken and it just looks bad. It all looks the same. It looks interesting. Looks interesting her looks interesting so we need thio isolate this chicken from this mass of so first inside. What sort of mood? What's going let's do a dark mood, a dark mood and use it before starting se teoh, I'll do everything I can to to bring out some texture. So if your recipe for chicken with clients recipe also hey, it doesn't happen to be like that rosemary fried chicken, is it? We'll be like no, sometimes they'll say, why is it shoot better? I'm like, yeah, I'm like okay, I'll change the recipe of my good for so think about all those things. So if you if you are let's, say working with a challenging dish and it just doesn't shoot all that well, thinking about maybe how you can pull out ingredients within the batter or making the batter herb time, because then you can add those elements to make this dish come out more. In addition, with the light that's gonna work with you, so did you identify your rosary? Have we decided this? Could be where is mary fried chicken? Yeah, sure let's do that, but let's shoot it without the rosemary first, so again, we're going to start at our, um start simple right or is going to keep with their light and then we're going to deal with if we need to block or so after um you know as you get comfortable with it, then you can start jumping steps ahead but especially at the beginning what we found first I was personally we always jump to the end of the week that was the end result and it wasn't what we were expecting it was kind of hard to like reverse into break down to get to where we're wanting dependencies the easiest starting point for us well, we end up learning for ourselves was tio I said keep it simple you just started simple, clean and then slowly build up from what you want so let's get with now it's greek is the surface and like the prop that diane has is um you know, this surface and then this pans like they're going to help blend that rustic element to it that dr moodiness to it. So this is already helping my image. So the light is now you think immediately for you know that darker lights like all you need to get dark and moody to get this image well, we also need to bring some life we need to bring some separation within the image too, so we're not getting the same thing this is homogeneous blob and we all loved homogeneous thiss type of food, but when it comes to photographing it, it's a whole other challenge, and we're gonna talk about that later too. But for this, at least is just trying to work with light and so putting on this would've already defined it as a country fried chicken, something country very rustic. Buttermilk I think this is essentially butter melt. So looking at this time because he's done this a long time, you can see it's still looks like a drumstick. And the reason why is because he knows that a little bit of backlight is going to create that separation and it's going to highlight the textures and it's going to be able to separate the texture is a little bit more so I know you love that front light and I love it too. If you were to shoot this on a front light, things would be all molded together. We're going to show you that. So this looks pretty darn good. First time I know that's a drumstick and I can see that there's multiple chickens because some clients or the need is I want to show it is a feast. You know, it be kind of like boring if I just showed one drumstick. So create a situation we're making it hard on yourself um is actually a good thing you're gonna learn and that's how we taught ourselves we didn't always make it easy we'll say well, let's just like literally let's just shoot a bunch of me let's shoot a bunch of ugly food and let's try to see how we can make it work fried chicken no no it's delicious way I'm not even gonna use this year I want to save it for another time because I feel this looks pretty and then so part of like, the things that I'm thinking about like what I'm going into the frame me of it is what I want I don't want to show everything I don't need to see this whole pan to know what's in a pan so I'm getting off parts of the edges on the pan just within the framing again I'm choosing um even though I have a pile of chicken I'm choosing hero I'm choosing one point that's my focal point I want people to focus in on and so you know, of course for this one is that first drumstick where am I putting that drumstick? I'm putting it on my rule of thirds so and again these are rules rules were meant to be broken, so that isn't necessarily where you're always gonna put things, but it's have a good place to start you'll find it's like things just feel nice, like when you start framing around the rule of thirds, and this looks really great. I can see that there's one, two, three, four, five, six pieces of chicken because it's really important for clients when they're let's say they're selling chicken and their menu, they need to say it's a family dish. I need to show at least five pieces, but there's, no herbs, dant, there's, no salad that goes with it. It just looks like that. Great. So this is the lighting that we're going to use to our advantage to create this so let's, use that front light. Okay, can you create to get the same angle? Sixfour yeah, just do the six o'clock direct front line and see if you're still going to get some of the layers and see this is the complete opposite light. So a lot of times when people you maybe you're always shooting front light for a lot of the challenging things and everything looks like one clump, maybe move around, you know, walk a bit, do a stroll, that's going to think before you shoot, do a stroll, that's the food stroll, yeah, do the clock stroll, and then you know you'll see why day wasn't all that difficult. So that's a front light let me go a little bit of good in this world, doctor so things become a little more kind of seems like you're shaking your head. You don't like that like what you like. Six o'clock I remember what you like and everyone but what you eat way so what's your immediate response to that it's it's white in some areas, it's not white and on the pieces of chicken doesn't make it hurt, like highlighted the bare spots that lost their crumb. Okay, all right, the back light dark in the front, which in some situations it could be hurtful. But in this situation, it worked. So you just got to keep moving around and this becomes more like clump, it comes more uniform and to me, this this still looks delicious. I'm still gonna eat it, ok, I am not. I don't judge fried chicken thiss for some reason it feels more crispy to me. Right? That's what I see I feel like christmas crispy. It feels juicier to me on the side it feels like with the light wrapping around it feels like it just came hot out of the fryer. I'm not making this stuff up and this is what I really see but you can I mean this is what we talk through with clients like oh yeah, I really like it now but what a difference between yes western do you ever have the clients there at the shoot oh yeah which actually sometimes fourteen of them so wow yes, there are a lot of you know like most I'd say most of time for the clients the client is giving the approval and so we want them there because otherwise that approval is going to have to take place online which is horrendously slow even the best of intentions is going to be slow so for us to have a client on set can be awesome it um you know, a lot of times you as professional photographers you're moving beyond just capturing your own story your own photographic voice you're finding out what someone else's voices and capturing it that capturing that for them that's why it's important for us as professionals to be ableto be able to shoot different different feels different moves because you're capturing what someone else is wanting and so for them to be on set is awesome because they're there to give us that immediate feedback we're able teo talk with them feel their personalities they're experienced see their reactions sometimes they're dying and say anything you just see it in their face you know, and just playing off that to find out like what they what they want and actually reminds with you when we go teo one day I was talking about the light how you saw it hits that light bright spot versus the dark one so that that's going, um leads into an example of let's say, like before and you did want like when you asked a question about changing styles, whether it's like I want to change house or I don't want to change styles let's say you want those person that's like I want to shoot the exact give that same field to a subject no matter what the subject is, I like I have my own particular brand new style. Does that mean you're going to shoot from the exact same spot every single time? No, because sometimes you're going to need to move relative to your subject cause your subject is still going to capture light a little bit different from one subject to the other. So you know if you have a particular style you like you still have to move around you still have to kind of seeking to find the light all the time but shoot more I don't think this is so much fun it's so much more to show you so you wear you down all right there would you talk down channel so we're gonna do a quick top down because some of you love top down so how you gonna ply top down? So we've already, like added all these layers how you gonna play a top down behind you to an ugly dish? Because I like to shoot down there's a lot of you that love top down and there's a lot of you that don't shoot talked a lot of you that don't like it, but what we want to do is make sure everybody is represented there's full representation here for people who shoot top down and get to show you um we're just going to shoot this twice I'm not gonna put any rosemary on it because we're going to make it hard on ourselves. It's so easy just do a fleck of rosemary or parsley and that's like the number one ingredient everybody adds last to their recipe parsley first leave the number one thing I'll just add parsley tie or time chapter so let's, shoot this let's shoot this with a direct frontal light on the back light how's that so you can see the light difference on a top down three sixty? Yeah it's just too shaken tough so you also see um with the top down versus the angle how much it's going to change, too it's not gonna be as dramatic of a change now that I've changed my up and down position, you know, when I'm coming down lower from an angle it's like you're goingto see those highlights quite a bit more here, okay, so when we're shooting, I has identify hero um, identifying this as a vertical because I've already placed it is a vertical we're going to talk through everything that we shoot now vertical if I had placed it like this, he would know that she has a horizontal so please always if you know, you always shoot horizontal don't keep placing stuff on the length wise because it definitely changes the composition. So thinking about all those things now so it's not just about light now it's about look starting big texture hero okay, front way do a front light six o'clock will do back light I'm telling you all you six o'clock people are gonna be changing over maybe, but not always. You get six more to yeah, I am. I am you need me with the cord? Yeah, so what's that you can save six alight literally direct front light relative to the subject light isjust coming right up front and we're not gonna block anything because you just won't understand what that black mood does, and then later we can block if we want but sometimes at home, if you guys are watching, shoot along with us, I think it's really easy because we're not doing anything complicated, we're just choosing a subject, and then if you have a window shit along, too, and then see, so that is a top down front there. You, um maybe what do you at increase ticket of you're a fort before? Yeah, so when I say tell him, take it to for me, I want him to crease step the field because it started to blow out. We just want to show see a little bit more chicken for a top down because generally and top down, what you want to do to be able to see a lot more of the frame so we would increase our f stop, make it more and focus so the blur helps when you're shooting on an angle, because it's pretty to blow up, blow out a lot of things in the background, but sometimes when a top down on a top down show, you want more things in focus, you'd wantto increase your stop. So this is a six o'clock front light that it kind of gives that same field that we shot on the table top, it still feels like one clump of brown me what clump of fried me? It all starts to look it looks pretty good but it's still it's every stinks still kind I think feels like one club so I'm assuming I could be wrong you know, just because theoretically we always go into a a shot thinking well, this is gonna work in theory it doesn't always work so let's try to shoot with this and we shot knowing you were okay with it so how about we way overboard that's aboutthe a little of your little over so go under so now we just need a change because we didn't like what we wanted I'm not gonna change a light I'm not gonna like change a line there anything yeah rearranging the chicken like what did you have in mind when you're shooting talk down we're trying to increase the surface yeah spread up chickens out so here's a twelve o'clock so we're gonna put two side by side so you can see side by side the chick in the front and the back light to show and again this is a pretty hard subject is it's just fried meat there's no herbs or anything like that? So if we can get both to show side by side yeah so they're going to bring two side by side but to me this feels better already, you know, starting to feel better already because they start to really define the shapes a little bit more I start to see this drumstick more than I see that drumstick I start to see god, I start toe I start to see this guy back a little bit more what else do I see? Yeah, and I really love the shadowing right here because it to me it makes this piece look more plump. So those are the things that I'm starting to see if you disagree, let me know to or if you see something different, let me know because it's always great when we're working with clients because they tell us what they see because what you see is different from what I see. So again, just a easy light change front back and then we have two different textures. Yes, I don't know how you decide what angle you're going to shoot from you should something from all kinds of angles for what? You have an idea at a time um, for us personally on the blogger will know which one we want to shoot already. It really depends if it's an ingredient shot and there's a lot of process going on, we're going to choose the top down because we love that that whole visual and part of it we live all the shapes, we love all the colors we love all that texture we're not afraid to show that we loved that mess. So that's another thing is like we like her pictures perfectly in perfect like we love that imperfection teo where that you have a little bit of the crumb in the mess so inish and for our personal style we will shoot a lot of top down because we love the crumb we want to make you feel like you're there with us in the kitchen so when you're changing from top down teo angle though both kind of emphasize something different top down you start seeing she talked about the shapes more um you you feel I'm not mostly the whole scene, but it it flattens the height of things so it brings things more almost into a singular singular plane so then I would say you have a bunch of cuba lt's, you know, with the ingredients in it you're going to start to feel the geometric quality of like those bulls and how they feel then when you dropped down you're starting to see more of ah front back and center within the image you're going to start lending height to the shot so they have this really cute cocktail glass and yeah, and you shooting this cocktail if you should get top down you're going to lose a lot of that height that que nous of the glass years catching just the top of your image first if you're dropping down and angle then also it's like you get bringing this height to it, you can drop down even to like a really low angle and you can make a sandwich seem like it's this big towering sandwich first, if you're a top down it's like you just feel it's a sandwich us, maybe more part of a scene, then it is about that individual sandwich. So if it's something that has height, thin texture that we want to show or something that we want to really let you see into it, we'll choose an angle, but generally, when we shoot, we like to mix it up personally, so we'll know that we'll always want generally a angle and a top down just to mix it up. Clients will go both ways. Clans will go both ways, but with they'll define first what they want to shoot and where most clients are going towards now. A lot of them are going top down years ago, they were always afraid even a lot of clients who were on photo shoot two years ago, they tell us now that if you told me five years ago would be shooting top down, we wouldn't be able we doing it, but now they love top down, so it's still kind of something new that some people have to embrace, and so which one do you like better? Yeah, you noticed I say which one do you like better or which one is better than ever you see which one is better? Which one do you like better? You like the right and it's a, um buckling chris with things like that so let's just for fun while we're here. Um this will lead into the next segment which is put styling and shooting in the context of a shot so we lead into that and show you how amazing one little edition can make an image so let's say chef has his buttermilk fried chicken he didn't like it. I was like chef making, but if rosemary fried chicken he'll say okay, so that I can add this on here and we're only gonna add ingredients that make sense so we're never gonna add something that's not in there because that's another issue is recipe integrity making sure what you're shooting is true to the recipe that's really important, particularly for food bloggers. So if you want to make it cretin, you add a lot of these herbs and they're going to let people know that there's orbs in the food. But if it's not in your recipe, you should really consider making that change and retesting so adding texture leading into our next segment, I'm going to add a little bit of rosemary, okay, and so for those of you who still feel like this is too ugly and it's, just like you would still not eat because the question is, would you would you eat that that's how we decide if a shot is done is we ask the client, would you eat that like, yeah, I would eat my own food, I would eat that, but if we look it, I'm like not what needed. Then we keep shooting until we would eat it. So that's, another phrase that we used to say I approve, but I'm happy with it, so I'm gonna just our lightning go a bit so I'm looking at this here and I'm moving around. I was looking to see how the light's falling on the chicken also again. How it's falling on my surface in this case, it's not so much the white surface, but the pan, the pans, another surface we have to deal with. So when I was here top down strict with this light, it gives one light reflection. But I mean, just adjust and move a little bit. Not too much just teo bring it out a little bit more and then also noticed how much that pop of color on the rosemary makes for it too so just a simple edition of something that looks a little challenging and stale so as a little bit of color a little bit of texture yeah you see how he changed the light a little bit a little stronger light you see more shadows compared to the last one thanks guys looks great so look at that I actually I don't know and I'm trying to look at this independent of the rosemary just on the light just talking about light I don't know I kind of like this one for me because I'm not afraid of shadows I like it because it helps lived the chicken off of the texture you get see that too that shadow in this situation is super helpful so let's show real quick and if we were to fill I mean because some people might say well it happens all the time I don't like that shadow which is fine your not a shadow person has a black this's that actually the chalkboard it's actually so let's say you're not a shadow person so let's just show you what it would look like if you were to fill it in so it's kind of kind of happy with it and you know the screens good there's a lot more contrast e too maybe here but let's say you just need to fill it in a bit so we would just on this and I get these air again just really simple tools simple concepts to shoot and then we're gonna show you some other tips later to be able to make a difference so that's building so if we could see the before and after so this was filled in they're gonna see after that actually is good f soften it a little bit and I think it's not so harsh so I probably keep the field in light too so they're still shadowing what I'm always afraid is I don't want to make sure I don't feel in the shadows too much for you take it all away because it starts to feel flat but fighting that balance and finding that balance that you like that you're happy with and also like when you're filling it there's not just one phil let's say you filled it and you didn't know this was too much for you but you didn't like the first one how do you change that you just changed by your have to phyllis close move your balance just a little further away from the subject so let's say I want let's get kind of somewhere in between the two yeah so before I was close I feel a lot so I just moved my distance that's maybe moving back here then you start to get the in betweens and then you know but but the great thing about this is that you are in total control control of your light a lot of people feel so um stuck, you know, with lighting and we don't feel like you need to feel stuck because maybe you just need a couple of different concepts to think about a couple of simple different tools we can see you know, all three side by side perfect rosalie come up in a second but you know, I start to see here where it starts t soften up a little bit and so with that I feel like, you know, it just feels so much more empowering it really does to be able to say okay, I know what I'm doing and I can do it, I know what I have to do, I just have to practice and do it so that way you don't feel like I'm always going to get dark shadows and I I hate it so that's why I can't shoot it so many times when people say I can't choose something or I don't like it it's because they haven't tried something different kind of like todd situation with his grandma knows carrots and he always hated until somebody gave him a different way to cook it and this is the same way too you might not like top downs, you might not like shadows well, hopefully this will give you a way to be able to say, hey, I added a little bit different I've season that a little bit differently maybe I might try it more and diversify you know and try different voice in a different style any questions out there and that land way surely dio always over here so yeah yeah a wide be asked when you're shooting a six o'clock photo how do you stop yourself from getting in the way of the light and creating a big shadow yeah good question so good um are we talking you're giving you're basically getting out of the way as best you can sometimes you're moving gnashing directly six o'clock maybe you're shooting five thirty you know just a little bit off to the side so that way the light can get past you it depends how high up or how download you are for the subject to and how high up and how high how higher how low your light sources situation like this where light sources coming here behind me well I don't have to do too much and I can see my shadow's getting out of the way of the subject so you're basically just tryingto minimize your shadow falling and cross and sometimes just a little bit of a tweak maybe left to right to get yourself out of the way dodge a little bit great another quick question are kind of ah suggestion as well what are your thoughts on using a colorful towel or something instead of in ingredient that's not in the recipe would you keep it more simple? Oh, great question I would answer a lot of that in the next session perfectly which is incorporating the color yeah that's definitely great and that's more kind of a prop styling food styling question what's not so much lighting it's more bringing in other textures and colors into it and that's another way to do it so again we're adding layers so this is one way to help to find the food if you're stuck and you can't get a different light this is where the food stand is going to help prop styling beginning next segment yeah beginning the next segment so stay to go over that way we're regulars cayenne also people were talking about spritzing the chicken and all and all sorts of that so that's coming up which was great um so what time of day do you do most of your you're shooting for a client? Because you know early in the morning a certain kind of light and then around you know later in the evening is a certain type of lightning you khun do three six and nine uh different times of the day but what time do you usually shoot for clients particularly because our garage door space in a certain window I'm certain directions about two thirty three o'clock harsh light starts to come in to our lighting area for our studio so usually when we shoot call time is usually at seven o'clock in the morning and we shoot to shoot two till two thirty that's consistently across the board when it comes to our natural light work, some clients are shaka wall we've been another shoots will shoot till nine like first we shoot till two thirty generally means sometimes we'll shoot a little later on we'll triple diffuse but to keep color consistent and white balance consistent and we can always do it imposed too but we really want to make sure it's all consistent within the same lighting style, so we usually shoot from seven till two thirty and that's on a client end and then they like that because they can go and finish off their office work or whatever later and some don't like it and then that's okay, they just have to pay for another day that's how it works you were great, you were at you were southern california's, so you know it also helps you cannot avoid like the food manning times yeah, way love because the beach we tried to hit darby too, so that was the way she used to shoot till two thirty that's where the light is at home, so we have windows all throughout the house, so we shoot all day in the house so we should cause we've already identified the time of day and the window way might be moving to a different area you know, morning we're shooting, you know, maybe by the living room and the, uh afternoon we're seeing on the opposite side of the house, but we'll shoot in the office we'll just move a computer so your light source will be dependent on on what time of day you're going to shoot, but I don't feel that we're bound to time a day we always met give options because we've identified it at home at least for the blogged client there's a lot more limitations so it's two thirty great questions everyone and these two segments have truly just flown by for those of us here and also hopefully those of you at home there is so much information already packed into just two we have people chai ming in at home tr the len says omg my from my food shoot from yesterday I literally took over sixty shots of the same blade of pasta and wound up with on ly to that I could use so you're in the right place you're in the right place oh yeah that's usually people always shoot fifty or sixty they feel stuck and we were in that fifty shot place so the gold now when we shoot when we talk about let's, get it in five we get because we're at this point, it's official with clients if that's ambitious shot list, we don't keep shooting so they can, like, keep looking. We're like let's get in five so we thought it through and like bam, bam, bam! And sometimes the first shot is there like, wow, but some things will say, well, we don't want to make it so easy on you, but we really think it through and really focus on light, but if we keep shooting everything fifty, sixty times, first of all, you've got a ton of hard drive. You're gonna have to invest into store all that excess, get frustrated, you're going to feel more like you failed because you said shot sixty and only feel like you like to, so train yourself to shoot less, but shoot more quality and train yourself to be more confident in it and say, yes, I like it, so you can stop, you know, and I think the more that you are out there doing it, the war, you see thatyou could take less and be confident, so get out there and do it.

Class Description

Food styling photography isn’t just about taking a delicious image; it’s a way to tell a story about tastes, seasons, and aesthetics. Learn how to artfully capture that story in-camera and share your work with potential clients and collaborators.

In this course, you will learn how to craft a food story through images that are unique, intimate, and meaningful. Noted food photographers Todd Porter and Diane Cu will show you how to utilize natural light whether you are shooting at the table or in a restaurant. You’ll learn simple techniques for food styling that will keep your food fresh and believable on set. Todd and Diane will also share strategies for creating a thriving food photography business through their successful blend of online marketing and community building.

Whether you want to explore a new career in food photography or are seeking to improve your existing food styling skills, this course will arm you with the technical skills and industry knowledge you need to succeed.

Reviews

ValeriaArdiyants
 

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!!!!