Shoot: Styled Chili

 

Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

 

Lesson Info

Shoot: Styled Chili

So no more talk, we're gonna actually show you shoot, okay? Couple things on how we can actually apply all this technique and all this all this theory to real technique, so I'm going to start what the hard part first, because when we started shot less people always say, what do you want to start with? I say, give me the hardest first because I always felt like if I can do the hard won, get that out of the way, that everything is easier and I like heart stuff, so I just give it to me, so I want to start with hard food, which is what a lot of people have challenges with is ugly food, right? And we talked about it before only food doesn't mean it's not delicious, though, hey, because there's a lot of different foods, like ethnic foods that I grew up with, like my mom cooks a wonderful salted fish dish and it's cooked down towards like mush with the skin on and it's like breaking ugly but it's so delicious, but it doesn't mean that I don't want to share that or I don't find out, you know, ...

less valuable than pretty dishes, so I'm always going to, like, think about all the ugly dishes that my mom cooked for us can a serious, really serious I think about all the foods I mean a lot of service pretty too. So let's start with something ugly yeah, let me get my apron just in case I get my my, um, time limit the spread of their yeah, just in case I still so let's start with chili okay? Chilies want like I love chili it's, one of my favorite foods but it is quite ugly because one of the things with chili is that it's so monotone so what I do in dishes with chili stew I love indian food there's a indian chicken dish recently like tandoori chicken I love it it's too it's broken down curries you know, everything's cooked down towards looks like mush. So what I'm gonna do is I'm always going to think about hero people I say well, what's the hero in an ugly dish like a stew or a chili everything looks the freaking same like no, I don't believe you because there is a hero believe about hero ingredients or hear a dish the hero ingredient within the dish thank you so within the hero indeed greeted within the dish it's still the beams right being is the hero, right? So if it's all mushing all monotone and looking the same, what I'm gonna do is I'm going to sing a lot my hero I'm still gonna look for the hero bean, okay? I'm still gonna look for the person with the curtis says so silly, but that's what I do that's, what I get paid to do. So I'm gonna look for the bean and then want to wash it out a little bit, and I'm going to set it aside so I'm gonna clean it out. But cleaning out some of the sauce, the curry, or whatever it is that that suffocating it within the dish, that that doesn't allow you to see it is going to come off and then allows you to highlight the ingredient again. So that's, what I'll do. So if it's a beef stew, if I'm making a beef stew and there is a little bit of carrot that I see in there, at least I know there's carrot, so I'm gonna pull out the carrots. I'm gonna rinse it off and put it, and I'm gonna put it aside and I'm gonna add a leader and then brush some sauce into it. So again, I've identified my hero, which are beans. I'm gonna go ahead and put my beans, and I find that there's two beans there was actually a pinto bean and there's, actually a kidney bean who knew? Right? Who knew like oh my god, you just have to dig into it so this is dinner folks we're just kind of looking at it and like, you know, being really anal retentive about it so yeah here I got just gonna pull out some of these guys and I'm just going to talk about a little water to rinse it off so again, if it's a stew if there's potatoes that's almost I'm going to find just the best potato that I can and rinse it off and I'm gonna put it aside here and so clean up the beans so I've seen it wow it's I can see the beam now today but I can't put it on top because they get doesn't look right because you have a really clean being as I got you tried too hard you faker you faker, you loser food or so you sticking it in put put that aside and again it still looks the same. The next thing I could think about is a garnish but the key is definitely identifying the hero so we're going to shoot this one we're going to the chili first, okay okay, we're gonna do it is the top down, but I've decided to do it on a chalkboard texture and when well we're talking about food styling all of this still is a part of styling which is props darling and textures so when we can't hot and I are going to inject some of the tips and tricks and how we get textures where to buy and stuff like that so chalkboard is awesome to shoot super awesome one way to get chopped board um is to buy a chalkboard and pay full price for it or actually to buy like a foam core board a piece of old wood board and by chalk paint or chalk spray paint it's the easiest way to make chalk and I love shooting on chalkboard because at so much wonderful texture to it and it's super cool, you know, and it's super, you know, it's super like old school um but it's one way that we love to play with it and it's, not just white chalk, you play with you completely pink chalk or or or blue chalk, so we want I want to shoot this chilly on an interesting texture because it's so black and they know that if I want to shoot this, I want to find it a texture that has personality, so there's balance somewhere ugly food. Maybe I can do it on an interesting texture, so what we'll do is we'll can chalk it up, and the great thing about chalkboard is that you can control your texture, you can go super life talking up a little bit and all of a sudden it's become this old, you know, textured piece and so look at that it's just I'm a loving heart already because I know how talk poor chooch and I really do love the texture that chalkboard gives, and I think it's going to be great to bring more interest and look how he's doing this for movement too, I think it's going to give interest to this boring chili so again, when I think of ugly food, I think, how can I put it in a pretty bull? Pretty texture. So what issue top down in my selection of bowls? I want to always want to choose something that's interesting, and that has colors well and has texture, so with dark and ugly foods, one suggestion is to inject color like the reader or the student asking the chat room can I added linen? Absolutely. If you feel like adding a wonderful a piece of colored linen can add a little bit more life to the ugly food, a little bit more story, go for it definitely all these elements will help make the food look better and photograph better, too, but I think I want to still keep it simple because I've already chosen a chalkboard and again, I'm going to keep this one moody just for this one, so I've chosen my dish that has color and I get when I'm buying dishes for props styling I'm always looking at details people always ask where do you dying what do you buy your stuff I'm telling everybody I buy my stuff in the exact same place that you all dio I just see something different so I do the same thing wanna buy props is would like to do the same thing as if I were in the grocery store I go like this you know I'm always looking going upside down and feeling because I know cameras gonna pick up the blue cameras going pick up this awesome difference in color from the doc brown to the light brown to the blue see all those things really picked up in the camera from the naked eye it doesn't look like anything but from a camera perspective it's amazing so I'm always looking for all those things so I'm always like the glass iness of them to the classiness over the tomb I loved buying flat pieces that we don't have to deal with loss but if you do have objects that are so shiny you came by dulling spray darlings brave really helps dull and matt shiny finishes and shiny dishes just make sure when you don't your dish you can't eat off the same dish because it's not at least tell you wash it well no because it's that if you put it on the dish and the food's on top so again, I'm thinking here so are you ready? Shoot my food's not ready yet you ready to get some angle on this one? What kind of later we're gonna dio were you on dark and moody a document back so let's go here so already top down I'm thinking texture and shape so I know I have a single bowl but it be cool if I added another sauce underneath because it adds shape, okay, everything I'm always looking from the top down perspective if I was shooting to send an angle, I go like this may I go like this? But if I'm shooting top down and going like this and I to that a lot look like dumb because I went to a really great talk fair one time and the scale had really awesome handmade stuff I was gonna buy it, but I kept going like this and she was like e kept like putting it against the ground, you see have it would shoot top down, I need to buy three or four, but she just thought I was crazy, so I'm always like putting stuff let me keep it simple there and then I'm going to go ahead and add that's a simple linen for this cause I do want to inject a little bit of color, but I don't want to do too much just because I still want to keep it simple, simple is more keeping it monotone on the gray tones. I don't need to do something completely to solid or something too busy, and I feel like this great tone with a slight line helps pull out the white and pull up the graves, you know? So I'm seeing a lot of color balance within here, and this is linn and I never ironed my linens because I like him that texture. I pay a lot of money to have it not look starchy, so that's, why I love shooting with linen because it has such a natural flow. I mean, my prop room is half linen a little more expensive, but it shoots so absolutely beautiful because it doesn't look stiff, so I'm looking here so let's, just keep this simple k single subject I'm gonna look here first, top down, you notice I'm always looking top down angles going this way, right? So I'm actually have my butt to you guys, okay? So I want to go this way. I'm looking this way and I'm going to go ahead and let's say, just very simply create some type of movement within the linen, so I'm going to tuck it underneath here because I know the camera's going toe pick up top down this movement here, you know all those things I know that todd's gonna shoot tighten it because I'm gonna tell him that I've cropped and styled it to where it's top down tight I don't need all this, but I'm wide enough just to get the texture of the chalkboard so let me grab a quick utensil tons of utensils where do I buy my utensils? I buy my utensils at goodwill stores, thrift stores. I mean everywhere you name it, you go, I go, but I'm a big grudge store shopper. I'm always at the goodwill, so I'm thinking about where to place it. But again, I want balance so doesn't mean that I have to go since well, since the linens on one side I have to put this on the other side no that's not what I mean by balance because because then in that sense the frame feels very dotted and then it starts to feel really staged. Same thing when you put your garnishes on, you know, think about how what it would look like if you were just to do it naturally, like it just happened right there without you thinking about photography, so I probably just throw it right there I really would and that's how that's my starting point I don't think about it too much but I started thinking about it too much then they start analysing it because again our style is very natural salah just skill I'm just going through it right here then I walk away because I can like hover over that scene for like an hour and then we're going to get anywhere like okay every shot oh, he doesn't have a standing okay after us standing in here here but you're standing so I'll be working on my food and he'll be trying to get a stand in he would be striding get a shot and usually I'll have a second dish so people eyes asking in prime prop styling when you buy property how many do you buy? They usually buy too because I have a budget for it clients paying for if you don't have budget to buy to just buy one okay don't feel like you have to double up on everything it starts to get really expensive and your husband or your spouse might not approve of your shopping habits so my ticket said I'm thinking okay, I've got my chili's out I'm gonna have some type of garnish in it and look like I'm thinking um in the recipe you can always add that yourself if you ever think about how you can have a garnish and simple simple garnishes of course parsley and when I buy herbs I always keep herbs as fresh as possible I'm always having them in water but one so dark it's pretty super pretty dang and I love how your bush todd's cropping in camera okay so usually we would shoot whiter because we would crop later but here because we can't physically do it we'd rather we talked about it so he's just gonna shoot cropped in camera and I love this that he cut off part of the four you don't have to be so literal within a frame and show everything like if you have a glass you don't have to show the whole shape of the glass you have to show the whole four cutting it give that tension within a frame and it allows you to focus on the hero which in this case is the cherry so on the stand for my exposure to I'm not one hundred percent sure where I want my exposure because I'd have a full stand in you know the chilean much how dark or how bright is going to be so I'm just going to get clothes I'm not worried about too much yet at this point but I'm happy with that are you? It looks pretty good starting point but you see the tot the chalkboard the white thing I think it's just awesome how poles from the white of the slain and you see that movement hey there I'm always like thinking movement how can I add that I mean I don't know I can't add a rugal into it maybe I can't I don't know is it my recipe then you start thinking but hear that wolfe mitts on there so I'm happy so are you ready done can I have my bowl please because I only got one so now I need like you know that show is going to have to do this well if it's a handmade ceramic dish I paid one hundred fifty dollars for all probably by one okay so I'm gonna dish so I'm ready going going going to go ahead and basically what I do I just put it all in I'm not gonna tweezer every single thing in and won the way to khun handle really tiny dishes or tiny ingredients and tiny pieces of food is with tweezers I usually use chopsticks I don't bring my chopsticks anything that allows you to grab just because your food styling you don't always need tweezers because the best tools really your hands everyone talks about that food and and cooking whatever your tools truly out your hands truly are your best tools so I'll always like dig in and stuff like that I don't mind because I want to feel the food but um tweezers or super helpful to have a spritzer spray bottles of water or super helpful to to spray to keep things fresh I'm a little bit of olive oil to brush all those little things to help hydrate and to bring listen to food. I'm just going to put it all in because I want to keep it, really? Because essentially, this is the dish, you can't really change it too much, but I noticed that I'm going to look at I'm gonna let it settle, okay? So I'm gonna let us settle a notice that's really watery, super watery and I want to ask the client. If it suspect ish, can I suck out some of the juice? Can I dry it out a little bit so I can bring up more the texture? Most of kendall say yes, because essentially you can have less when you can just add more the beans on top. So in this case, I would probably get this chilly and drain it out in a little colander and add just not all just only beans, but just enough juice to where you can still see it. So in this case, I'm going to suck it out. I want to dampen out just a little bit of juice just so that I can see more of the beans seeing it's happening, and now I see meat. Oh my gosh I didn't know there was meeting here until there's my paper towels here no, I had it so now I see me and like oh my god there's meeting here so see if I can find some meat so you don't see these things and still use until you start breaking it apart when I don't pull some of that out thank you okay, so I'm getting ready here I'm gonna pull out a little bit more juice just to give a little bit more texture so see thing if you're shooting soups and stuff like that it's really watery think about maybe adding a little bit less broth so now it's a little more if you can all see now now I feel like I can see more beans you see because before there's now he can see me so I just thought it was a bean chili somebody there let's say and then I'm gonna cat immense of parsley a spec um a little crying to black pepper little bit of growing to salt great texture on top so all those things I can think of is you cannot season your food after that's really that's not tricking it out I'm not a big fan of faking it so much to where the food doesn't look like the recipe I always want to make sure recipe integrity first I'm gonna go ahead and say add a little bit of chopped parsley parsley adds texture chopped a little bit of that I'd go ahead and maybe if I can put some of my hero beans out but when I do place on it I gotta figure out where the hero is going to be so talking anchor has focused on so I'm gonna lay my hero red being naked in the center doesn't need to be directly in the center could be off center a little bit so I'm gonna go ahead and lay it off center a little bit you can all see stagger it a little bit but that's my hero being there and I'm gonna tell him that I'm gonna just kind of lay these a little bit so that you can see more of the bean so again one way to see more than greedy ints is to suck out some of the juice and these really ugly saucy foods or show more of the texture I'm ready so almost ready to go here so that in itself looks a little fake to me because it's just too clean of a bean so grab my brush I'll brush it a little bit or dip it in just to make sure that it's sauce but not too much ok because wouldn't it be funny to have three glossy shiny beans the rest all dirty or all sauced and one looks like it just step out of the bath so this is the hero being here okay right here but now that you were being here there's some meat in here somewhere so fulsome made around it that a little bit of texture okay all garnishes all sauces go last never go first because I need to see where we are and I need him to give me a starting point I always say that my go ahead and add this so I'm going to go ahead and add that right here I just don't think he's gonna focus on that so again movement movement texture, shape color all those things that I'm thinking of and it's the top down and they get this is an ugly food so somehow compensating for something ugly issue something cool and I'm again a huge fan of chalkboard chalkboards how's that looking yeah so we grab another ball here who so that glisten on that looks really awesome can you shoot that with a different line so we can keep illustrating you want to see it with a different line see the difference again applying all those things ugly food bringing in some light creon some texture color I mean just start thinking you know I don't feel like your step because you're never going to be stuck trust me after three days your never going if you feel stack then I failed okay okay you will be unstuck if you feel stuck so that's pretty good actually could light it looks pretty good he shooting with different direction of light just so you can see and then you guys tell me even internet you tell us which one way move forward from here so you guys be our client uh well that was quick did you change your lens same ones did you buy a new camera you suck your camera no no would be nice so what did you do you just change the light I know I need a new camera no you don't weigh love which is the light let's go back there like I don't like you went to so much to do let's go let's go back I should help you okay so the backlight is just amazing on this you know can you go back to just one question the question that was earlier from the internet just about top down stabilization so I'm not sure how much you could see from when I was shooting it but I was using my body teo help stabilize so even when I'm down here I can still use my arm against my leg so now at this point this is becoming more stable so what? I'm over the top I'm here this could rest again body structure helping you stabilize for these top down which tends to be a little bit harder to get that that clean smooth shot free well that's just so different and I like the lighting is just like night and day right there just this is no comparison for me knowing what I like okay so going back to making ugly food look beautiful I mean this looks beautiful this to me doesn't looks so beautiful it still look it could be tasty but I mean this one I mean it's just and but now I feel like that venus fake because it's so sticking out isn't it so the internet yeah left left left left left and I went and shay wu says it does look good though the four dark beans arrange a little too methodical yeah and that's what yeah I'm right here feels like it's floating so we could still work with it yep so miss still push it down a little bit more because now I realize the light is capturing it so well now what I thought in theory was going to make sense does it make sense anymore but that's okay we go through this all the time we start by thinking off for shooting a long time this is gonna work we set it up like oh, it doesn't work you know what we do we just change it around and that's okay but let's play with us I'm going to take it down gonna brush a little sauce on it but I'm still gonna know want teo you guys know where my hero guys here okay, but that's gonna feel a little more natural thank you for that internet comment because if you don't want reinforced it if you guys wanted to add a little feel of heat to this yes how would you approach that at chili's yeah I'd bring out the ingredients you see but you can't taste it you add the ingredients talking temperature heat or spicy temperature but a couple things and we have a steamer that we use if you want to capture here you've got to really get your lighting down too that's really important cause that's another variable you've just added to caption within your frame so how we add it is we have a steamer couple things we will steam it I have a land steamer so when he's ready to shoot everything I just put steven right above here in a hallway on the steam floats up a lot of people will add I've done this before just add some hot water and a little bit just enough to steam it up people will add we last workshop we had somebody added candles that's two incense incense you know things like that to add steam and you can hold it like this and move it away those air the natural things we would do I'm sure there's a lot of ways that other people would d'oh but how we would do it is we would use a steamer or yeah we use a candle or something put it around here let us smoking and pull it away a little bit you need to let it really lift more, so it doesn't look like smoke. It looks like steam, so there's a difference? A smoke is more of a dry heat stevens a wet heat, so usually I'll definitely use a steamer or a little bit of hot water. I can have a little bowl of hot water laid around here get the steam going around here at todd's, ready to shoot now pull away, but I'm sure there's other ways, but there's a brother ways, how you add stevie and there's things you have to think of from the photographers perspective of if you're gonna add steam, you didn't the top down where's the steam go like straight into your lens, you know a little bit harder and it's also, um, if you want to capture, stevens can be a little bit easier if you're shooting from angle, because what happens when you go down from the angles to give to kept saying, listen, that light, you have to see the light coming through the steam is going to catch it a little bit better then when you're a top down or if you're shooting, say like a six o'clock flight that's going to be really hard to catch this team because those shadows that get lost yur seems going get lost, too, so just as your shadows changes you move around things like steam you'll capture them differently from different angles to so finding a good angle where you catch that seem if it's important to you okay so way like this light just finishing off yeah lets you would you would miss you too because you didn't shoot after you yeah shoot the hero b I got distracted wait like this on sess clients like you guys are weird like you hired us for who we are so you so you guys internet tell us is that being look more natural now or does it still look thick? I mean you guys tell us I mean you're the tough but don't be mean okay? Just tell us that look okay but you still know my hero being right my hero okay I think that's good I don't want to see him too much because I'm still gonna add another layer parsley I think I'm ready to go let's finish you saw my garnishes are not with the tweezers spect by spec I want my food to look real. You can expect my spec dot if you want there's nothing wrong with that I'm just gonna drop it naturally and then edit later within the plate and pulling it out if I need to but I just wanted to feel natural I totally do I don't want teo are food to report represented faking anyway I don't make sure I don't, um over there being too much that kind of already did here, okay? And I'm gonna add another layer to this too so when you do it in stages just to finish this off is that's how we'll do it? I didn't kind of give that bit of garnish for ugly food we've identified light identified how to bring out the hero in reading because it's still heroic and a little bit texture and that little bit of green really adds that pop and then another thing I can do is add a little bit more see how pretty her that what is c c which one do you like better do you like this one? Do you like this one? Karen we're gonna go for it girl going to the grocery store I want her so and to make it fresh too I have water so I'm gonna depend a little bit of water but there's a problem here because it's child okay, so if you're gonna work with chalk or textures that you deck rub off easy, you've got to make sure it's not fully what and you got to make sure that you get it dead on on the first place so I'm gonna go ahead and I'm going to like, look first to see where I wanna lay so I don't want to wait right here maybe look at the framing, too. So this is a case for ifyou're tethering to it also helps a stylist. The seven c were things that you're seeing as a photographer so they can see that visualize about where they need to place things and makes everything a little bit easier make you feel a little more authentic. I'm gonna create a little crumb in mess, so we always when we should reclines always have the safe shot that's no crumb or no sprinkle because that's always a debate kramer no crumb, you know, but in the end, people always choose from we're not coming out of the question it is zone our debates seriously way to shoot one with and without that, we got to move on and we can move on get great good, so I think we're getting through to variations we got one with this and one with, um, the little bit of the garnish being pulled out within the frame because again, unless people know, because that could be cilantro, it could be meant people don't know. So one way to be able to bring that out and allowed you to add a little more interest iss from bringing out that ingredient, which is now you know, it's parsley, so there's, no question if it's, cilantro, parsley or whatever and that curve is just like awesome, isn't it? Well why would I don't like it there so it's two dead center so let me move here just to make you feel a little more natural it just feels like it's so um dead center I kind of still wanted balanced and grip to the right the rule of thirds because it just feels more now I have a question about you mentioned inspect recipes so what? So you're dealing with the clients and what percentage of the time where you actually taking that recipe and creating it yourself and do they do a storyboard always to let you see what it looks like right when you're baking in creating it? You know? Or the other question is what if you're dealing with chef who says I want to do it, you can just kind of style it a little bit d then go to the restaurant and do the shooting there said kind of a two part yeah it's a two part question let me see if I remember the first one wass due respect, let me redefined spec food spect fuda specifies spent specific food spec photo is restaurant food particularly restaurants that have multiple chains across america and then they all need to make sure all the kitchens are putting out the same food suspect food is, for example, there's exactly six ounces of chicken four ounces of chicken so we need to make sure it's suspect so there is no leeway really too change the dish because they've already established the menu the chef's one they're developing it, you know, they didn't think well, maybe it could have added rice to it to make a photograph better they were developing the recipe for taste and value, so for taste in value, they're going to make sure that it looks the way it is and I have to follow that one thing I can do is crack a pepper so there's not a lot of leeway inspect food, but there's a biscuit it needs to look in the image the same way it's coming out of kitchen and a diner is going to see it. Yeah, particularly if it's going to be maybe on the menu does tend to be what we find our clients are the most particular about if and it depends on the restaurant to some, they love that creative flexibility there like I don't care it's like I just want to look beautiful, it doesn't have to look exactly the way it's coming out of kitchen you'll have other clients where it's like, they'll count the number of shrimp that are showing, you know, way only, you know, there's only four force from that goes out on this dish you can't have five in there so that'll be a bit on the client of how specific and how exacting it has to be. And then there's. Other times, we'll be let's, say, it's, a recipe that it's a certain recipe that we have to follow. So we have to make everything too risky, whether we're making or someone else and making it, um, and you can have a little bit of creative control. And then there's, kind of the third step where it's, you basically have complete flexibility. It's, like, isn't anything set in stone? Things could be shifted, changed around.

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!!!!