Food Photography: Creating Your Unique Story | Leela Cyd | Skillshare

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Food Photography: Creating Your Unique Story

teacher avatar Leela Cyd, Editorial and Commercial Food Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Camera & Supplies


    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.

      Preparation Images


    • 7.

      Edit the plate


    • 8.

      Back to Basics: Color & Shape


    • 9.

      Tidy vs Messy


    • 10.



    • 11.

      Angles Overview


    • 12.

      3/4 Angle


    • 13.

      90 degree Angle


    • 14.

      Macro Angle


    • 15.

      Overhead Angle


    • 16.



    • 17.



    • 18.

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About This Class

Create and share a five-image photo story of your favorite food experience. You might be inspired by a recipe, a location, a getaway, or something you've always wanted to try.

Style, shoot, and curate a series of photographs telling a unique culinary story in this 30-minute class from food photographer Leela Cyd. Perfect for photographers, bloggers, and food enthusiasts, learn how to elevate single images into a full experience. Gather props, style dishes and tablescapes, master 4 fundamental angles, and seize the opportunity to grow your skills and food vision into a compelling, inspiring narrative.

Want more? Check the other classes in this series: Food Photography: Shooting in 5 Styles and Food Photography: Creating Your Unique Story.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Leela Cyd

Editorial and Commercial Food Photographer


Leela Cyd is a photographer based in Santa Barbara, CA. She makes photographs as a means to see, experience, learn from, and interact with the diverse cultures of the world.

Raised a block from the Pacific Ocean around a table full of artists and writers, she's forever been sharing stories and influenced by creative lives. Currently, she authors an award-winning travel/food blog TEA CUP TEA.

Leela shoots food, travel, interiors, and portraits for an assortment of editorial and commercial clients. She is represented by Redux Pictures in New York.

Leela hosts photography workshops around the US and in Italy every year with her pal, Bianca of Italian Fix.

Leela currently works with The New York Times, Ten Speed Press, Clarkson Potter, Cooking Light, Food... See full profile

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1. Trailer: Hi, I'm Leila Sen and I'm a food photographer based in Santa Barbara, California. I grew up in a family obsessed with cooking and art. Now, I get to travel the world creating foods stories for different magazines, cookbooks, and other commercial clients. I've created this class for the writer, photographer, blogger, just general food enthusiasts, who wants to take their food photography up to the next level. I start with the basics, prepping for a shoot with storyboard and a shot list. Then we'll explore sourcing props and beautiful ingredients. I'll touch on lighting and camera settings. Lastly, we will get very in-depth with food styling. As your assignment for this class, you will create your own food photo story and upload three to six final images. So, get out there, get cooking, get eating, and make some beautiful photos. 2. Introduction: Hi, I'm Leela Cyd. I'm a photographer and storyteller based in Santa Barbara, California. But you can find me traveling all over the world on assignment shooting; food, people, interiors, and travel, for all kinds of different magazines, books, as well as commercial clients in the hospitality industry and other areas. So, I get around, that's what I love to do. I love my job because it enables my passion for travel to thrive and then I get to create photos along the way. Today, I'm so glad that you're joining us for this class, which is all about creating your own food photography story. It's going to be really, really fun. So, what is a food photography story? It is at least three, and probably at the top six, maybe eight, maybe 10 images that all are telling the story of a certain food. So, that food could be a favorite dish of yours, your grandma's best spaghetti and meatballs, it could be a whole meal like a branch type of thing where you have eggs or fruit and a beautiful pastry dish that you create. So, that could be one food story. It could also be focused on ingredient such as lemon. So, you could create three recipes and three different types of images for each of those items using lemons. So, that's what a food photo story is, and that's going to be your assignment for this class. So, I'd like to show you some examples of what a food story looks like in many different medias, magazines, cookbooks, and online. So, lets go online. Here we have my blog, tea cup tea, and I'm showing how to make South Indian style dahl. So, I've got a prep shot of all the beautiful ingredients. I better finish out over here, more of just a feature which is the doll, and then I've got a few in-process shots of things that you would use during creating that yummy South Indian Dahl. There's one. Here's another one from one of my favorite bloggers and photographers, Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille. She's talking about baked eggs with potatoes and asparagus. They look so good. So, she's got ingredients. You get the idea. It's multiple perspectives on one type of meal. Here's another one from Apt 2Be Baking, which I really like. She shoots exclusively in film, which is an interesting tidbit. So, here she has the finished delicious wholegrain scones, and then she's got some process shots, different points of view again, different perspectives in creating this wonderful story that really makes you want to make that dish. Here's one more from What Katie ate. She is talking about Valentine's Day foods and showcasing different pasta dishes. So, she's got multiple angles, different types of pasta, and this is just creating a really robust story and series. Here's one, I love this of just the plate. Lastly, you can find these on big mega cooking sites such as The Kitchen, which I shot this story about scallops for them. This is a how to, but it shows you many different steps within the process. So, that's another option to create a how to guiding your viewers and your eaters to create this beautiful recipe. So, alternately, you can look to magazines for inspiration, this is one of my favorite Sweet Paul. I just found this great food story about ricotta. So, here's one ingredient, and it's shot by Stacy Valentine in many different ways. So, within a finished dish, in process, you get the idea. It's a range of images that help tell the unique story of your food. What's so powerful about it is that it it's much more robust to show multiples than one specific image in this case, because it really invites your viewer to go along with you, along the process of cooking and creating this delicious meal that you're going to make. So, it's not about one. In this case, it's about many. You can then post these pictures on your blog, or begin to start your own self-published cookbook. You could submit these images with recipes as a pitch to a magazine. So, this class has many different uses. I can't wait to get started to show you how to create your own food photography story. 3. Camera & Supplies : Hi. Welcome back. Today's lesson, we are going to talk about your camera and the supplies that you'll need for a food story shoot. I started with a very lowly DSLR, the first consumer-grade camera that you could buy, a Canon Rebel T1i, which was the cheapest on the market. I shot a lot with that camera and a kit lens. I shot my little heart out on that. I didn't worry about the price of equipment, or the cost, or the way it looked because I was really concerned with my idea and getting the right image. To be honest, that camera served me very well. I shot with it for many different magazines with other art directors just with my kit lens. No one knew it's all about the ideas and what you're doing with your camera. So don't be embarrassed or shy about whatever camera that you have. At this time, it is going to be great. It could even be your phone. I know now the world of mobile photography has just blown up, and you can do some pretty nice photos with just your phone that you already have. So, with that said, when you're starting to kick up your gear, I really, really enjoy the Canon Mark II and Mark III. Those are the two cameras that we're actually shooting with today. So that's what we have. Then I have a spare 60D that I use just in case, or I have it in the back of my closet. So those are my preferred camera bodies. But really, it's all about the lenses. That's going to be the difference maker in turning your photos from some amateur into beautiful professional images. So if you have money to invest in gear, I highly recommend just starting to invest in the lenses rather than the camera body because that'll give you those dreamy effects, and create luscious, beautiful food photos. So, my favorite lens that I use all this time is this one right here that we're using, which is a 35 fixed sigma lens. It's a beautiful lens, very dreamy, has a low f-stop, and it's great. It's half the price of the Canon 1, and it just served me so well. It's also light enough to carry abroad and on jobs. It just is a beautiful lens. My other favorite lens, over here, is a 100-millimeter macro lens, and this lens is the one that I use almost exclusively for food. So it has just beautiful dimension and a lot of nice glass in it, and it creates gorgeous shallow depth of field and really, really sharp focus. The last lens that I love is a 50-millimeter prime lens. That one is just a great all-purpose for food. It has another really low f-stop. It goes to 1.4, so it creates those luscious really dreamy type of images. So of all those three lenses, I think the macro is probably the one I use the most for food, the 100-millimeter. But between those three, that's what I use to create all my food stories for different magazines, cookbooks, etc. I love these lenses. It's really all you need. One other alternate though, if you want to invest in one great lens, is a 24 to 70 millimeter lens. This lens has some zoom on it, so it can get in really close but also get farther away, and it's a great all-purpose lens for shooting food. However, it's very heavy. So if you're shooting all day and traveling, it can be very cumbersome on your back, and it can just be kind of a big monster to bear. But it's a great lens. So if you're starting out and want to invest in one, that may be the one for you. Other things I like to have on the job that are essential are extra cards. So always shooting with two cards so that if one died, you will have some images left on the other card. That's always just a nice insurance. Extra batteries. I don't like to use the extra large body camera battery that you can buy because it, again, makes the whole setup heavier, and I'm really concerned with making light, and efficient, and minimal. So I like to just have extra batteries on hand and have them charged before a shoot. The next thing you'll definitely need, a hard drive. So they've gotten so cheap now, and it's essential when you're creating all these large photos, to store them somewhere. So you'll want to invest in any hard drive that you like, but create a flow to store all those images because it'll kill your computer if you're just putting them on the computer's hard drive. I love to bring a little tape in case I'm marking something. If I'm shooting at a restaurant, and I want to move the plates around, but then I need to get the chef to actually put the food on them, I will mark the spot so that I know where I'm at. Another thing I like to bring is a couple of extra beautiful pieces of flatware and napkins. So if I'm creating the story, I'm going to have planned all my props. But if I'm going somewhere, that's just something I have in my camera bag just in case their flatware is really ugly or the food just needs one extra thing. I will have thought of that and brought it nice neutral linen and flatware. I carry everything in this camera bag. This has served me very well and traveled all over the world. So put your camera in here, extra staff in here, and your laptop can slip in the back. I love this bag. Another thing I always like to have is a reflector. So this one pops out. It was about 60 bucks. It is quite large, and it has a white and a gold side. Both of those come into play. We'll get to that later. But a cheaper, sometimes easier solution, is this white piece of foam core. So this is five bucks from a drugstore, but it can add so much fill light to an image and just be easy to lean up against the table and use, and it's cheap. So, for your camera settings, you're going to want to determine, for your shot, whether you want that really shallow depth of field. In that case, you're going to want a low f-stop. So however low your camera and lens can go is where you're going to want to be. So my lenses go down to 1.4, but you might have one that goes to 2.8 or 4.5 is what a kit lens usually comes with. So, you'll want to be shooting down there to get that nice "foody" effect which is that dreamy soft look with one point of focus. If you want to do an overhead or some other type of shot where everything is in focus on the picture plane, you'll want to have your f-stop at a higher number. So about 5.6 and above. In that case, you may need a tripod to balance yourself out to have a lower shutter speed and create that type of effect. If you're shooting at 100 or 80 shutter speed, that can be fine to do handheld. But any lower than that, if you get into a 60th of a second or 50th or even lower, say you have a really dark day, you'll want to use a tripod because at those numbers, holding the camera is just going to give you a blurry photo, and no one wants a blurry photo. So look out for those things when you're creating your story, and have it in mind before you even start. Those things are going to give you the maximal effect and look for your picture. 4. Lighting: Hi, welcome back. Now, we're going to discuss lighting. So, lighting in photography is the absolute most important thing that you can be thinking of. You can have the most beautiful, spectacular scene that you've created an amazing recipe, but if there is no great light, then the whole picture, there's going to be kaput. So, it's really important to understand what good lighting looks like and how you can find it within your house. I wanted to just tell you about how I started, which is I was creating food at home, I was really excited making great dinners for my husband and I in Portland, Oregon, and then I would shoot it at night with the overhead light on in my kitchen, and I was just wondering why my photos looked so bad and dull and the lighting was so gross. I just was so curious, how do I get pictures like in the magazines that I love and I was just so confused about that and I did that, I mean, for a little longer than I'd like to admit. But then I shifted all of my cooking and my food photography to the day time and things just exponentially blew up and were so gorgeous that I thought, this is the key to my success, just shifting my day. So, if you have a job and you're working eight to five where there are no great daylight hours, shift your shoot days to your weekends or maybe in the summertime where you have those long, long nights and you can create beautiful images still at six or seven where there's still enough light to work with. So the most important thing is to shift your day and start with a successful format which is going to be using natural light. The second thing I wanted to talk about is how you can manipulate natural light. So, what you're looking for is a indirect light, so search around your house or apartment or even go outside and look for light that is coming in through a window but not completely harsh blazing sun. So, I live in California now, there's a lot of harsh blazing sunlight, if I'm trying to shoot food in that, there's going to be a lot of shadows and really hot, hot light which is going to be harder to create a beautiful natural food image. So, I used to live in Portland, Oregon where there was a lot of beautiful, white, foggy day light streaming through the windows and that was perfect for food images. So, depending on where you live, search around your house, it could be in a spot that is you're least likely to think of. I had a friend who shot beautiful food in her bathroom because it was a north-facing window, so it got beautiful indirect light and she created sets in there and you would never know that it was a bathroom, but it just had nice painterly light coming in through a window. So, determine what indirect light is. It's pretty simple, you just want to be in the shade or near a window, but not fully in that harsh blazing sun. Then from there, you can adjust things accordingly and it's pretty fun. Here we have a beautiful just natural light coming in from the side window here, so there's a little bit of shadow falling off on this side, but with adding a white reflector. You don't need a fancy reflector, you can just use a card, you can add fill light to take away some of those shadows. So, here, if I was shooting from this perspective, you would have a nice fill. Here it is without it, there's shadows. Here it is with some fill, some bounce, that'll give you a nice bright image. Then the opposite of that is adding some darks. So, here, I just have a piece of black fabric stretched over a piece of foam core, and now, we have more shadows, more dramatic lighting. So, bright light here and then falling into shadow. Here's it just natural. Very beautiful. Here it is, adding some dramatic dark tones. So, all you need is really some reflectors and some black fabric and you can really change the whole scene to your liking and to whatever effect that you want to convey with the lighting for your food image. 5. Props: Hi, now that you've had some time to figure out what to do for your food photography story and what recipes you may use, it's time to gather the right props. So, a prop is anything around food. So, it could be a table, napkins, spoons, forks, you name it. Wherever the food is going to live within your scene is what is called a prop. So, in this case, I've just got a smattering of things to show some different concepts. If you're going to use a napkin, you could use a modern kind of indigenous looking one like this or you could be using a really floral crazy patterned one. Now, these two things are going to communicate different messages to your viewer and highlight the food in a different way. They're both great, but you'll just want to make sure that they're on point with your message and how you want the food to feel. Do you want it to have a party scene or do you want it to make it feel more neutral and more food forward? Those are things to consider when you're determining props. Another example of this is, say, using a really modern glass like this versus a really old fashioned type of glass. Those things make a difference in the way that your viewers interpret the entire scene. So, be mindful. When you're gathering props, I usually start with what I love, so what I naturally am into or is a family heirloom, that I already find special. Those are great places to start. Lastly, you'll want to just keep in mind to be playful with your props. Little things can add so much to a scene. So, I have some old fashioned recipe cards here that my grandmother wrote out, which I would love to include in a story about her. Even we have a little figurine of my dog. So, say I was making dog biscuits for a food story, I might include the real dog veto, and then a little guy like this, and maybe his leash or some other accoutrements that signify doggy. You just want to be playful and keep things right when you're deciding what you should include and what you should take out. Whenever you've got it all dialed in, so your shot sort it out, If there's too much stuff, just take some staff away, edit as you go. This can be a great starting point, but there is a little natural give and take. So, I always like to have extras of everything available, ready for my shoot, but I may not use all of them. I may decide I'm making a salad, and that it looks way better with this neutral kind of linen, rather than a wild and crazy patterned type of tablecloth. But I may not know that in advance. So, gather your things, have many extras, have a variant of size, and you'll never know what you can create in the moment. I just want to add one tiny last thing. Think about props to scale. I love to use small things in photos. They can be easier to manipulate within your scenes. If you have a lot of large plates, that can be very difficult to get all the way behind, and to shoot, and be able to see the entire thing. Not to say that big, large platters and things are bad, they can have their place, but as a general rule of thumb, I like to use and gather a few smaller dishes that I might use in real life because they are easier to manipulate within a food photo story. So, that's what I thought all about props. 6. Preparation Images: Now, we are going to actually start shooting that beautiful food that you've created and the best place to start is with some preparation photos. I showed you a few examples of my work within my blog. So, that South Indian doll I chose as the lead image the prep photo because I had all these beautiful little ingredients. The lentils, the ginger, the spices, et cetera. That was such a stronger image to tell that story than my final dish which was a few balls of mushy looking soup. So, these can really steal the show of your whole food story, these preparation ingredient shot. So, buy extras of everything and include these before you even start. Get groovy with these natural ingredients. Okay, let's get started. So, here we have a beautiful setup of a little bit of messy and neat preparation shot of my salad that I'm going to make. So, I love the way this looks and I just wanted to present this to you and show you how beautiful the natural ingredients can be within a salad or any type of food. The raw ingredients are beautiful place to start. Now, I'm going to just do the opposite. So, I like the way this looks and now I'm going to make it a different type of shape and see how that looks. So, maybe move these here. Make the whole thing a little closer together and maybe a little bit even tidier. So, this is a very, maybe these will go away. This shows up in magazines a lot. Maybe something like this where these are more even and these should come together. This can be like this. These could even be in rows above. So, we made a messier shot a little more tidy just now by just changing a few of the shapes. I'm going to remove some of these pistachios just to keep things in scale. Maybe one or two can be cascading off the side, but there you go. There's just a slightly different way of approaching it and I think that looks really nice. Okay. Finally, let's do just an all out, totally wild and messy one. Let's get really creative here. Maybe let's open this up a little bit. Let's take one away. Let's add these. Let's get it just completely different. I love this type of shot. Maybe decrease the amounts. Add this in. It looks like it fell from the sky and use some of these cucumbers to really gather a different type of look altogether. I love this. This is definitely in my zone that I like to create. So, this has a different look. It just looks way more whimsical. Depending on what your tastes are, is going to be what determines how you're going to frame these types of shots, but I just want to show you as many options as possible. There's another great example of a beautiful prep shot. 7. Edit the plate: Okay. Now we're going to address another concept about editing the plate. So, this is a really critical piece in communicating the message of your food story. You can have an abundant plate of food, and that will signify family, traditions, et cetera. If you have a more spare plate, you can really, really focus on that food, and it can be less about the setting. That might be another option. So, you can remove some of the food from the dish and leave some behind. There's all different ways to do it, and each will kind of tell a different story within your series of images. So, be mindful of how you plate and have extras of everything again, while you're setting up your scene. So, now I'm going to show you what that looks like. So, now we're going to discuss the concept of editing the plates. So, we have this big beautiful platter of salad that we've made, and a few different plates to put it upon. What I really want to discuss here is how the props are adding to the scene. They're very neutral. It's not overly propped. It just is what it is, and that will help be one extra layer to push your food forward into the frame. So, we have a little bit of wine, some bread, and salad, but there's no extra accoutrements such as pompoms or cocktail umbrellas, and things that connote a fun happy thing. What we're showing here is a beautiful kind of ladies lunch. This is definitely a lunch I'd love to sit down to. So, this could be a great opening shot, just as is, and you could also do just a close-up of this. Notice I've spaced along the edge. A great thing that you can do is, whenever you're plating, is make sure to wipe off the edges before your shoot, and that'll give it a nice clean finished look, even if your whole dish is fairly messy and organic-looking as it is in this case. So, here we're going to start to build our first plate. Then, I left a lot of negative space here because that's going to really emphasize this plate of food. So, having a little bit of emptiness helps balance out the entire dish, and will draw the eye closer to the actual food. So, that's one option. Another option you can do is creating a fuller look, and you'll want to keep some things off camera to just add that extra little something, so it looks finished. I have some extra chives and pistachios which are ingredients in the food. So, here's another look that's just a bit more relaxed. It's a bit more about the entire scene now, because you have an entire plate of food, as well as the other dish. So, those are two different options. One other thing is you can just get a little wild and remember to plate many things. So, that's another choice to be made. I'm just going to set this scene. So, this person looks like they've already been eating. You can mess it up a little and give them a piece of bread, and maybe a couple of crumbs, and switch this. Dismantle your props so they're not quite so perfect. Now, we have a real-life, very convivial scene that looks very different from the one that we started with. So, here's just ideas on plating. You can have messy, you can leave negative space, you can have a full abundant look. This is a great option right here, is to shoot the dish with some of the food removed. Having some negative space in here is going to add another point of life and movement within your photos. So, there you have it. Just remember to edit the plate and create intention with how you're plating the food. 8. Back to Basics: Color & Shape: Okay. So, this is the most important concept of all, acknowledging that food is just shape, form, color, and texture just like any other art form, and you are in charge of creating this beautiful table and spread, and then the image. So, a painter starts with a blank canvas, so do you. You treat it like any other thing, like a collage, a painting, a drawing, and study all those other art forms because they can help inform how you approach your food scene and then your photography. If something isn't working, like a plate of food or a little dish of salt, you might want to take some of the salt out and create some texture there, you might want to move the dish in the scene or even take it out altogether, but the key to understand, is that you are the mastermind of this image. So, every little detail, from the lighting, the props, the food styling, the angle is totally up to you so you have to take charge and come up with something interesting. Within other forms of photography, like portraiture, interiors, or even travel, you have to make the best of what is available to you, which is just capturing things on the fly. There's not so much that you can do to fix a house or to change someone's face entirely. You, really, it's about adapting to what's there. But within food photography, what's so interesting and dynamic, and there's so much room for creativity for, is that you are the boss, totally and completely. So, there's a lot of pressure there, but there's a lot of fun. So, just make sure that you're wearing your bossy cap and creating some beautiful dynamic scenes, and if it's not working, shake things up. You got this. So now, here is the fun part, the plating and the composition. Here we have a blank slate. This is just a nice backdrop that we've painted with some plaster, and now I'm going to get started. So remember, you are the boss and the artist. I'm just going to get some plate down. Notice, they're all in the same type of scale, which can be great. You can also vary up the scale and change things. So, something that I'm looking for when I'm plating is relationships. So, this two color combo is so similar that I'm going to choose something different for that because you just want to keep your eye moving around this beautiful dessert scene, maybe I'll use this under here. So, I'm thinking about color, texture, line and shape, the basics. I've got everything in a similar kind of bright, happy color scheme going on. About some fresh fruit that might complement things. Do these little cookies go here? Add this, this one maybe down here because it's related to the strawberries. This pink one shouldn't go on this pink because it's too close, so maybe over here. What a nice beautiful lemon tart down there. These shouldn't go next to each other, so I'm going to change that. Few little Russian tea cakes on the side. Maybe just a nice chocolate bar here and I'm going to break it just to give it some texture and movement. Notice how I put the two chocolates at the opposite ends of the picture plane, and lemon bar could go with these little buddies over here. These cookies, I'm going to just have kind of off the plate as if we're just getting to them. So, some things can go on a plate, some things can go next to- you don't have to play by all the rules of actually eating. Experiment with shape, texture, and line. To really give this a convivial feel, I'm going to add a few party decorations, which I love sometimes. This definitely feels like a party, so why not. Maybe this one on this side. I almost forgot, this one beautiful dessert. Maybe we can add this one, just peeking in. We'll add a little this moment of delight down here. My God, looks incredible, and I'm going to try another chocolate dessert, maybe with the chocolate. Things can live next to each other, that develops a relationship, and a story in and of itself. I'm going to try this party item, just dancing across the picture frame. So, I have little shapes, big shapes, a lot of interest, maybe a little messiness off the side and maybe break that barrier so it looks like something's happened. Lastly, I think this whipped cream needs a little bit of love so why not put one strawberry there. So, we started from nothing and then we got to all this vivid color, shape, and movement. Now, I'm just going to make a few adjustments just so that there's some variance in texture. I might even break this cookie open, just that one little hint of life can add a lot to your picture plane, into your whole story. I'm going to just remove that, add a few crumbs. So, it's not too perfect, never like too perfect scene. There we are garnishing a tart. So now, I'm looking at the above picture plane, and I am going to make a few micro-adjustments to just fully dial it in the way I want it. So, right here, there is just a little too much space, so I'm going to move that, and I'm going to push this one in, bring this one in a little, and I may even break the picture plane altogether and bring this one down, and this one forward and remove one of these and push this in. That is looking really, pretty great. I feel like there needs to be one extra thing in this empty spot so we're just going to grab this one cookie and bring it in over here, and that is going to nicely fill out the picture plane, and there's some busy spots, there's some quiet spots, but it's definitely an all over, fun, party dessert scene, which I love. 9. Tidy vs Messy: Hi, so, this next concept that we're going to address within the food styling of your scene is shooting an imperfect and a perfect scene. So, once you have your shot all dialed in, your food is looking gorgeous, it's sumptuous, it's delicioso, you'll definitely want to grab that shot of it perfect. Then I would recommend doing the flip side and getting it a little more lived in, a little more active. To do that I would actually take some bites away. So, you can do that, or an assistant, or a friend who happens to be there, lucky eater, will want to eat some of that and leave some negative space on the plate. You can have messy forks, you could leave a few crumbs if you have them and that'll just give a really active lifestyle, kind of tell even more of the story of your food. So, you can always use it or not use it. You may love the perfect one, but it's great if you already have it all set up to get it a little messy, shake it up and maybe an even better photo will come out of it. The last thing I want to mention about that is an empty plate of food with maybe just one crumb, or just a little bit of sauce and a messy fork and an empty glass, that as if the wine had been drunk, can really communicate history and memory, a story of that meal in a way that a full style perfect plate of food just cannot. So, if you're already taking the trouble and making the effort to make these beautiful food seems, definitely get messy and leave some a little bit of skew and you may come up with your best photo yet. Now, we get to my other favorite part. Now that we've set up this amazing tableau, this party scene, we are going to deconstruct it and make it look totally lived in, active, juicy, yummy. This has way more of a story in a way then this whole scene does. We're going to do kind of an after shot. So, how I'm going to do that is just get totally wild, don't be afraid. I'm going to get rid of most of this whip cream, yum, and I'm going to make it as if we've eaten most of these berriers. It's one of my favorite parts, and really get it lived in there. So, you can smush around juice. The glasses need to have been drunk, you can even tip a little bit over and get your surface a little bit stained. These cookies have been eaten, yum, and I may need some help with this chocolate chip cookie. You want to take a bite there? Such a tough part of the job. So, homemade chocolate chip cookie with a bite taken out for sure. This beauty has got to go. I'm going to just take a bite myself, yum, I'll leave that remaining. Why not? We will just destroy it a bit. I love the wrapper and the way that can look. This one's going to be all the way gone. This one is just going to be crumbs. So, is this not every little kid's fantasy? It's just so much fun. We'll leave that, we'll leave that. We'll kind of leave a tinge of this. We'll destroy this cheesecake, yum. We'll leave the fork in there though. Looks awesome. This is maybe a little wrecked in the party, this is maybe just gone. This cookie, they're gone. This chocolate chip cupcake, only the wrapper will remain. That kind of signifies life. This guy's been eaten. These plates may have been stacked. Maybe this person only got halfway through, so there's just a little bit left. This guy's is this way. This is for sure gone. Let's see, a little fork is still in place over here. That can just be one other telltale sign that someone's enjoyed it as by jujing about the fork. The technical term jujing, and this guy, maybe he got moved, someone got extra wild down here. So, voila, there's a wild and crazy party that just occurred here and I love this scene to include within a food photo story, because it just adds so much life, character, story. It can be really fun, so have a ball, get your friends involved, taste lots of beautiful bites, and you're all set. 10. Garnish: Now, we're talking about garnishing the image. So, I often come to a point with food where I think it looks pretty good but I know it needs just a little something else. So, we're at that stage here and I noticed that there's pistachios in this plate of beautiful salad, so I'm going to add pistachios as a garnish. I might open up a few as if our diners are just snacking on them on the side, that'll give it a more real life active look plus I love pistachios, they are one of my favorites to eat myself. That one won't open. You got the point, just definitely adding a little life there. Then there's basil in it, so I'm going to take some basil leaves and just tear them and let them fall from the sky because that's how I learned how to plate food. It needs something small, so I'm going to just add a little bit more chives and I'm going to let them, oops, not go in the wine but definitely tumble into other areas. That's okay. We're all friends here. So, they can just break up the space a little bit and do the same thing with pistachios. So, it's easy to overdo this part. Be wary of not making everything totally, having tons of crumbs but this looks really nice. I'm really pleased with this. I'm going to add one more thing which is a little bit of Maldon salt because this is a meal that would be so complimented with a little bit of flake salt. I love flake salt in my food and for photos, so I'm just going to sprinkle out a little bit as well as just making it a little imperfect for the shot by dusting some off the dish. Lastly, I'm going to just activate the scene with a little bit of bread as if our eaters are enjoying this nice plate of food. So, those are some ways to garnish the image with just a little bit of extra ingredients in different sizes and shapes. So, think about that when you are setting your scene. Does it need one extra little thing and go from there. 11. Angles Overview: Now, we're going to address camera angles. So, for every food shoot, I always keep these four angles in mind. By shooting in these four different ways, you know you'll get to one good photo. So, it's a bit like an insurance policy. You've spent all this time creating beautiful food and a beautiful set, you definitely want to get it right. So, I always shoot overhead, which is from above, at a three-quarter angle, at a 90 degree kind of straight on angle and I also like to get really, really close sort of macro point of view. So, those are my camera angles that I always go to. Now, I'm going to grab my camera. 12. 3/4 Angle: Okay. Here, we have the three quarters point of view. This angle can be found a lot in commercial work, in advertising. Any commercial you've seen, usually uses this food angle. It really makes you want to dive into the plate of food. It makes things look really yummy, because it really is the same perspective that you have as an eater at the table, think about it. You're not overhead, you're not sideways. This is kind of a table top position. So, here we're focusing on the very bottom of the frame emphasizing those cookies and a little strawberry leftover from the cocktail. 13. 90 degree Angle: Okay. So, here we are shooting the straight on angle or sometimes called 90 degree angle. This is perfect for showcasing food that is tall and has volume. So, glasses full of things, bottles, you definitely want to use pedestals, think mountainous foods, so, a big pile of pasta would be great or big fruit bowl, anything that has height. If you're going to use lots of flat plates, this would not be the angle for you because you wouldn't really be able to see the food from this straight on style. In this case we are showcasing the cookies, so that's what I'm going to focus on, and leave everything else a little bit soft. I'm using my 100 millimeter lens which I love for food, it creates this nice dreamy effect where the focus is on the cookies, and everything else just kind of falls in a nice softness. 14. Macro Angle: Okay, now we are talking about the macro shot. This is just such a safe bet when all else has failed I inevitably got really close and it really forces you to look at the textures and the shapes of food and get minimal. So, we started with tons of stuff in the frame and now we're ending with just the most beautiful cookies of all, the little petite French macarons in all my favorite flavors and just a hint of the cocktail in the background and that's what we're going to leave it with. This will be a great addition to any food story as a really tight macro shot. 15. Overhead Angle: So, here we have the overhead angle. This is so popular right now in cookbooks, photo shoots for magazines. All over the place, you see this type of look. It's definitely one of my favorite go-to angles. You'll want to keep in mind shapes, and line, and texture just like you've been doing for everything else, but in this case, it's particularly important because you don't have any of that shallow depth of field to work with. You just have line, shape, and color. So, I like to try to keep everything to scale which means when I'm plating the food, I like the food to match up with the plate. So, I wouldn't try to put a tiny cookie on a giant platter without anything on it and vice versa. I wouldn't try to load up a plate full of pasta that's too small with no edge showing. So, that's it for overhead. Go out and have fun with it. 16. Troubleshooting: Now, we're talking about the good stuff. Not if you get in a jam but when you get in a jam, here are some things, some secret weapon information to get you through those tough times. So, with every shoot I do, inevitably, I do get in a little bit of a pickle sometimes, where my creativity is just not quite flowing through me. These are things that I keep in mind when that happens. So, the first thing is to add a little life to the scene. So, grab an assistant, a friend, a spouse, a kid, whomever you have around and they can just add that extra dimension to the food shot. So, you could have them taking a piece of pizza or pouring the cup of tea, they can just add a little life and humor into those food stories. The next thing you can do is just get really, really close. So, your food is beautiful of course, that you've styled and made to be exceptional, get in there, that's something that I do just to have in the back of my pocket. But, it may be really interesting to be in a more macro perspective than to be pulled out into a more full scene look. Another thing you can do is to, if you already have it messy, make it really neat. So, if you have a lived-in look with forks, and knives, and half bites taken out of a dish, something I like to do is totally flip the switch and make everything very organized. So, think of a type A personality and put that cap on, and rethink the shot in a very, very organized fashion. Conversely, if you've started in a really organized type A type of way, throw that identity out the window and get wild and messy and just try to get it as messy and juicy as you can. So, by thinking in those two different ways, you can really alter the shot. Another thing you can do is to add different linens or colors to the scene. So, if the piece of pie is just oozing with berry filling and you have a yellow napkin and something just doesn't feel right, maybe you want to swap that went out for a more Jewel like tone that compliments the food that's in it. It can be just as simple as that, just a quick fix that will elevate the whole scene and make it beautiful. The last thing is so important and it's what my photographer dad taught me, which is to just turnaround. So, you've created your scene, you've made it beautiful just turnaround, take some deep breaths, regroup and come back to it. The most interesting thing that could be happening may be going on behind you, and maybe it's just right there and you could shift your scene there or bring one element to that. But, it's important to keep open and to keep your eyeballs free and available for new inspiration even when you're in a shoot, especially when you're stuck and you're just feeling like it's not quite working and you don't know why. So, turnaround, take a deep breath, maybe even shift the scene over there, or maybe there's a friend back there that you could add to the whole food situation. So, those are my top tips in terms of shaking it up and getting it right when you're stuck. 17. Critique: Congratulations. You've made it through this entire class and now it's time to upload your assignment which is three to six images of your own food photo story. I cannot wait to see what you've made. It's really important at this stage to be really self-critical and edit hard. So, if you're feeling so-so about something, you'll want to not include that in your final uploaded photo story. You really, really want to be confident and happy with every picture that you put in. That's a really learned art form and it's taken me years to whittle down my best material and not want to show everything. So, you don't want to have 97 photos on your blog, it's way stronger to have four to six really great ones, those will speak volumes about your work and your point of view. Another thing I like to do is create notes and on compositional elements for the next time. So, every shoot can be improved, and I use this every time I go to work and that helps me create better work the following day. So, for example, we just shot that plate of pears in the various lighting forms. After looking at those images and digesting just that quick example, I realized it could've been so much better if I just slice one of those pears open and maybe had a couple of slices surrounding that cutting board. So, next time, I'm going to jot that down and say, "When I'm doing fruit, make sure to cut it open and show a little bit more life." It doesn't necessarily have to have the knife in the picture, it could just be a suggestive type of image to show the interior and create a little bit of interest within that plate of pears. When I'm editing to decide on those final three to six images, I like to really vary up the scale of the image. So, I want to include a really macro shot with a more wide shot of the entire plate of food. So, I suggest you come up with some system, and hopefully, you've thought about that before you even started, that you want to get multiple points of views, multiple angles. When you create your story, you think of that in mind and you create flow within the way the images are viewed. So, you'll want to have real macro with a more whole scene type of photo and maybe a three-quarters angle type of photo with another overhead with a hand pulling out a little dish of your beautiful dish that you've made. So, think of that when you're telling the story that you don't want to have repetition in shape and color and form over and over and over again. Think of a cookbook. How you open a page and there'll be a tight shot and then you'll move on to one that's a little bit different in scale and scope. So definitely keep those things in mind when you're editing and be really cutthroat and I'm sure what you're going to make is going to just blow my mind. So, I cannot wait to see. Do your homework, do good editing, and upload so that all of us peers can see what you've done. 18. Explore Photo Classes on Skillshare: