Food Photography: Introduction to storytelling in food photography | Marte Marie Forsberg | Skillshare

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Food Photography: Introduction to storytelling in food photography

teacher avatar Marte Marie Forsberg, Author, Food and Lifestyle Photographer

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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.

      The Journey to Gather Ingredients


    • 3.

      Planning the Shot List


    • 4.

      Shooting at the Allotment


    • 5.

      Styling the Meal


    • 6.



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About This Class

Join Norwegian photographer Marte Marie Forsberg for a short introduction class on telling a visual story, and planning a small shoot.

You'll travel with Marte Marie to her English countryside cottage, pick up a few items at the market, and make your way to a friend's garden allotment to photograph the story of a rustic, everyday feast.

Throughout the lessons, Marte Marie touches on planning a shoot, styling, and photographing — with special consideration to telling a visual story, with emphasis on color, overview images, detail images, and curating a group of images together.

Beautifully shot, full of inspiration, and brimming with insights, this class is perfect for beginning and pro photographers alike. Whether you're shooting a food story for your blog, a magazine pitch, or for a client, you'll leave this class full of inspiration, and with a better understanding fo how to tell visual stories and setting up a small shoot.

It's a welcome reminder of small moments that are truly perfect.

Note: This class is demonstration-based, and the emphasis is on inspiring you to photograph a story of your own. For more technical classes on photography skills, be sure to explore all of Skillshare's photography classes.


Be sure to join Marte Marie's first class on Skillshare, Lifestyle Photography: Capturing Food, Flavors, Conversation, for more on light, composition, and visual storytelling!

Meet Your Teacher

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Marte Marie Forsberg

Author, Food and Lifestyle Photographer


Join my new online Photography course via the link below:

Marte Marie Forsberg is a self-taught food and lifestyle photographer from Norway living in a cottage in the English countryside.

Today Marte Marie works for food and lifestyle magazines around the world and has a varied list of clients in the food and fashion industries.

She regularly collaborates with brands on location, and in her charming little cottage studio in the English countryside that she now calls home.

She loves new assignments and work pushes her to dig deeper, to grow, and challenges her as an artist.


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1. Introduction: My name is Marte Marie Forsberg and I work as a visual storyteller, with a camera as my main tool, I tell stories around food and lifestyle. This class is all about storytelling and it's an introduction to setting up a photo shoot where we're going to tell the story of a feast. In our case, we're going to go to a garden and tell the story of a rustic garden lunch. But this introduction is how to set up the shoot, planning the shoot, briefing the crew, styling the table and capturing it all in a story that will come together in the end. Thinking about the color scheme, thinking about overview images, detail images and how to bring them all come together in a story that's either for your blog or it's a spec for a job you want, or it's a food story for a magazine. I hope that as I take you through this introduction class to setting up a photo shoot, that you'll take it as an inspiration. As we walk through town, we buy the last-minute props and ingredients that we need for the shoot, that you think about the people we pass, the architecture and may be it will inspire you from your backyard and you'll think about places and people that you want to photograph to include in your story, that is not just limited to how I tell it, that you just feel inspired to make it yours and create it in the way that you would like. In preparing to create these visual stories, I draw up on experiences of places I've been, people I've met, and flavors and textures, things I want to combine into telling this specific story of this garden lunch that we're going to do today. It could be I'm thinking about maybe the last place I was, which was in Venice, this Phoenician feast. I'm drawing upon elements that I maybe saw and tasted there and then bringing that into today's garden lunch. When I'm preparing these stories, I also think about which images and things go together when preparing for how I would like to set it up with a few overview shots, with a few detail shots. So to say, to set the setting of the place it's going to be photographed in, as opposed to telling a more intimate portrait of the people or the dish, whatever I choose to be the subject for the story to give more detailed shots of that and I will pair that up next to perhaps an overview shot of the allotment or Venice or of my backyard or of the city, or of the market. Keep all those things in mind as you're thinking about your story and how you want to create it. Let's just take a walk through town before we end up on the allotment where we going to shoot our garden lunch scene today. I'll pick up some last minute cider and vegetables for us too. At the allotment, we'll meet Heather who's our model for the day. 2. The Journey to Gather Ingredients: Let's just take a walk through town. Before we end up on the Latimore, we're going to shoot our garden lunch scene today. I'll pick up some last-minute cider and vegetables for our stew, and at the allotment, we'll meet Heather, who's our model for the day. I always love walking through this town and seeing the buildings, and the people, and they always most definitely inspire a shoot. I'm going to do what I'm doing, and here we are. Hello. How are you? [inaudible]. Just looking for some cider today. There you go. Yeah, I think I might have some of those, the two of the dry cider and two of the medium ones, and perhaps one in the vintage bottles as well. That should get us going for lunch. Is that vintage one from Shastri or from Dorset as well? That's from just outside Dorset. All right. These are from [inaudible] and that's a great farmer. He's a typical cider maker. He's a short guy with a beard gone to here. Is that a master cider maker? That will keep us happy. Very jolly lunch indeed. Bye. Cheers. Its market day in Shastri today. So it's perfect for picking up some local produce that are in season. Oh, this is so much good stuff. As you're walking through the market, it's always fun to look at these textures and think about what you're going to make and how going to photograph your story, and who can resist to in such beautiful local produce? There's so much inspiration to take from all the colors, and that's the fun things about shooting as well, is thinking about the colors of the food and how that's going to affect the overall story. Hi, there? Hello, how are you? Hello. Look at them. That is beautiful. Yeah, the savoy. Yeah. Are they all from your farm? Yeah, everything is from the farm. Where is that located? We grow in a village called [inaudible]. Very good. Two of those as well would be lovely. Yeah. Right. Thank you so much. How much do you want? That's a good one. Yeah, that's great. Thank you. Oh, perfect. Now that we've been to the market and we've got everything we need for the stew, or at least the last few bits that we needed, we're going to sit down on a bench and I'm going to talk you through the process before we actually approach the shoot, and planning what images to capture, where we want our model, where we want our introductory shot. Just plan it through so we know what to expect when we get down to the allotment just thinking photographing. 3. Planning the Shot List: Now that we have been at the market and got to produce, let's just sit down and talk a little bit about how to plan this photoshoot. I'll talk about it the way I normally do, whether it's a blog post, whether it's a spec or whether I'm working on a story for a magazine, I approach them fairly similar. In the end it's a visual story that we're telling about a subject that we've chosen. Today it's the lunch in the garden. I always thinking about planning the shots and what I'm looking for, to have a mental map of the images I'm going to capture. First I always thinking about, I need an introduction shot to the story. So I definitely have that in mind before I go in. In this case, I'm thinking I want Heather, who's our model today. I want her to walk into the distance in the garden with a tree to frame the shot with a bucket. In this case this might be good for the header on top or some text on it, but this will be the photograph that hopefully will tell the story, the introductory image to the story. Then I think about the importance of putting it into place and having an overview shot to tell, this in Shaftesbury, this is in England, this isn't just any backyard. I think that's important when you tell stories that you tell where it's from. Those who photograph a dish is not just in any kitchen or in any place, it's in your kitchen. What sets that apart? What's your story? The story of that place. I definitely want to include an overview shot to say this is in Shaftesbury, that's where the allotment is. Then I think about the detail shots I want, maybe a clause of Heather's hands as she is digging in the dirt or as she's coming out having made the stew holding it, still warm and bubbling in her hands, coming out from the little shed, where she's been making it in. That's definitely a shot I want to take as well. I make these mental notes of where the shots that I'm planning on taking. Because when you get there of course magic is going to happen and you might find other shots that you have to take and you really want. That's alright in the end you might end up choosing one of those shots for your story. But it's good to go in to the photo shoot with a bit of a plan. So that your mind knows what to look for and you know what to photograph. I'm thinking about the introduction shot, we talked about the overview shot to put it in a place, and then a bit of detailed shots. Since we're doing between 3-5 images to tell this story. I definitely want to have at least two that tells the story of the finished dish. So I'll be styling the table setting with that on it and then one more image of the food. Out of those five images two are definitely about the table setting and the food that we're going to eat for the lunch. So all of those things are ideas that I have in the back of my mind as I'm approaching the scene and begin photographing. 4. Shooting at the Allotment: We finally made it to the allotment where the second part of the story is going to take place. Here is Heather. Hello. Hello. Whose going to be our model for today. We've shot going up through the market. We've picked up our produce and vegetables and Heather is going to supply us with the remaining vegetables we need to make the stew, which is obviously a very big part of our story of this garden lunch that we're going photograph. You think we have enough for the stew? I think we can dig up something. Yeah. Good. Yes. You've got to re-dig, but I think we've got something in there. Yeah. It's nice using seasonal produce. Definitely from your own garden, and also from the market. Nothing like that. Tastes better, don't you think? Yes I think that ties in beautifully to the story of the finished products on the table. Having a table setting with a stew, but also having Heather digging in her garden, photographing her in that setting. That will tie in beautifully in the end to tell that story of that garden lunch, so you get all these steps and all these images that we talked about earlier on how to put them next to each other into a finished product. It is perfect that we can be here in your allotment. I have some ideas of where to photograph you. I thought we're going go a little bit that back down this way to a tree I found where I want to have you with buckets, one bucket preferably. I have a bucket. Some of the tools you have in the shed. Yes. I want to shoot you from behind and then also from the front, just to see which one fits best with the story. I'm thinking that to be the introduction shot for the story. Okay. Definitely want you in the doorway. That's the doorway. I think that'll be a beautiful frame and looking into the shed will be like a darker bit. So it'll be a nice frame for you and the bubbly stew. Okay. Then I definitely want to do some close-up, maybe of your hands as you dig about. Lovely. I think we should just get to it. I think so. Don't you think? Yeah. Yeah right. Let's cheers. Let's cheers and then getting down and dirty. Lets get down and dirty. What I'm thinking, Heather is, I want you to back up a bit and almost just come walking towards me in the middle of the path. Yeah. Perfect. That's pretty brilliant. That's actually something that's quite good to do when you're photographing, that you go through and look at what you captured because maybe you say, "Oh God, I got the shot", but then if you look up close and go and zoom in, the subject has their eyes closed or something is out of the way. I'm thinking about the introduction shot that I want to be with the headline on top and the introduction to the allotment shot. That's what I'm looking for. That you're in the center and there's loads of space around to add text in. Also in addition to leaving a lot of space around, I just wanted to give people a sense of place where it's at, to show a little bit more of the allotment scene. We might actually catch one of the thatched cottages in the background. That's nice. Do you think it will be nice? Yeah. So that it's shafts bring not just any allotment. Yes. All right. So let's start digging. That's perfect. This is a great chance of getting details well. If you want to start to shoot from above and down and get some of the vegetables from above and include in your story. We talked about earlier that capturing detail and I really love the bucket and the way the light actually shines and write the bucket and the weed in it and to garden gloves. That was a little nice details to try to capture. To sprinkle in to tell the story. But that it's just very muted. All the colors go really well together and it's very soothing to look at. I'm going to shoot Heather now in the doorway, like we talked about earlier. I want the doorway to be the frame, and I love the way she has positioned herself. As you can see, if I just stand like this as opposed to this effort twist my body a little bit, there's a curve happening and that's always a little bit more interesting is like styling. When you have textures and layers, you want the positioning of people to have something going on. There's movement in it and I think there's lovely movement in that. The way the light is right now is, I just want her to have light on her face. I want it to be light mostly on her hands. But the rest of the shed is actually just a dark abyss. That too will be framing. I love that. Little bit of a smile. Perfect. Having fun on shoot, I think is on the shoot. I think you can see it in the story, and I think everyone just enjoys the whole time a lot more. Both the styling and when reading the story and seeing the story in print or in your blog, I think you can tell if you had a good time when you were doing it. That's what it's all about really. 5. Styling the Meal: I've chosen this old bundle to be the background. Basically, because we're in a garden and I just wanted to be rustic all the way through. I am mindful of the fact that the light is coming from there even though it's quite dim and today it's like a giant soft box. So as we start along, I might bring out the black card to maybe manipulate light a little bit, make it a little bit more interesting. So I've gathered a few props and there's loads more in the shed as well. But I think what to be mindful of, and of course, this is after your taste, you might feel it, this is a perfect backdrop for the bread you're going to have. But for me it feels a little bit bright compared to all the other things I'm going to have in the shot, so I might take that out. When you're thinking or when you're styling this, think about size. Is this going to be better because you don't want to equally round sizes next to each other. It's quite destructive. You have to sort of filter in or think about sizing. In terms of the color palette for this, I'm keeping it all fairly muted, there's no flashy color scheme going on. This is just because I wanted it to be rustic. I know we're going to shoot in a garden, so all the earthy colors, I want that to come through. So even the bread I've chosen to be quite rustic and also don't want to fill all the glasses full. You wanna think about like someone's had a sip of it. So some of them you might want fuller than others. Food is all about looking like you're about to dive in and enjoy yourself. That's at least what it is for me. Of course, all your food stories, they're different because there's a personal twist all of them, but this is how I see food. Ready to just dive in, and tear apart, and slapped down, and slather on. So I guess my styling will convey the same enjoyment around food. I decided to just get in there and tear up the bread. This is a rustic food scene, and I'm imagining being hungry from having been out the allotment all day. I always travel in photograph with very light gear equipment. I only have my one camera and my iPhone and I don't really use reflectors. A lot of people find that adding a bit of bounce, a little bit of fill light, I rarely use that. I use the other side. This is just a cardboard. You get it at any art supply. Since we're outside and we talked about the fact that the lighting today is like a giant soft box,I'd like to create some shadows, I'd like to continue working with texture. In order for the texture to come alive, I need to control the light. If I added from above, it will enhance the light that's coming from the side, which will cast, in this case, minor shadows. I always go in with my camera or my iPhone. It's one way of seeing how the scene works or how it doesn't work. It's hard sometimes to see when you put a setting up like this, whether it actually is telling a story or what do you need to put a few things in there. You have this whole scene right here, but you also have individual little scenes. Like here's a scene so you can start cropping. I'm looking for the story because to me, just shooting it all from here. I'm wiggling on my [inaudible] Just feels like there's just so many things going on and that might be good, but there's also these little individual stories and that's where I'm kind of looking for. Once you've got a few shots that you're happy with, I think it's a must to start playing. 6. Closing: Now you've seen us do gathering the produce, looking at the props. We worked with Heather in the garden. We tried to tell the story of this wonderful feast we're about to enjoy. Thanks Heather. This is just of course one way of telling a story, but now we're really looking forward to seeing how you will tell your story in between 3-5 shots. It could be of a dish, it could be of a place, of a person, just say the one you want to tell a story of a feast or a little garden lunch in your own backyard. Thinking of introduction shot, thinking of some details, thinking of setting the scene and giving it a sense of place. I really look forward to seeing your a little story of a feast. All that's left is now talking you with a bit of stew and a bit of cider. How about the Heather? I thinks that's sounds like the best idea. There we go. Cheers. Cheers. I just fill glass and go and take chin-chin. Chin-chin. [inaudible]