Do you know that feel of walking into a Sydney establishment entirely void of #sydneyfoodtrends? I don’t. Until I was commissioned to shoot a leisurely brunch at Foley Lane in Darlinghurst to coincide with their new morning offerings.
I’m not here to write a review on the establishment (just between you and me though the food was excellent), I was asked to capture some brunchy vibes on a Sunday morning so I set up shop (tripod) by the window, dropped the bokeh and once again became both enthralled and frustrated by what was happening in my camera.
DISCLAIMER: I am an idiot. A big, ridiculous idiot. As such I write little posts and draw little things to reinforce what I’ve learnt that day to aid my goldfish-like memory. The last thing I want to exude are wanker vibes (because I bloody hate self-righteous photographers) so if I sound like a horrible person, do let me know, otherwise these are notes for myself which I feel may be helpful to others rocking a camera within the Sydney food scene. MWA MWA and thank you.
When I first started taking food photos I used to do a lot of stupid things. I’d google map the venue the night before in a panic to check if any trees were obscuring the moneyshot out the front. I’d look up reviews to get a feel of the space then panic if the room was too small, too big, too wide or too narrow. I’d panic if there weren’t any spare tables to take a food shot. I’d panic about insufficient light so would place food as close to windows as possible. But here’s the most idiotic of all my amateur habits; I would panic about not having enough photos, or not looking busy enough, and would take the same photo of the same plate at the same angle at least 6 times. This is dumb for a couple of reasons; 1) only an fool does the same thing twice and expects a different result, and 2) spinning the plate around or moving a step the the left to mix it up a little can completely change the photo. It pays to stop and re-evaluate and for real pondering over a plate of pickled mushrooms with a camera in hand makes you look legitimately professional.
Light sources are many and varied and chances are you’ll be confronted by a number of different ones at your table. The Foley Lane challenge was to find the correct balance since I was shooting beside windows. On top of this I had the added annoyance of an indecisive sunny/overcast day, a major pain in the arse, so plates and settings were constantly being adjusted whenever an obnoxious cloud glided by the sun. Another challenge is that many of these plates were smattered with white food; ricotta of doom, mozzarella of death. White foods are hard to shoot. Do not get me started. They are testament to the fact shooting at the same angle with the sun does nothing to flatter said dish (this is just a personal philosophy here) so shoot at an angle to score some sweet shadows for definition. Here’s an example of how shuffling things around and ever so slightly changing your angle can make for a much better photo; all I did was swap the mushrooms and fried green tomatoes, moved a coffee and crouched a little lower.
But the most important thing is to keep calm and carry on (and don’t take the same photo 6 times). You can’t go wrong with background greenery. Be alert but not alarmed when white food is involved. Blurred hands and cutlery give that ~rustic, human touch~ if you’re into that sort of thing. Take photos of all the dogs. There might just be an enormous Bloody Mary waiting for you when you’re finished.