I’m a self-trained food photographer and food stylist, I learnt everything that I know through practice and exercise. Leafing through my favourite food magazines and cookery books and browsing Social Media – especially Pinterest and Instagram – has been important to be exposed to different styles and voices. I managed to understand which was the style I aspired to and this helped me to make my own voice recognizable and unique.
I’ve improved my photography skills through the years, but I really began my journey of personal growth when I started working for an Italian weekly cookery magazine.
I cooked, styled and photographed the first assignment with juvenile baldness and the feedback I received was quite different from what I expected: I had to reshoot all the photos.
The most important lesson I have learnt in these months of trials is that practice makes you better.
Working at a steady rhythm for months for this magazine allowed me to improve the way I style and photograph food and, above all, helped me to figure out how to have consistent results.
First of all, it takes time to understand what a new customer expects from you, and the presumption of having everything clear from the first shot can create a misunderstanding.
Then, I really appreciated how time, practice, patience and constant exercise work magic.
Now I use the same method both when I have to shoot for an assignment and when I am just taking pictures for my blog, when I am the client.
I’ll guide you through a standard workflow, where I’m in the same time the photographer and the food stylist (besides the home economist who has cooked the food and the happy person who’s going to enjoy it after!).
My aim is to take the best photo that I can on set, as to reduce the time I spend post-producing.
Therefore, I find it easier to shoot tethered to my computer through Lightroom, so that I can immediately see the photo I have just taken and make the required minor adjustments.
I use a tripod, too. For my studio photography, I often use a Manfrotto 290 DUAL Alu 3 section tripod with 90° column, which allows me to shoot overhead photos, too.
Once I have decided my camera angle (is this food looking better from above with an overhead shot or shooting this from the eye level is more flattering?) and I have found the perfect framing, the tripod will help me to stay consistent throughout the workflow.
In this first example, I wanted to take a photo that could represent all the ingredients of this chocolate salame: eggs, cookies, butter, sugar, cocoa powder. Once I had decided that I wanted an overhead shot, I started adding the ingredients gradually, checking their relative position and adding some elements (the cookies) that could be slightly out of frame to suggest that a wider scene exists.
A dusting of cocoa powder made the scene more realistic, just pay attention to not exaggerate with the random ingredients scattered through the scene. My aim was still to have a clean ingredient shot.
This is another example of how a tripod can solve many problems: first I shot the scene on the right, then, seeing that it lacked some movement, I introduced a human element, my hands. This was possible as my camera was steady on the tripod, with the frame already set and the scene styled. I just needed to set the automatic shutter release to 10 seconds.
This is the final photo of the chocolate salame. If you want the recipe, you can find it on our blog, here!