Photographing Food: Chefs and Their Food

The Globe created a new feature in the G Food Section in which they showcase a chef and his or her creations. I like this better than just photographing the food since I will always be partial to photographing people rather than inanimate objects.

Here are a couple of recent examples.

  • The first one is chef Pedro Alarcon from La Casa de Pedro in Watertown and one of his delectable creations which he named “Faldas de Yayi” dish made out of skirt meat also known as skirt steak, Thai chili, cherry tomatoes, smoked salt, red onion and flour tortilla.
  • The second set is that of the owner and chef, Peter Liu and chef Lijun Liu, of the Sichuan Gourmet Restaurant in Sharon, MA. The dish shown is double-cooked and spiced pork.

Behind the Scenes:

These assignments are pretty straight forward. You are given a restaurant, a chef(s) and a couple of dishes to photograph. It is my responsibility to make every single photo as visually appealing and interesting as possible.

Tech Stuff:

The set up is pretty standard:

  • I use a mid-size square soft box with a Travel-lite Kit at about 45 degrees in front and to either side(s) of the subject(s) making sure that the light source is slightly above the subject’s head level; thus, creating classic Rembrandt lighting.
  • Equipment: 24-70mm 2.8 or 16-35mm, a 100mm 2.8 macro and for the food photos two to three strobe units on controlled by a camera-mounted remote.
  • Exposure: portraits 1/125th @11 ISO 250 for the two chefs and 1/10th @9.0 ISO 500. With the two chefs I wanted crisp contrast between the light and the shadows and fast fading as to emphasize the cool frosted glass design in which they were standing behind while being photographed. With the other (the single chef) I wanted to capture some of the ambiance of the place; thus, the lower speed.