Food Photography Story
How country life has changed my artistic interest for capturing the stories behind a plate.
Food photography is designed to make people hungry, to desire the ingredients, to get the idea of how a meal should turn out after cooking the recipe, but also be a form of visual storytelling. Looking at how cook books have evolved over the years, the greatest improvement is certainly the image presentation and the story behind the featured food. For visual people like myself, “we eat with our eyes first” and it is very hard not to do that. Today’s amazing food photography that is beyond being 'just a plate' is an art that requires many skills, including cooking, prop usage and styling. It was only a few years ago that I started buying recipe books and magazines: previously I was more of a rock music history and record collector… But that is almost the same thing in that I choose books that speak to me for their content, that I can learn something and be inspired by the images. For a few years now, photography has slowly become my favourite sideline. Other than my personal projects of landscape, fauna and gardens, I created a portfolio with orchards, vineyards and various farm photos. I did some commission work for some local producers and also worked for local events and markets. This helped me to get experience “in the field” but also the direction I am happy and comfortable to take. I like many types of photography subjects, but I’m definitely taking the direction of nature, food and “terroir” as a professional interest.
"Terroir" photography • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2017-20
I got into home cooking, gardening and preserving, and taught myself through books, magazines and the internet but also learned from family, friends and neighbours. I collected vintage props found in op shops or garage sales and created my home studio on a very low budget. The kitchen, the garden, the shed and whole backyard and patio has become a part of the studio. I started practicing still life with the garden flowers and the produce I harvested, and then started my first plate shoots not long after. My husband (the "film guy" but sometimes my co-photographer) and I share gear and I borrowed his Canon 5D Mark II (which is more than 15 years old now) and used it for most of my food photos presented here (but upgrading soon!) While not being so sure at that point how to name and present this blog, I was taking photos at home and around the area and was just drawn to the process. Every time something popped up from the garden or any beautiful produce found its way here, I had to grab the camera and capture it. Not only have I created a bank of images for my studio, now knowing my direction with Snowy Foodie as a blog and book, all these pics are fitting just right with stories or recipe layouts I create for it. It's meant to be I guess!
Food compositions • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-2021
Food is a great medium, and as we have to eat anyway, it’s quite a sustainable art! There is nothing wrong with playing with food for creativity, as long as you are not wasting it. I love working with natural light and I barely have to use any lamps. Prop styling is also very important in food photography. You have to select the right cookware to create a style, composition and theme. I prefer using smaller surfaces (cutting boards, wood boxes, canvas, etc.) rather than tables as I can move them around anywhere easily to find the best light. I can always find some good spots in the yard and use the grass, garden beds, shed walls, logs, baskets, chairs, or anything to make interesting compositions. Fresh herbs, flowers and produce, immediately at hand from the garden when needed, is a great advantage when having a productive backyard. Smartphones do great pictures easily and quick editing can be done with apps, but that all depends where you want to go with this. I find that understanding the basics of still photography with a reflex camera more rewarding and the result much finer. Food photography is a great artistic challenge, I love it. Plus I'm enjoying the delicious food with my hubbie (who is very lucky... I have to use some post-it notes "don't eat yet" sometimes!) once the “hero” shots are accomplished!
Another day in the garden studio • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020