Food Photography Story
Updated: Jan 30, 2022
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. For a few years now, culinary photography has taken over all my sidelines. Other than my personal garden and cooking projects, I visited some local markets, orchards and farms to do self assignment shoots. This helped me to get experience “in the field” but also to learn where the produce come from. I do commission work now for local growers, vignerons and producers, and occasionally for related events and venues. I like many types of photography, but I’m definitely taking the direction of “terroir” storytelling, combining food and botanicals as a main interest.
Exploring "terroir" photography • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2017-20
I got into home cooking, gardening and preserving, and taught myself through books, magazines and online classes (and totally recommend Andrew Scrivani as a the best mentor in food photography!). I also learned by connecting and observing what people do in the region. 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, the whole backyard and patio are part of my studio. I started practicing still life with some flowers and produce I harvested in the backyard, and then styled my first plate shoots. 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 my food photos until upgraded to 5D Mark IV in 2021. 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 and prospect book(s), all these pics are fitting just right with stories or recipe layouts I create for it. It's meant to be I guess!
From the Snowy Valleys business photography project shoot • Photos © Matt Beaver 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 it's not to waste it. I love working with natural light and I barely use shaping gear. Prop styling is also very important in food photography. You have to select the right cookware to create a mood, composition and theme. I prefer using smaller surfaces (cutting boards, wood boxes, trays, etc.) rather than tables as I can move them around anywhere on a Lazy Susan turning tray to capture 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 as perishable props, 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 photography with a camera more rewarding and the result much finer. Food photography is an exciting artistic challenge, I love it. Plus I'm enjoying the delicious food with my hubbie (a lucky guy... but I have to use some post-it notes "don't eat yet" sometimes!) once the “hero” shots are accomplished!
Food compositions • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-2021
To visit my photography portfolio, go to bottleandbrushstudio.com/portfolio
To discuss a shoot project, find my contact here bottleandbrushstudio.com/contact
Another day in the garden studio • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020