Shooting Food/Restaurant & Costs

JMASTERJJMASTERJ Big grinsPosts: 39Registered Users Big grins

Hey guys!

  1. I have heard so much about how hard it is to shoot food, in a restaurant atmosphere, not studio. What are some of the top keys to make it look "good" and give that pro vibe with minimal equipment?

  2. If need be, what is the standard going rate for you pros who have good experience shooting food/restaurants so they have enough pics for a website and some offline marketing? I understand this can vary so please give a range if you feel more comfy with that, or send me a PM is need be, I just need some idea!

Thanks!

Comments

  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayPosts: 2,294Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 2, 2017

    @JMASTERJ said:
    1. I have heard so much about how hard it is to shoot food, in a restaurant atmosphere, not studio. What are some of the top keys to make it look "good" and give that pro vibe with minimal equipment?

    Shooting on location is tough. First you have multiple light sources to deal with. You may also have to deal with various people that aren't necessary (customers and those who are just wanting to watch).

    Then you have factors like the chef (if they are not the stylist) deciding things go one way and someone else wanting something different. The client (restaurant, magazine, pr firm, etc) may want things to look differently than the chef also.

    Another issue is space. Depending on the area, you may have issues with bringing in necessary lights or getting them the way you want.

    Now everyone who shoots food will say "use natural light" and that sounds great, except it rarely if ever works out that way on location. Windows on the wrong side of the building, rain, heavy clouds, all sorts of issues can go against you. Plus the mixed lighting inside the building.

    I prefer 1 light in a square softbox for food, 1 light in a strip box for drinks.

    Next problem you may encounter is the use of props (if the client wants them).

    The absolute key to any and all food photography is the stylist. There are way too many tricks to the trade to go into the details here, but if you don't have a stylist, hire one.

    @JMASTERJ said:
    2. If need be, what is the standard going rate for you pros who have good experience shooting food/restaurants so they have enough pics for a website and some offline marketing? I understand this can vary so please give a range if you feel more comfy with that, or send me a PM is need be, I just need some idea!

    This is so complex depending on the shoot. There isn't a one size fits all because there are so many different answers.

    Are you shooting at your studio or on location?
    Are you providing the chef or are they?
    Are you providing the food stylist or are they?
    Are you providing the prop stylist or are they?
    Do you need to rent equipment?
    Do you need extra assistants?

    There are about two dozen questions that go into a food photo shoot.

    99% of the time it is not an hourly rate because it always takes more time than anyone can guess. You bid the job. It could be a couple hundred dollars for a very, very small shoot with a couple of dishes, or it could run deep into five figures shooting over a week.

    Now I can tell you from many years of experience that it is expensive from a photographers perspective to get into food and beverages. The props alone will set you back more than the average photographer has in total gear.

    As an example, good fake ice is over $40 per cube. Yes you can rent it, but if you don't own enough, sooner or later you'll be explaining to a client about how your ice is stuck in some post office or on some delivery truck. You'll be lucky if you only lose the client.

    Insurance is also required (you'll need a rider) on every single location shoot you do.

    Better have multiple camera bodies. Water, beer, wine splashes get on your gear no matter how careful you think you are and no client is going to stand around listening to you whine about your ruined camera. Unpack the next one and keep shooting.

    The single best advice I can give you is to build a super tight team. Find the best stylist(s) that you can afford and make them your very best friend(s). They are not cheap, so bid your jobs wisely.

    Steve

    Website
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,724Super Moderators moderator

    I very much agree with what Steve said.

    To punctuate, lighting is a major component in food photography. Most restaurants will have problems with both mixed lighting, which Steve mentioned, and with light poisoning, mostly due to reflected and spilled light bouncing off of colored surfaces. Positioning of lights is another key issue.

    How good are you, JMASTERJ, at controlling light and reflections on food service items? You may be called upon to photograph scenes with shiny stuff, polished chrome, polished silver, polished brass, etc. Please show us your examples of just these items. Certainly you have already experimented in this area alone?

    If you cannot demonstrate prowess in the area of product photography, you should not consider food photography. Food photography is just a much harder category of product photography.

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayPosts: 2,294Registered Users Major grins

    @ziggy53 said:
    How good are you, JMASTERJ, at controlling light and reflections on food service items? You may be called upon to photograph scenes with shiny stuff, polished chrome, polished silver, polished brass, etc.

    Oh I forgot that part. The first time you are asked to shoot an espro press, you'll want to sell your camera and go do something else for a living.

    Please don't get me wrong, food and beverages are so much fun. I like it far more than jewelry (which we shoot a ton of), it is just time consuming to learn the ropes, and the prop shopping also takes up a ton of your time.

    It's not the most glamorous or exciting type of photography, but it is the best (in my opinion) for keeping busy. There is so much work out there for good product photographers. There are a lot of the bigger stores are now doing in house stuff which makes life nice in some ways, no beating the bushes for clients, if you choose to go that route.

    Steve

    Website
Sign In or Register to comment.