Food for thought

On October 14, 2010 by Simon Fleming

The other day I got asked a favour by the owner of the cafe in the shopping centre where I operate my photographic store. He just wanted some basic shots of some new dishes they were going to put on the menu, so they could put them on display in their window to entice customers in. No problem. I have never really photographed food, and don’t consider myself a food photographer, but hey – I don’t generally pass up a challenge or an opportunity to make some nice images. I thought I would have a little warning and some time to prepare the shooting environment etc. Instead, a couple days later, with me on my own in the shop (my business partner on holidays), a freshly made breakfast dish arrives in store with a request to “do your best please”. Okey dokey. I sent the waitress back to the cafe to bring back one of their tables along with some salt & pepper shakers and other items you would typically find on a cafe table.


There were three separate dishes to photograph. I arranged them as close as I could to receive the light from our main light we use for passport & ID images (small flash firing into a silver umbrella), and then hand held a difussed SB-900 I had in my bag (luckily) off to the side to add some light fill. Bearing in mind this is all set up in an area about 1metre x 2 metres as there is nowhere else to set up, there are customers coming in whilst this is taking place (retail store), and this food looks & smells really good and I’m starving. All were shot within a bout a ten minute window. Everything went surprisingly well considering. Customers who came in whilst this was taking place, and hadn’t had lunch, I suspect may have been lured to the cafe upon leaving by the lingering aromas in the shop. As another surprise too, I got to keep and eat the last dish – pancakes with ice cream & berries – yum.

I still wouldn’t consider myself a food photographer but I’m happy with the results, especially under the circumstances – as is the cafe owner. I’m now slotted in to do some more work for him – with a bit more lead time next time around.

the prints on display in cafe window

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *