Venturing into the unknown

I may feel increasingly at ease with some types of photography, with my skills and understanding of the camera improving every time I go out to shoot. Mind you, it does not happen as often as I wish.

But what happens when you are confronted with part of the photography that you have never practised before? I feel like a beginner and it is frustrating. Lately, I am helping my wife with her book project, which involves taking a lot of food photos. In the process, I am discovering a completely new world, which requires a lot of new skills.

Good understanding of basic rules and how the light works helps a lot of course, but there is a long way between knowing and being able to make pleasing pictures. I am used to travel and photojournalistic photography (as described in the previous post), where I interpret an existing scene through the lens of my camera. In the food photography, on the other hand, I am forced to craft the scene myself in order to convey the intended mood. It is not easy for me.

First, I am discovering that having the actual food is a necessary but not sufficient element. Props (plates, background, cutlery, side food etc.) are a crucial component without which even technically correct photos will look bland and unappealing.

 Something is still missing

Something is still missing

 Much better now

Much better now

Secondly, it requires time! Lots of it. It's different from what I am accustomed to. You need to arrange, re-arrange, light it, frame it and finally shoot it. Hard work, but also very gratifying, if the final result is pleasing. It should also tell the story and make emotional connection with a viewer, as well explained by Andrew Scrivani, a NY-based food photographer.

Is it worth it? I would say yes, as every new challenge expands your skills and understanding of photography (or anything else really). It forces me to take more conceptual approach to shooting, instead of instinctive approach I usually take when traveling or on the street. I strongly recommend you force yourself out of your comfort zone and try new areas, just for fun.

So, do I love food photography? Not yet.