View Full Version : Food photography gear advice

01-05-2015, 3:17pm
Hey everyone,

New here and not sure if this is in the correct place. I didn't really see any sub forums of gear talk that was relevant nor did I see anything relevant in help and advise. Feel free to move this question if it is indeed in the wrong location. I asked this question on another internet forum but I hope by posting here I will get more detailed and critical advice.

I want to get into taking some better than average food photos at live restaurants. I want to capture some high quality images while imposing as little as possible on others.

I currently have a Canon 6D, a few lens (24-70mm 2.8, 50mm 1.4, etc) and a Manfrotto 3pce Carbon fibre tripod with a pan/tilt head. When I shoot I will most likely be fairly close to the subject (around 50cm) so that I do not get in the way of wait staff and other patrons.

After a little reading it seems that adding light (as with all photography) is the best way to improve the shots in dark restaurants. I was thinking of having a single portable light source and employing a single white reflector to accomplish this.

This leads me to my first question. What light sauce would be the best in this situation. From my understand I really only have two options. Firstly, an external speedlight or secondly a small portable LED panel. I feel like the LED panel would clearly be the winner as the firing of the speedlight would be far more distracting to other diners.

1. Is this correct or can you think of some better alternatives?

2. What specific product or brands would you recommend?

3. Where do you purchase a white board reflector or do people generally build their own?

4. Can you think of a better lens to purchase for this situation?

5. Can you think of a better tripod(or head) type or model?

Thank you for your time in reading and responding to my post.

01-05-2015, 7:29pm
The issue with single light source food photography is that you get shadowing and also get glare where the light bounces off bright parts. The other issue with lighting food is that if you something like an LED panel, the light itself can reflect in the glossy plates, wine glasses etc and it doesn't look the best. What you need is more than one light source, firstly to eliminate shadows, and then you need to position these lights so that they do not cause harsh highlights and compliment the colours and structures of both the food and the setting. If you are going to use a reflector, remember that some colours used in restaurants may look harsh under a white reflector, or even worse with a silver or gold one. There is no one solution that will work in every situation.

My next question is, are you doing this for yourself or are you doing these photos on behalf of the restaurants? Cause if you are doing them for yourself and you took in lights etc, and I was another patron, I would be peeved off that my evening was being disrupted by you and if you are doing them for yourself, some restaurants will also not be happy. Now if you are doing them for the restaurant, do them when the restaurant is closed, that way you can move around, get the best lighting, you are not interfering with the operation of the restaurant and you will get better photos cause you can take your time. I have NEVER seen a professional photographer taking photos in a restaurant whilst the place is trading. These photos are all taken when it is closed and the food is cooked and plated for the sole purpose of being photographed.

Now my next bit of advice, you have joined us and chosen beginner as your experience level. Whatever the above, you need to do a damn lot of practice at home before you even venture into a restaurant to do this photography. You need to practice with different coloured dinner settings, different light (dark walls, white walls etc that restuarants might have). How do you deal with candelight on a table, using an LED panel will wash out the mood created by candles etc. So if you are a beginner, then you have a lot to learn about lighting, light in general and more to get great food photos.

01-05-2015, 10:10pm
perhaps you could post an example of one you've already taken. That way we can give advice in the form of constructive criticism (cc) rather than try and cover all eventualities in one post

02-05-2015, 10:52pm
You could have a look at the video off youtube as it popped up in my feed from one of the chef pages I follow


it might point you in the right direction, or answer some of your questions.

03-05-2015, 9:06am
As you have not been back to this site since you posted your thread, I do hope you take on board the advice both here and in your whirlpool thread (http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2401173).