Aug 19, 2009


I like good food and I like to cook... so no wonder that I am also attracted to food photography! Already some time ago I got the opportunity to join two friends for an extensive 'real' food shoot. Chef Wim Mertens of the Antwerp restaurant 'Het Gerecht' invited us to add pictures of his latest creations to his website. We arrived on a day with no lunch service, so we had full access to his skills and attention for several hours.

This was my first hands-on experience with 'real' restaurant dishes, so I was in for a thorough learning experience (to say the least!). Each of the three photographers set up for a different lighting setup. On our main stage we used a large shooting table with a curved white background, two large softboxes and a ring flash. In the dining area we went for soft daylight with a little fill from a speedlight and a shoot-through umbrella. I went for a minimalist setup: a medium sized light tent, three SB-800 flash units and a collection of white, sliver and black cards to further sculpt the light.

We had great fun (photographically) making our way through the multiple course menu, from basic ingredients to polished plates. Little or no calories though: the food had been specially prepared for the shoot: for instance, fish was undercooked to show better its textures. New plates were brought in as needed while we fine-tuned composition and lighting.

This one above became my challenge of the day! The lady of the house, in charge of the dining room, was begging to make a shot of these colorful candy jars. Aah, all that glass...!

Lessons learned: make sure you have a good idea of the dishes you will photograph and prepare your setups as much as you can before you start: time will running extremely fast during the shoot! (and have something to eat in your bag, as it took us many hours of concentrated pleasure before we finally had a bite!).

Gear notes: D200, 17-55/2.8, 90/2.8 SP Di

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

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