Food Photography Challenge

New challenges….that’s something that we should never shy away from. This semester I embarked on such a challenge when I was asked to be the photographer in the newly revamped course, “Food Styling, Photography & Writing” in the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at the University of Technology, Jamaica. I say this was a challenge because most of my time as a photographer over the past 20 years has been spent as a photojournalist, with not much time spent in the studio. So to say that I was a bit rusty is an understatement. However I took on the challenge because, as all teachers know, you never stop learning. In fact, if you believe that you have stopped learning, you might as well stop teaching.

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So what did this challenge entail? First of all, let me give you an overview of the course. The main lecturer was Chef Leroy Myers. I have no idea how his food tastes, but he is a very skilled food stylist. He was also able to teach the students how to creatively arrange a variety of dishes, under the themes of eggs, fruits, sandwiches, meat, ice-cream and beverages.

My task was to light and shoot the subjects arranged by the students. The shooting was easy (I so love my Nikon D800E!). The lighting…not so much. At least not during the first shoot. Why? Space. I shot in two main areas – a classroom where the students also used to prepare the dishes, and an outdoor atrium. Both had their unique challenges. For the indoor shoots, I ideally would like to have at least six feet between the table and the two lights and umbrellas that I had set up.  This was not possible, so the first set of photos had distracting shadows that I was not happy with. Fortunately the ceiling was white. So within the space, I bounced the two Smith-Victor lights off the ceiling and violà, I had created a soft-box. The outdoor shooting was easier. It was done in the morning when there was still shade in the atrium which provided soft lighting. Here I used the Nikon Speedlights wirelessly, the SB-910 as the main light and the SB-800 to fill-in when required.  Here are the best shots.

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