Food Photography

August 29, 2012

I’ve announced on Twitter and Facebook some recent news, I figured I might as well mention it here as well.  I’ve been asked to shoot a cookbook written by Ruth Tobias, known locally as Denveater.  It’s a compilation book of some of the best chefs and their recipes in the Denver/Boulder area. As part of a series, these hardbound books are beautiful.  I’m excited to see the chefs, some who are friends, some I’ve never met, and especially see their food.  As a dad, I don’t get out nearly as much as I used to.

I’ll be filling this page with some of the shots for the book, I need to have this project completed by December so I’ll have no excuses for not getting enough camera time for the rest of the year!!

August 28, 2012

My ‘Pin of the Week’  This is also the board cover for my ‘food photography’ board.  I love high-key photos, I love the negative space and how it makes the colors pop, this is a perfect example to me.

 

Source: MonaPixel on 500px.com via Christopher on Pinterest

 

April 23, 2012

Have you ever sold one of your photos?  There is nothing like it for a novice or part timer, is there.  Especially a random photo you took for a blog post or friend or just because.  A few years ago, while doing some consulting for a local restaurant group, we were creating some Italian themed dishes to try and upgrade the menu.  It was summer and halibut was in season and the price was pretty good.  Halibut, as an eating fish, is a no brainer, EVERYONE loves halibut.  Especially fresh halibut, it’s light, flaky, clean and works well with so many flavor profiles.  What I had come up with was a Pan Seared Halibut with Heirloom Tomato, Red Onion and Ricotta Salata Salad and Basil Vinaigrette.  The dish was fabulous, I took it outside in back of the restaurant in a bright but shady spot and fired off a few photos.

I liked the photos, included one in my portfolio and promptly forgot about it.  Fast Forward two years later to last month.  I get a call from a local seafood company wanting to know if I had any stock images of halibut for a promotion with Kroger Markets here in Colorado (King Soopers & City Market).  Sure, I sent them a few versions.  They liked it, we agreed on a price and I fired off a contract.  That photo became…

Taken with my iPhone.

This poster was placed in every King Soopers and City Market in the state, I believe.  I’ve had friends send pictures from their local store of the poster.  I guess the point of this is…make sure you are cataloging and organizing your photos, even photos you haven’t looked at in years, into a system that will help you find them quickly should you ever get a call, all it took was happening upon my website to put things in motion and it went quick from there.  You need to be able to locate any and all of your photos and keywording and and a solid workflow will help achieve a library that is easy to navigate when someone with a marketing budget comes calling.

April 22, 2012

I haven’t been keeping this page on my site up to date as much as I’d like.  I do have a fair amount of things to share but I get so hung up sometimes with the recipes, I generally forget about the ‘camera’ aspect of my site.  I plan on having several new photography related posts in the coming weeks.  I was reminded of this page when I heard about Matt Armendariz and Adam Pearson (2 of my twitter crushes) hosting a Food Photography and Styling Workshop in Stockholm, Sweden July 6th-8th.  I’m planning a trip to Germany this summer and if I’m able to make it happen on those dates, you can bet I’ll be there.

In 2010 I attended a workshop here in Colorado hosted by Helene Dujardin, Jenny Yuie and Diane Cu.  Since I had gotten into photography later in life, going back to school was not an option to learn more about what had become very important to me.  These short, relatively inexpensive workshops were the best way to learn from professionals working in the field, and you can’t beat the student to instructor ratio.  I want to attend a couple more workshops this year, I’m hoping one will be in Stockholm.

If you’re serious about learning (and need a European vacation to one of the most amazing food cities in the world) then workshops like this may be a good option, I’ve found there is only so much you can learn on your own.  If you can’t make this one, keep an eye out on Twitter and Facebook for upcoming workshops, they definitely will make an impact on your photography!

 

September 17, 2011

Is it me or does summer just seem to fly by? I always have more plans than time during the summer, some stuff I get to, some things get put off and some appear out of nowhere. Back in July, Olav Peterson, a friend and chef/owner of Bittersweet, Denver’s current best restaurant, asked me to shoot some of his summer menu. I’ve shot for Olav before, it’s always a treat as I get to chow on the items once we finished with each dish. The plates are paced just perfectly enough to give me time to do both tripod shots and a few handheld.

The restaurant itself is all windows so the natural light is amazing. The kind of place where you could easily hold a workshop with several food bloggers. Unlike before, where I had used the restaurant as the background for the food, I wanted this to be cleaner and focus on nothing but the food.

I put together a collage of a couple of shots of each dish, looking forward to Olav’s fall menu and the chance to get back into Bittersweet with the camera and perhaps dinner!!

January 9th, 2011

Just wanted to take some time to look back on 2010.  Professionally, it was a difficult year, yes I’ll be receiving 3 separate W-2′s, but I think I ended up in a place that will be a good fit for me.  We also welcomed our 2nd last February, she’s ‘cool beans’, as we used to say.   But I wanted to focus more on the food photography, this being the ‘Food Photography’ page and all.

Earlier this year, Somewhere in April, my site experienced a horrific crash.  The goals I had set for 2010 were wiped out and I didn’t have a backup, boo me.  After a host change and a buttload of copying & pasting, the site was back.  This time, I had a more clear vision for the site, so maybe crashing was a blessing in disguise.

Among my modest goals this year was to be involved in a professional shoot.  I had the fortune of being involved in several shoots and I’m currently involved in another, although we’ll see what the publisher thinks before I call it an actual shoot.

The first was for a tortilla company, you can read more about that in the post below this.  I wasn’t unhappy with the way it came out, but I thought I could have done more if they let me.  I’ve decided in the future to shoot what they want and see if I can squeeze in a few shots on my own, maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t.

Then I received a call from a friend who wanted some help with a food shoot.  What came out of that was beyond my expectations, you can see the final NSFW (PG-13) shot here.

In October I was asked to shoot menu items for a new chef taking over a Opus Restaurant just outside of Denver.  His plates were beautiful, I hope I was able to capture the essence of his food.  Here is a couple of shots from that shoot.

I also shot food for my fried Olav Peterson who finally opened his own restaurant this year.  This was his Salmon Pastrami.  I’m looking forward to shooting Olav’s menu at his new place.

I was also asked to shoot a couple of events for the Denver Five, a collection of extremely talented chefs doing their part for charity and helping to promote a vibrant and growing food scene here in Denver.  I had wanted to do a live, nothing staged shoot.  This was one of my faves from that day in April shot in the kitchen at TAG…

Currently, I’m shooting an ice cream cookbook for a new company that is planning a big promotion this summer and wants to have a companion print piece.  It’s extremely challenging but also alot of fun.  I don’t have many images complete yet but here is one of the faves so far…

As much as I wanted to shoot for and work on my own site avec recipes, this was made very difficult by adding another mouth to feed.  It’s tough to take over the kitchen for a solid four hours without interruption, I’m hoping it will be easier this year.

Finally, I’d like to share my favorite and/or best photo of 2011. In June I attended a food photography workshop in Boulder.  We had some fabulous instructors and the hands on was invaluable for me.  This was a shot I did, taking everything I had learned in that workshop, for my own site.

I’m hoping to progress in 2011.  I know that practice makes perfect and this year will be a challenge considering I am opening a brand new restaurant in 6 weeks time.  To be fair to my family and employers, I will have to put the restaurant ahead of my personal projects, but hopefully I will find the time to grow as a creative and a photographer.

Happy New Year!

August 6th, 2010

The first image that ran in the October 2010 Food Network Magazine.One of my photography goals for 2010 was to be involved in a professional shoot, as a water boy, reflector holder, or even as a chef getting my food shot by a pro.  Little did I think I would be asked to shoot food for someone based on the images on my website.  It is quite a rewarding feeling.

To be completely honest, a woman from an ad agency here in CO asked a friend of mine if he new any food photographers.  He gave her my website and then sent me an email, didn’t want anyone thinking I came up anywhere in the first 10 pages of any google searches for ‘food photographer’, because I don’t.  I put a bid together with help from Helene DuJardin who also goes by SweetTartelette on Twitter.

I honestly didn’t expect to get the job but I did, for whatever reason, they asked me to shoot 6 dishes that would be featured in web advertising for TortillaLand and also included with the recipes to be featured in 3 months of Food Network magazine.  When they said ‘yes’, I was excited, nervous, scared and proud, all at the same time.  I had never done, or seen for that matter, how this was done, but I figured I would just go about it the way I did the photos for my site.

We shot on a Wednesday.  We were pressed for time because we were shooting at the restaurant of the chef who created the 6 recipes.  There was a large party downstairs and dinner service was only a few hours away.  Not to mention the chef, who had wanted to get out and go see his family, I can’t blame him.  I picked a spot in the restaurant close to a large window, set up a diffuser on the window, set a wireless speedlight at 8 o’clock and a bounce card at 3 o’clock.  I took several practice photos to adjust settings and then waited.

One of the biggest lessons I learned about shooting for clients is don’t get to0 fancy.  I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t shooting for my site.  The photos were supposed to be selling tortillas, therefore the photos had to make the tortillas look fabulous.  Of course the recipes were important, but the tortillas were the star.

The first plate came out about 3:30.  Mike and I played with lighting, settings, linens, and props until he felt they had the look they were going for, extremely simple.  It took an hour and several re-plates to get this first photo…

With 5 more photos to go, I could see the chef pulling his hair out thinking we would be there all night.  But now that we had the look we were going for, it moved fairly well from there.

Personally, I would have done a little more with props, but that wasn’t my call to make.  I did manage to get them to use the tiles I brought that the plate was sitting on.  They also liked the idea of using the linens which they hadn’t thought of before.  This particular linen was part of the schwag bag I had received at the Food and Light workshop in Boulder earlier this summer.

It took us about 2 hours to finish the final 5 plates.  All in all I was happy with the photos and happy that the client was happy with the photos.  Tortillas are a tough thing to shoot, they are brown and flat, making them appealing was difficult.  There was one particular shot I wasn’t happy with but the recipe called for flour tortillas.

It just came out looking more like a pile than anything else.  But you can see the filling and the Fresno chile helps draw the attention away a little bit which I didn’t think was such a bad thing for this photo.

I have to say, it was a phenomenal experience and I was completely thrilled to have been chosen and allowed to do the work.  The knowledge I garnered in those 4 hours was indispensable and will definitely help me should I find myself in a similar situation, which I hope there will be many, many similar situations.

May 5th, 2010

Food photography is still relatively new to me, at least the commercial/artistic kind.  I’m lucky enough to have a professional cooking background so I understand very well how food performs.  I am also lucky enough to have chefs as friends who like my photos enough to let me shoot their menus.  In the last year I’ve found that some dishes are easier to shoot than others.  They have a definite ‘presentation’ side, they have focal points and are designed to be pleasing to the eye.  I feel that my job is to try and capture that initial impression of a dish through a photograph.  I want you to see that dish and react to it as if it had just been placed before you.

How do you handle a dish that has no discernible focal point such as a simple salad?  Through framing and composition, as in the photo below…

You can easily see the photo is a salad.  But getting in tight to highlight the garnish or ingredients of such a simple dish creates something to focus on.  I think, generally, a photo of a plate of salad greens can be too busy, to much going on and nothing to attract the eye.  By only showing a small part of the salad, you are creating something that is visually interesting.

Originally Posted December 29th, 2009

There were many ups and downs for me in 2009, both personally and professionally, but 2009 will most be remembered by me as the year I fell in love with photography. Not just food photography, although that is where I think I find the most pleasure and also the most comfort. I’ve been working with food professionally for 25 years and the marriage of both is opening up a whole new creative outlet for me.

But shooting food only can be limiting. I’m discovering that I like taking my camera out with me when I go out shopping, the post office or anywhere. Just on the chance I’ll find something worth shooting. That’s why I’m starting a ‘Photo of the Day’ exercise. I find that if I’m only shooting food, the camera might sit in my bag for 2 weeks untouched while I plan my next shoot or post. Highly unacceptable considering the investment I made in getting a more serious camera. So while shooting food is still my first love, this PotD project is meant to help me ‘get out of my comfort zone’, to use the most gauche cliché I can think of. Here is a link to the first PotD taken yesterday.

While social media has mostly passed me by, I am addicted to twitter. Many of the people or streams I follow belong to photographers and I’m always blown away when a photographer decides to follow my stream. I’ve learned so much from them, their blogs, their photos, their dedication and to a lesser degree, their habits. This is where I discovered the PotD concept. I always try and look at the photos that are posted by other photogs, most are strong, great photos, then there are a couple of duds. It’s to be expected I suppose, after 25 years in a kitchen not every one of my recipes is stellar; some are just downright bad ideas. But like the photographer, I learn from my failures to be able to make better dishes. My rules for my PotD are simple, no staging and no tripods.

I’m sure that my first year of PotD photos will contain more duds than winners, so the idea is to get better gradually over time, something I’m not going to do by leaving my camera in the bag for 2 weeks at a clip.

Some things I’ve accomplished this year with a camera:

1. Had a photo used in an advertising piece for a restaurant here in Colorado.
2. Had a photo used as an intro to a review in a magazine here in Denver.
3. Participated in the Worldwide Moment.
4. Took photos for friends who were trying to preserve the memory of a terminally ill pet.
5. Sold the same photo twice on a stock website (a whopping $3.00!)
6. Fell in love with food all over again.

 

I also have goals for 2010, a few of which are:

1. Complete 4 themed project 50’s. The four themes I have picked are Blue, Motion, Patterns and Faces. Some of these may overlap also as PotD entrants.
2. See my PotD project until the end on December 15th, 2010.
3. Assist a professional in a photo shoot (or just hang out and watch), as much as I can anyway.
4. Sell a 2nd photo on a stock website.
5. Capture good photos when my second daughter is born in January.
6. Photograph a special event dinner.
7. Spend 2 weeks in Europe with my camera, err, wife.

Lastly, although there are 2 weeks left in the year, I’ve decided to choose what I think was my best photo this year. I also want to post a link to a photo that inspired me, my own little Photo of the Year. I would love to see some links to your favorite photos, food or otherwise, from 2009.

Happy New Year

C-

14 Responses

  1. Pingback: Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette | ChristopherCina.com

  2. Hi Chris, I just came across your blog through our Denver foodie meet up blogger group. Very interesting to read about your progress in food photography. I am starting a class this Wednesday. Like your wife, I am German, too and I am so sorry, but Christmas is on the 24th in the evening. That is just how it is at our house as well. Keep up the great work and may we will meet one day through the blogger group or through the Germans. Liebe Gruesse Kirsten

  3. Mr Lady says:

    I love watching your evolution over all of these *gasp* *wait for it* THIRTEEN YEARS I’ve known you.

    Can you believe that?

    These are beautiful. I cannot wait to sit in your restaurant and eat your food again. I’m totally going to make you make me mussels. Be warned.

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention Food Photography | ChristopherCina.com -- Topsy.com

  5. Helene says:

    Keep it up! Looking forward to seeing what 2011 has in store for you Chris!
    Hope you get to spend some time in Germany with the family, you deserve it!

  6. Melissa says:

    I stumbled upon you after seeing a few mentions on twitter and I’ve been taking a browse through your site. You do beautiful work!

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