Questions Answered: Fusion

Production Insight from Jordan Bailey, Creative Producer

When shooting food photography and video is there a particular type of shot which is more difficult to capture than others? How do you overcome that challenge?

Every shot has its unique challenges and opportunities. For this project, the in-studio shots were the most difficult for a few reasons. But that’s not to say there weren’t challenges, like lighting variations, when we shot in the restaurant.

The in-studio shots let me try my hand at food styling in addition to being the photographer/videographer. Opting for shots like that, which force me to multi-task, is always a fun challenge to push my skills.

I chose to use natural directional light from an open door and one reflector. This allowed me to light the food but still keep the surface as dark as possible.

I built my own backdrop using black matboard and chalk to create a subtle marble effect, then used some accessories—black netted fabric and little wooden supports—to offer some texture. The most difficult part of in-studio shots is building and styling the environment. You have so much freedom to create whatever you want, but on the flip side it can be difficult to keep it simple. It’s easy to keep adding and adding.

Talk about your lighting strategy for this project. How did you approach low-light situations, like the restaurant, to ensure you captured visually engaging shots? 

We have great little lights that are battery powered and look like tubes or, dare I say, light sabers. The more technical name is the Quasar Dimmable LED Lamp. They can fit nearly anywhere. When we could, we used these to add a punch of light here and there. They also can change hue and saturation, so for the bar scenes we added some cool blue light to add to the atmosphere. We didn’t want to make it feel like a studio. The restaurant was full of people and the low lighting in there made it feel intimate and fun, so we didn’t aim to change that. We also shot with Blackmagic Pocket Cinema cameras which have great dynamic range and allowed us to shoot with higher ISOs without adding grain. Equipment matters!!

How is food photography and videography different than shooting a live subject or a landscape setting? 

There is typically different equipment involved. And, for commercial food photography/videography I would also say that food STYLING is as important as the quality of the lighting/camerawork. BUT there are no hard rules because anyone can use any kind of equipment to make interesting images.

For landscape work a wide-angle lens is useful and that’s not always the right choice for food, but there are exceptions. For live subjects that move a lot, higher shutter speeds are required to capture the movement, but food doesn’t move…. unless you are making it move for really dynamic images. I don’t think food photography/videography is really that different from other types of shooting, it depends on what you want the final outcome to be. Get creative with equipment, just as you would with other types of work, and just make good looking stuff!

What was the most challenging aspect of this project? 

Waiting long enough to capture the food and beverages before we consumed it all. 

How do you approach slow-motion shots differently than real-time shots?

It’s all about light and shutter speed. Slow motion footage requires more light. A shot could be correctly exposed at 24 frames per second (standard fps for real time) but once you choose 60 or 120 frames per second, less light is affecting the sensor and therefore a slow motion shot could be underexposed in playback. Additionally, depending on the lights in the environment you are shooting, there could be shuttering if the shutter speed isn’t adjusted correctly. So, add more light and adjust shutter speed when shooting with slow motion and you could end up with some epic footage.

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