Join Bill Robbins for an in-depth discussion in this video Styling napkins, tablecloths, and utensils, part of Learning Food and Drink Photography.
Another element where we can add a little bit of our own personality is in the styling of the objects around the food. When we are photographing food at a restaurant or in the studio we can create a little bit more storytelling by what we do with the napkin, tablecloth, and utensils. This could also be extended to the rest of the objects on the table, but the ones that are most commonly in view are the napkins and utensils. In this movie, we're going to look at some of the techniques for styling that can help you improve your food photography.
With napkins, it's important to use ones that are iron or steamed and do not have creases. So let's take a look at a few things. Here is one that hasn't been ironed or steamed, and you can see that that's not going to be very appealing when we have that in our photograph. So let's look at some options to that. So here we have a napkin that has been steamed and iron, and you can see it renders really nicely. So our photograph of the croissant on the plate with the napkin would go really well.
We could also just move this around, putting that under the plate itself, to help create a little bit more design interest. All right, so we've got that shot. Let's move on to something a little bit more exciting. Let's take this napkin and we're going to twirl it and play with a little bit to try and create a little bit more of an interesting shape and the look of spontaneity to our image. So what I'm doing is just taking and playing with the lines of the napkin, running it under the plate, trying to get the curves to make the eye follow and at the same time keep the viewer locked in on the center of interest. So that's a good option.
Our last option that we want to talk about is working with the armature wire. So the armature wire, we discussed previously, is being used here under the napkin to help create this shape. So let me just pull this back, but first, let me move this over, and again you can see how with this point of view we are able to place our napkin under it, and we can actually shape the napkin the way we want with that armature wire underneath it. Okay, so let's take a look at how that was done. And you can see that I just used some double-sided tape and also those little makeup sponges.
The thing that I do is to try and make this look very natural and spontaneous. This is something that you can do easily on location with a little bit of practice. Now let's switch over and look at some utensils. I'm going to slide this in here. For utensils, we want to keep things natural and spontaneous; we don't have to have everything lined up all the time. We will use them as a design element and work them into the storytelling.
There are some angles that will look better than others, so let's take a look at what we have in front of us. So we have a nice setting and if our food was here, we would be ready to shoot. Everything is lined up really nicely, and we get our shot. But let's push things a little bit further. We want to go back to that "how can we get this to look a little bit more natural and spontaneous?" idea. So if I take the fork and I use it to break this line of the plate, it will help make this look a little bit more spontaneous and natural.
The next thing that we can do, as we're looking through our viewfinder on the camera, is start to move this fork around into different positions. Now in this case I'm laying the fork all the way on the top of the plate. So again, I'm breaking the shape of it. That's going to also help the viewer stay focused on the food. So looking through the viewfinder, we would move this around to different positions on the clock. And if we needed to, we could use a little double-sided tape to hold this in position. So we're just going to move it around to different positions and find a really sweet spot for it.
One other things that I would really suggest that you look at, and maybe stay away from, is when you have the fork right side up, this can catch a lot of reflections. So you want to be aware of what's happening on the surface of this fork. Now if there was a little bit of food on this, this could conceivably work in this direction. All right the last thing that I want to look at is looking at stacked utensils and how to make them look a little bit more interesting. So we could just shoot the stack of spoons stacked up, but I think when we fan these out they becomes a little bit more descriptive and little bit more interesting to our design.
So when working with your shot, think about how you can make the elements, such as the napkin and utensils, be more of the story. Don't be afraid to go further with these elements and push past what you might think is too far in styling; you might be surprised at the results.
- Understanding what makes a food photo appetizing
- Comparing emotional and graphic compositional styles
- Choosing the right camera
- Evaluating lens options
- Choosing light reflectors
- Finding creative backgrounds
- Creating specular and diffuse lighting setups
- Creating different looks for each dish
- Creating a chill effect for drinks
- Shooting on location at a restaurant
- Editing photos