A Food Photography Class with David Griffen

I thought I would share with you some of the food photography tips I learned by attending a workshop taught by David Griffen. It was held at the Google headquarters in London in association with Great British Chefs. Marcus Wareing provided all the food that we were going to both photograph and eat. He also gave us his opinions about bloggers and the role they play in the food world. Let’s just say he was not a fan but has slowly come to terms with us bloggers, the role we play in both photographing and reviewing food and showcasing our own recipes, spreading the food word via social media.

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Listening to David Griffen talk about photographing food was creatively inspirational. I am what’s known as a lazy food photographer. I have a reasonably good camera, which I leave on auto then point and shoot. Does this make me a bad food photographer?  Possibly. Probably. I know I have a weakness but my pictures are ok so I get by and have become ever increasingly reliant on my Iphone which I think takes brilliant shots. Guess what though. David Griffen thinks phones are ace too. It’s the camera apps that count.

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Here are some of the points I took away with me and I have already started putting his advice into practice. Maybe I will be a better food photographer for it. Here’s how!

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David Griffen’s Food Photography Tips

Taking a photo involves 4 processes

1. Lighting

 

Good lighting can make or break a good photo. Try and take pictures during the day, under natural light. A north facing large window is ideal (I now love my north facing garden!) and side lighting is really effective as is lighting coming in from behind.  So, taking a shot with the camera facing into that light will create drama. Taking photos at night will mean you have to correct the light to reduce the yellowing effect artificial light produces.

2. Composition

 

Setting up the shot is important. Decide how you want to style it before you plate up your food. Think about colours and remember not to over style your shots. Food often looks better before it is plated up. This gives it a natural, real and accessible feel. It also makes you want to dive right into the picture and grab some of the food. Over-styled, super perfect photos can lose their appeal by being almost too good in a clinical way, so relax a bit more. A few well chosen items on an attractive background will be enough to create the right composition. Move around when taking your photos. Movement translates well into your photos. A static shot may not have as much impact. Moving around and trying out different angles will allow you to discover how different food can look and feel from varying heights, sides and distance.

3. Exposure

 

The taking of the photo. David says a tripod isn’t that necessary. He demonstrated this in an image of an Iphone propped up in a wine glass. So cool. And free. He also recommends investing in a couple of pop-up reflectors which are cheap yet effective. David emphasised just how good camera phones are now, so use your phone camera as well as your regular camera. Sometimes I think my photos should all be taken by my phone, The latest iPhone upgrade is amazing to see. The most important factor should always be to get the right focus. Focus. Focus. Focus.

4. Corrections

 

After taking your photos, now it’s time for the editing. This is the part I find extremely frustrating and time consuming as a blogger. When I do edit my pictures correctly, I think to myself, I really must do this more. Then, I do one or two and say, forget it. I suppose it comes down to the fact that bloggers aren’t paid for running their blogs so how much time do you want to hand over to the photography? I think that depends on if you are using your blog as a platform for your photographic work or not. For editing, David recommends Lightroom  or Photoshop. As an amateur, you probably won’t need to use both. David puts them through Lightroom first and then moves onto Photoshop for the finishing touches. He also highly recommends Snapseed. It is brilliant for providing your photos with drama as well as structure. It sharpens the  images too. ProCamera and VSCO Cam come highly recommended too.

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David’s work was something else. It is camera art. What appeals to me most about his work is the lack of pretension. It is brilliant but in a relaxed informal way which brings the best out the food he is representing . I do want to jump into his pictures and help myself to the food. He practices what he preaches and provided us bloggers with a chance to have a taste of his photography world, which is a pretty special place to be.

This event was put together by SocialMediaWeek in association with Great British Chefs.

 

Comments

  1. How interesting Laura. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like it was a fascinating event!

  2. Thanks for sharing the tips Laura.

  3. Thanks for sharing Laura – I could dive into those bowl of olives – far too tempting!

  4. lovely post – I have yet to do mine.
    It was a great couple of hours and nice to see you that day too!

  5. Great post and really useful tips – I certainly be applying quite a few of those in future when I’m pointing and shooting with my camera on auto!

  6. That sounds like a very useful workshop Laura. I do know some of this, but as you say, it comes down to time. I don’t think I’m lazy so much as impatient, but I know I really should put a little more thought into my photographs :(

  7. Some good tips Laura. Food photography is something I’d really like to improve on, so thanks for sharing these ideas – I’ll try to put some of your advice into action!

  8. Really helpful tips Lauara, thank you for sharing. I’m very much of the ‘automatic, point and shoot’ school of blog photography too and I’ve been meaning for some time to put more thought into my photographs. These tips will come really in useful, especially all about the editing process 

  9. Thanks so much for sharing these tips. I think my photography is getting better but I have a very long way to go! It’s quite challenging I find to do a two ingredient curry justice. Did you see the halloumi and black bean curry? X

  10. Im so Jealous, would have loved to do this for 2 reasons, I love photography and also Marcus, hes from my home town and would love to be able to chat to him x

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