International Conference on Food Styling & Photography

Last weekend I attended the third biannual International Conference on Food Styling & Photography in Boston (June 24–27, 2011).  A wellspring of inspiration, I came away with pages and pages of notes of new things with which to experiment.

The entire event was fabulous (great speakers, great attendance, and of course great food!) but one the highlights was Friday’s “Evolution of Studio Food Photography” session. Three different photographer/stylist teams worked on a mock job in order to illustrate different approaches for solving the business problem. 

As art director, Neil Martin shared the style guide for the shoot. The guide was a compilation of information about the client’s vision, the use of the work, and the budget of the project. One team was instructed to shoot for editorial use, one for packaging, and the last for advertising. He identified the target for this sample case by asking questions including:

  • What are they like?
  • What do they already think of the brand?
  • What should they think?

Another particularly interesting part of his talk was a summary of ways to achieve the look of an “energetic” food photo. Here are some of his suggestions:

  • Stacking & balancing (suggests movement through things looking as if they wanted to fall, or the viewer wants to pick one up)
  • Photos of process & prepping
  • Use of elimination (nothing is as desirable as what’s impossible to obtain)
  • Multiplying (“if 3’s a crowd, 10’s a party!”)
  • Use of interesting angles and cropping

Seeing the different ways the teams approached the problem, set up, and interact was fascinating.

Viktor Budnik and Karen Hazarian Tully

Here photographer Viktor Budnik and stylist Karen Hazarian Tully work on an image of mozzarella lit with a single light reflected off white board and through several glass vases filled with water.

Below, photographer Jeffrey Kauck shoots and image of pasta, cheese and a pear styled by Nir Adar. Jeff is using natural light from the window on the right.

Check out and Nir Adar’s workspace and travel case of styling equipment.

Nir Adar

The third team was composed of photographer Deborah Jones and Lisa Golden Schroeder. Here they are working with stacks of parmesan chips, again lit naturally from the window.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and look forward to the next!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s