On Day 6 you wrote a story that you wanted to capture in a food photograph. Let’s look at what you did on Day 6.
You decided a subject and then identified the main character of the story. You also wrote few lines describing what you wanted to capture in the frame.
Today we take it even further.Before we get into Day 8, please make sure you complete Day 7 tasks. Mostly importantly, make sure you have submitted your weekly progress. Yes I am reading each one of the updates.
Seriously, update your progress before moving forward. Click here.
Have you submitted your update? Do it. Go ahead. I’ll wait for you here.
Good.. so let’s continue.
Nathalia told the story about coffee in Brasil. Mihaela also told a story about coffee. It was amazing to see so many different stories that participants wanted to capture in a photograph.
Those five or so lines gave you a good start, but is that enough for taking a photograph? From the comments on the post, it seems like for many the exercise has helped.
Next, we take this story to even more detailed level.
Let’s take an example – drinking tea with friends and having a good time.
Many cultures around the world drink tea. So how would you photograph this concept? To make this concept actionable, we need few more details. We need to answer more questions.
Let’s look at it again – We would like to photograph “drinking tea with friends and having a good time.”
Around the world, many cultures have given great importance to drinking tea. In Japan, tea culture is very sophisticated and elegant. In India, tea drinking is more alive when it is at a street vendor. In Europe, drinking tea has a different meaning to it.
So how do we make a photograph of “drinking tea with friends and having a good time.”
We need to identify elements of the food story. In your food photo, what you do want to show? Are you in India on a street corner? or in a restaurant drinking tea? You are the photographer so make a decision.
What time is it? Is it an early morning tea? or is it mid afternoon? Again, you have to decide. It’s your photograph and it’s your story.
If you are at a street vendor, what else is going on at the street vendor that you would like to show in your photograph?
Are you eating anything with your tea?
How many friends are with you? Are they all drinking tea?
Is the tea just arrived and its hot and steamy? Or has it been sitting there for a while and the tea glass is half empty?
Too many questions to answer? Absolutely. Too many decisions to make. Yes.
The more clear you are about the concept of your photograph, the more easy it will be for you to make other decisions like camera angle, depth of field, framing decisions and bunch of other decisions that we’ll talk about in next few days.
You are probably asking do all food photographers go through this exercise in this detail? What I’ve learned after interview many many food photographers is that these decisions are part of storytelling and photography process. Every food photographer’s process is different.
All the things that we have and we will talk during this 30 Day challenge, don’t actually take 30 Days to decide, as you may have figured out. In most cases, they make the decisions about camera angle, framing etc in matter of minutes. Many times these answers surface up as part of exploration.
As you practice food photography more, you will get better at answering these questions and asking new ones.
Now moving to today’s assignment..
Time Estimated – 30 mins
Before you start this assignment, remove yourself from all the distractions. Go to a place where you cannot be disturbed. You need to complete Day 6 assignment before starting today’s assignment. If you haven’t completed it, go to Day 6 and finish the assignment first.
Remember the goal – Your end goal is to clearly tell the story of a food dish and what’s going around this dish. This is the story you will capture in a photograph.
Additional Clarification – This is storytelling using one frame of photo. This is not a story that usually blogs write about as part of introduction. We are capturing a story about the food and what’s going around that food when you are taking the photo. Please ask questions below if this is not clear. This is a very important concept, so don’t hesitate… ask away.
Step 1 – Start with your story from Day 6. Do you recall it? Hopefully, you've written it on a piece of paper of saved it.
Step 2 - For this story, now we will take this to the next level and describe it in finer details. Let’s start -
- Define where are you? Are you in a restaurant or street corner? In dining area or porch?
- What time of the day is it?
- Is this happening in a certain season?
- Who all are around the food? Kids or Adults?
- Are you eating/drinking something else with it?
These are just few questions that you should ask.
What other questions would you ask for your subject? Tell us in the comments below.
Step 3 - Document all these decisions and save them. We will use these decisions in the remainder of this challenge.
Step 4 – In the comments below share 1) What questions you asked? 2) Their answers
Step 5 – Optional but Recommended – Make a photograph that communicates the story. Use ALL the details you’ve described as part of Step 2 to create the scene and make the photo. Submit your photo to lesson album. Remember you won't see the album page if you are not member of this private group. Request access to join this group, if you haven't already.
In past years, we've interviewed dozens of outstanding food photographers. Food photographers who have shot for Nat Geo, food bloggers who became food photography experts and food stylists for magazines like Cooking light to name a few... You can listen to these interviews as a bonus assignment.