Food Pornographer at large-Tips for aspiring food porn stars

The term food porn is what people are calling the beautiful food shots that are in your face, up close and make you drool. That makes me a food pornographer. I actually really love the term. It makes what I do seem so much more intriguing.

One of the Pioneers of food porn was Bill Helms. An amazing photographer who actually had Ansel Adams as a teacher. I was fortunate to work with Bill and learn from the master. For 8 years I studied his moves and when I went out on my own, I was ready.

Over the years I have developed my personal style and have come up with my own techniques. No matter which lighting method you decide to use there are a few standard tips I can share with aspiring food pornographers.

Get a macro lens. The intimacy of this choice is obvious. Amazing selective focus, great detail and up close an in your face photography. The trend to have 1 seed on a bun only in focus and the rest out of focus is pretty much done. If you can create a nice composition and still manage to hold a decent depth of field you are on your way.

The great thing about a macro lens is that it can be used not just in macro mode but also as a regular lens. The difference between a regular lens and a macro is that once you exceed the minimum focusing distance on the lens you can move in even closer and switch to macro. It’s like having an amp that goes to 11. With every lens there is a minimum distance that the lens will focus. The longer the lens the greater that distance is. Let’s say that you are composing a photograph and your lens has a minimum focusing distance of 2 feet. You can’t bring the lens any closer or nothing will be in focus. The beauty of the macro is that you can move closer in macro mode.

Interesting things happen when you do this. The depth of field becomes shorter. Depth of field is relational to your f stop. When the lens is open 2.8 the field of focus is diminished. The reason is simple. Optics of a lens are the best from the center outward. The sweet spot is in the center. Thats why when you shoot at f 22 most everything is in focus. You are only using a small spot on the lens to capture the image. The quality if the lens degrades towards the edges so when you open up (make the iris larger) you get a fall off in focus. Thankfully it works that way or photography would be pretty boring.

Photographers learned a long time ago to use this to their advantage and so can you. The difference between a regular lens and a macro is that the focus falls of much quicker. The closer you are in a object the more exaggerated it is. Where you would normally want to use 2.8 with a normal lens to get a short depth of field, you would use f11 or higher to achieve the same results proportionally.

Use of a tripod is very important. The closer you are to an object the easier it is to experience camera shake. Everything is magnified especially unsteady hands. A tripod also lets you set the shutter speed to a much longer setting to get the f-stop required to get proper depth of field.

Lock the mirror up if your camera supports this. Since the mirror has to move in order to expose the sensor, that vibration could make the difference between a great photo and an unusable image. Use a cable release or timer to further reduce vibration.

If you want to capture some amazing food porn and be a food pornographer, a 100mm or higher macro lens will get you closer to the goal.

Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm
Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell

About Bill Brady Food Photographer

I am an accomplished food and beverage photographer. Having managed to combine my 2 great passions food and photography into a career has been an absolute joy. I spend my time creating food images not only for a living but for my audience. It's a labor of love for me. Recently I have teamed up with a group of very talented people to launch an online Magazine called Heat Magazine. A magazine about all foods spicy. Enjoy
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5 Responses to Food Pornographer at large-Tips for aspiring food porn stars

  1. barbara says:

    Thanks for this info Bill. I brought a 90mm macro several years ago when I was new to photography. I told the salesman I wanted it for photographing food but I have a feeling he just sold me what he had in stock that could do the job. Idon’t think it is the perfect lens for food. It sat in my cupboard unused until recently when I was looking for more variety in my Project 365 photos. I have had some success this past week. But do you think exchanging it for a 100mm would be a better move for food photography. I’ve noticed some of the food bloggers I admire mention a 100mm lens.

    • billbrady says:

      I really don’t see a huge difference between the 90 and the 100 to make a switch. You also have to factor in if your camera is a 1:1 or a 1:1.5. If so the 100 becomes a 150mm lens.
      My advice is to use the lens and get comfortable with it. You will find the sweet spot eventually.

  2. I have a 60 mm macro lens, on a cropped sensor. I don’t always get perfect photos but I think it’s probably as much about the photographer as the equipment. Understanding the equipment that you have, and what its capabilities are will improve your photography a lot more than buying another expensive lens. Thanks for the tips. I’m digging out my manual to find out more about locking the mirror.

  3. Mary Jo says:

    Great photos but where are the recipes? I saw the salmon one on TasteSpotting, which normally has recipes linked to each photo.

    • billbrady says:

      I generally post recipes but my blog is also about food photography and photo techniques as well.
      Tastespotting only requires a link to a blog not a recipe. Most of the entries are recipes however. Sorry if you were disappointed.

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