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If you want to become a culinary photographer, you are likely to start a career in restaurant photography – this is how most food photographers begin. Restaurants have lower budgets, so they are open to newcomers.

What you need to know for a successful photo shoot in a restaurant

However, taking pictures for restaurants is not so simple. You should not only be able to shoot food, but also the interiors, portraits of the chef and other employees. Taking pictures in a restaurant can be a very time-consuming process, you need to know a lot of details to be sure that you will not get burned by this specific type of shooting, and professional photographer Darina Kopcok will share her tips.

Agree a list of photos

Before you can give a potential customer an estimate, you need to know what you will be photographing in order to calculate how long the survey will take. For example, it may take longer to take pictures of drinks than to take a plate of food, since it will be necessary, among other things, to control reflections in the glass.

Base your estimates on the scope of the project. If you cannot calculate how long the survey will take, you will not be able to evaluate your services accordingly. Find out as much information as possible about how many food images, how many drinks, etc.

Some restaurants may want you to use your own surfaces, utensils, fabrics, etc. for a greater sense of the pictures from the magazine. Keep in mind that such a survey will take longer than photographing dishes on tables in a restaurant.

Explore location and light

Check the location in advance so that you know what you will encounter in terms of lighting. You also need to figure out where to set up your equipment and workspace. This should be done with the consent of the manager or owner of the establishment.

Discuss food style

What you need to know for a successful photo shoot in a restaurant

When shooting in restaurants from the very beginning, clearly indicate that you are not a food stylist and, therefore, are not responsible for how the food itself looks. Food design is another activity. This requires a separate skill set that is not related to photography. Your job is lighting and image capture.

Of course, you always need to know about side dishes and other things, and in general, make sure that the food looks as photogenic as possible. Darina Kopkok, for example, sent back a casually looking hamburger or even two.

What you need to know for a successful photo shoot in a restaurant

The fact is that customers must make sure that their chef will cope with their task. Otherwise, they should hire a stylist to help. However, food stylist services can be expensive and therefore not feasible for a limited budget. If the client does not intend to hire him, he should know that the responsibility for the appearance of the food on the plate ultimately rests with them. Be sure to include this in your contract. You’re signing a contract, right?

What you need to know for a successful photo shoot in a restaurant

Bring a food folding kit and basic props

Despite the fact that you will not deal with the layout of food, you should still have with you a basic set for folding and styling food. It includes items such as tweezers, cotton buds and small brushes to tame the side dish or remove unnecessary crumbs and drops from the plate. You need to do the best job of what is given to you.

It’s a good idea to come prepared with some kind of props just in case. Bring pieces of fabric of various shapes, sizes and colors and there may be some pretty cutlery. Sometimes customers want their tables, cutlery and plates to be removed as regular visitors see them, but many of them take into account the branding direction, which requires a special look and atmosphere.

For example, when Kopkok customers wanted her to create gloomy photos for them, Darina used small dark dishes and vintage cutlery – the opposite of large white dishes in most restaurants.

What you need to know for a successful photo shoot in a restaurant

Use a tripod

If you shoot only in natural light, keep in mind that in most restaurants it will be too dark to take pictures of food. You will need to take pictures by the window and use a tripod to reduce exposure and increase exposure. However, this will not work for photographing people, as they will be blurry at a slow shutter speed.

If the images will be published only on the Internet and social networks, you can check the ISO and eliminate noise in images in post-processing. When Darina studies the location, she takes a few test shots and see how they look in Lightroom before deciding on lighting.

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