In 2016, the age of Instagram, taking pictures of food is an incredibly popular amateur hobby. Look around the dining room the next time you're out for Sunday brunch, and you'll be sure to see diner after diner hovering over their plates with their smartphones, trying to get that perfect shot that will rack up the likes. But what about the professionals? How do they capture images of food that dazzle the eye? Resource Magazine's Robin De Clercq recently chatted with New York Times photographer Andrew Scrivani to find out what goes into quality food porn. Below, the nine best lines from De Clercq's story.
On the importance of proper lighting: "Be sure to understand the way that light hits or should hit your plate of food, and learn how to craft that light by identifying, diffusing and bending it."
On the right tool for the job: "He started off on a 100mm lens, but quickly got into 50mm macro lenses. ...There's no denying the stereotype that food photographers are glued to their macro's. 'I could shoot a whole job with that lens. It's a stereotype for a reason. It's true. And it works.'"
On food and architecture being similar subjects: "But the source of inspiration that might surprise the most, is architecture. 'Food photography is three dimensional art. It has a structure, and you have to photograph it that way.'"
On separating work from pleasure: "'I don't sit down and I don't eat when I shoot. People even have to remind me to eat or drink something, because I am so focused.' That also applies vice versa. When Andrew goes to a restaurant, he is there to eat his food, not to take a picture of it.
On avoiding food waste: Shooting food shouldn't be an excuse to waste food. Therefore, Andrew refuses to use anything artificial, such as hairspray — something he calls "editorial dishonesty."
On finding beauty in an ugly dish: "'I had to call up the stylist to edit the recipe,' after which they ended up cutting up Serrano peppers and sprinkling it on top of the dish. 'It broke off the awfulness, and made it look like food again.' The trick is to break up monochromatic, blobby, shape- and formless food."
On the importance of connecting with food culture: "'You need to understand how people react to your subject. It is therefore very important to participate in the culture of the food you are working with. If I am engaging in some ethnic food that I don't understand or that I don't have a memory of or experience with, I will research it.'"
On the disgusting nature of modern food television: "Andrew therefore hates 'extravagant reality TV versions of eating, like the four pound hamburger or the stacked-and-folded pizza with bacon and meatballs. Extreme is not what food is to us.'"
On separating the amateurs from the pros: "But just because you are taking a picture of your food, doesn't make you a food photographer. It's more of a social media 'look where I am and what I'm eating' phenomenon. Food photography is a way more complicated art form."