Milan Ilic  Milan Ilic
It is always important for me to choose a location that will fit the atmosphere I’m looking for. For example, if I want to create a cozy, at-home atmosphere, it’s important to find a warm place, whether it’s a restaurant or a café or a studio set of a living room. Of course, don’t forget to pay attention to the props, including trays, plates, glasses, etc. Their color and style should fit your desired atmosphere as well.
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3. “If the models are not comfortable eating in front of the camera, I try to stay invisible and encourage them to act as if they were alone.”
Image by Twinsterphoto. Gear: Canon 6D camera, Sigma 50, F1.4 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/80 sec; f2.8; ISO 400.
When I create scenes with people eating food, I always encourage them to actually indulge in the moment. If the models are not comfortable eating in front of the camera, I try to stay invisible and encourage them to act as if they were alone. The main key that makes certain photos sell well is authenticity.
Image by Twinsterphoto
The location has to suit the story you want to express in your photos; however, try to avoid complicated backgrounds. I try to keep those as minimal as possible to make sure people will pay attention to my subjects.
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4. “…make sure that the models don’t actually chew while you’re taking photos because that tends to yield unflattering facial expressions.”
Image by Robert Kneschke. Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera, Canon EF 35mm f1,4 L II lens. Settings: Exposure 1/200 sec; f1.8; ISO 250.
The preparation of the food itself is always important for great images. Buy much more food than you actually need, and carefully select the freshest (i.e. unblemished) food. This rule is especially crucial for vegetables and fruits. When you want to show “homemade food,” however, the results are allowed to look a bit imperfect. Additionally, make sure that the models don’t actually chew while you’re taking photos because that tends to yield unflattering facial expressions.
Image by Robert Kneschke
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5. “Unless your models are also great actors, it’s good if they know and like each other.”
Image by Kamil Macniak. Gear: Canon 5DS R camera, 85mm f1.2 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/100 sec; f2.2; ISO 640.
Whenever we shoot people eating food, we think a lot about the concept and our possibilities. We consider the kinds of food that will look good in the picture and will survive the shoot in good shape (e.g. won’t melt too quickly or change color). If you want the food to look authentic, it should be authentic and well-prepared so that models can truly eat and enjoy it.
As far as models are concerned, try to choose people who like to eat. When shooting groups with food, we like our models to know each other. That way, they don’t have to pretend they are friends, and we can easily capture great authentic photos. This also holds true when shooting couples. Unless your models are also great actors, it’s good if they know and like each other.
And last but definitely not least, consider the atmosphere. If you want your models to look real and relaxed while eating, a friendly atmosphere during the whole shoot will be the key.
Image by Kamil Macniak
6. “The location, the people, their emotions, their clothing, the props, and, of course, the food should all work together to tell a story.”
Image by Kzenon. Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera. Settings: Focal length 100mm; exposure 1/160 sec; f4; ISO 125.
Food is not only something that makes us less hungry. Food can comfort us or give us the feeling of being at home. It can be exciting or familiar; it can inspire us to explore another culture, and, very often, we share it with friends and family. Food is social context. Food is an experience.
For a good stock photo, it is not enough to just shoot people eating something. The context is important. The location, the people, their emotions, their clothing, the props, and, of course, the food should all work together to tell a story.
Image by Kzenon
7. “In these kinds of photos, the person is the main subject, so the model should never feel rushed.”
Image by Alliance Images. Gear: Nikon D800 camera, Nikkor 28-300 lens. Settings: Focal length 28mm; exposure 1/100 sec; f5.6; ISO 100.
Any photo shoot with food must be done quickly, and that means that everything from styling to lighting and angles etc. must be determined in advance. Of course, we’re not talking about a classic food photo where all the attention will be on the food, but the food still has to look good, so your time will be limited. For instance, I did this shoot in a popular tourist spot in Italy with some classic local gelato; as I only had a minute or two max to get my shot, everything needed to be prepared in advance.
You’ll be working under pressure, but, at the same time, make sure to maintain a relaxed atmosphere. In these kinds of photos, the person is the main subject, so the model should never feel rushed. Instead, they should feel natural and carefree, so engage them in the process.
Image by Alliance Images
If, for example, you are working with real ice cream on a hot sunny day and one of your models is a child, don’t let yourself get tense or nervous. Try to turn everything into a game, and try to be as creative as possible in a short time frame. Accept the situation. Relax, have fun, and don’t be afraid to try different things or even get a little goofy to see what you can pull out of the situation.
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8. “Because we shoot food while traveling, we always make sure that the food matches the location and the background.”
PR Image Factory
Image by PR Image Factory. Gear: Sony A9 camera, Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens. Settings: Focal length 28mm; exposure 1/400 sec; f3.2; ISO 100.
PR Image Factory:
We’ve shot most of our best-selling photos of people eating food while traveling and enjoying local food in natural light. We will usually give our models a short narrative to consider, a bit like the plot of a play, and they will then use their imaginations and respond with a pose that reflects that story naturally. We do not give our models any specific poses, as this tends to result in rigid facial expressions.