When an image of food makes you crave that item, there were people behind the scenes who created that image together and created it just for that purpose. Well done! The photograph of the cake you see was a spur of the moment decision for me. A friend of mine had told me about a place that sold them and I happened to drive by it on the way to a photography meeting. I decided to stop on my way home and grab one to try.
I'm going to tell you something that might surprise you. I'm not a super junk food kind of person. My kiddos didn't grow up eating Hostess snacks very often at all. If they got treats like that it was because their Daddy likes to buy sweets. I love him anyway, so I won't hold it against him. All that to say, the kids know it's a treat if I am the one to make the purchase.
Before I cut into it, I ran into my studio and started searching for props to style an image. If I would have just photographed the cake on a plate it wouldn't have been all that appetizing. The colors are neutral. They needed a little something. Luckily, I knew that I wanted to be able to offer Food Photography to potential clients, so I have a "prop closet" of items specifically for food. Layering the image gave it a raise that I knew would be pleasing. Then I sorted through my flatware choices. The cake looks like something timeless and a little old fashioned, so I chose a fork that looked like something my Grandmother would have used.
From there I needed something with color to really make it stand out. The gorgeous blue mat you see was handmade by my friend and artist, Reagan Dirksen. She's a certified faux finish painter who's created wall art recently for State of Mind in Longview. She's extremely talented and I would love for you to check out her page here. Do you remember Douglas Wilson from Trading Spaces? He used to paint all kinds of unique wall details using faux finishes. That's what Reagan enjoys painting best. You can see the different colors underlying in the mat from this image. It's my favorite mat of all she's made. Blues are my "signature color".
After positioning the plates, the cake, and the fork on the mat I knew that it was still a little bland. I picked off white chocolate chips from the top and sprinkled them around the plate to give it a little touch of variety. After the lighting was set, I took several shots and decided that this was "the one".
Going back to the original mention that there are usually several people involved in good Food Photography I want you to consider how many people it takes sometimes. The baker or chef is one of the key players, then you have the food stylist who makes sure the arranging of every detail is in place, of course, the Food Photographer, someone from the commissioned piece, such as the general manager of the company will also be on set, but even after all of that, the editor could make changes post-processing. As a matter of fact, I know that a big city person is hired specifically for dollops. I'm not sure how often that dollop person gets to do that job, but they must be a perfectionist, dollops aren't as easy as they look.
I'm not a food stylist per se, but I do take my time to rearrange if necessary. Not only that, but I want you to know that Food Photography is time-consuming. It's not something that takes a few minutes per item. It could literally take days to get an image that everyone can agree on. The time of day and even cloudy skies can take a toll on the way a Food Image looks. Be patient if you're unfamiliar with the process.
When I was hired for The Texas Best Smokehouse and Zippy J's digital menu boards, we had a plan. Sometimes things don't go according to plan. When that happens, you roll with it. Or at least, we did. Not everything is in my control and I can only do so much. All in all, I had a great time working with the chef at Sysco and the images are now playing at several locations.
If you're a restaurant owner and you're looking to revamp your menu or needing images for advertising, I would love to throw my hat in the ring. Send me a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Now tell me, does this image make you want to try this cake?