Seattle-based photographer Steve Hansen has a knack for creating food images that pop. Standard food photography is often times flat and lifeless, with minimal props and color. Steve avoids boring imagey by adding a a sense of environment to his food photography, which makes his work stand out from the rest.
For this shoot, Steve’s subject is marshmallows. Instead of photography these marshmallows on a clean plate against a simple backdrop, Steve decides the attempt to recreate an outdoor campfire scene in his studio.
The first important element in this setup is his backdrop. Steve selected this image specifically and printed it out for this scene. He illuminates the backdrop by placing a Skylux at a 45º angle to maintain its vibrancy without creating a glare.
To illuminate his “campfire” and marshmallows, Steve uses a 1′ x 3′ daylight-balanced Flex LED. This light is diffused to add softness for a very natural outdoor look. This light is flagged with a black card to eliminate unwanted light spilling onto his backdrop.
To fill in shadows on the right side of his image, Steve adds a white card to bounce back light from his Flex. Since light reflecting off of plants in the forest would have a green tint, Steve places a mossy green paper on his white card.
To style his image, Steve carefully selects his “hero” subjects: pieces of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers with minimal flaws. He places these items precisely around his campfire, which is constructed with burned wood pieces, charcoal, and flour.
To light the fire for the shot, Steve uses rubber cement to designate an area to burn. Rubber cement is the perfect catalyst as it burns out quickly and lower the possibility of the fire getting out of control. Please note that, like Steve, you should always keep water and a fire extinguisher nearby when shooting with real flames.