By on 2011-12-28

We have a ‘treat’ – no pun intended – for you with this post! Top Pro Photographer Patrick Connor has had much success with food photography as well as product photography. He shares with you his process as well as setup of how he was able to photograph some amazing shots. Then his photography went on the road!

 Food Photography Quick Tips

Photo by: Patrick Connor for Chelo’s Restaurants

Food Photography for Chelo’s Restaurants

So I was contacted by a good friend Henry Ferreira of Blue Sky Group, a local advertising agency. We worked together recently on food shots for a client Cilantro Mexican Grill. I had such a positive experience that I was looking forward to tackling this next project. This time I would be shooting food shots for a local Rhode Island restaurant chain, Chelo’s. They’re expanding their services to include a catering business. The images would be utilized for various marketing materials, website and vehicle wraps. Through email and a couple phone calls we developed a series of shots to be executed.

The day of the shoot I arrived on location at the Chelo’s in Warwick, Rhode Island where they have a catering room. We built our set and set up the lighting equipment in this area as not to interfere with their regular business. The one challenge that I would face is to use real food prepared by their chef. Usually I hire the help of a food stylist for food photography, but our client wanted to show the authenticity of their food. It was important that their patrons could see images of real food, with no tricks or gimmicks. With all that and a shot list including15 specific images I wanted to keep my lighting simple so that we didn’t have to do 15 different lighting set-ups. With each shot lights would be adjusted minimally in order to get the proper lighting needed for the best image.

Lobster Boil Lighting Diagram Food Photography Quick Tips

Note: Exposure f/2.8

My lighting diagram/set-up was quite simple. I utilized three at times four Strobelite Plus with a 24” x 32” Westcott softbox mounted to one Strobelite Plus and a can on the remaining three. My main light was a Westcott Strobelite Plus at 1/2 power with a 24” x 32” Westcott softbox mounted horizontally 2 ft away camera right. My accent light was a Westcott Strobelite Plus at ¾ power with a can mounted about 4ft away camera left. I used another Strobelite Plus at ¾ power with a can as another accent light to skim the side and spill across the food giving it a strong highlight adding contrast. On the Lobster Boil image I added an additional Westcott Strobelite Plus at full power with a can. This Strobelite Plus was aimed down directly at the table behind the lobster. It caused the light to spill over into the large pile of clams and mussels and to give the lobster an added rim light.

PLEASE NOTE CAMERA SETTINGS: I double checked my camera settings in Aperture’s metadata…It was f/29. My 100mm macro ranges from f/2.8 – f/32. There is a lot of light utilized in the Lobster Boil image. Having utilized a Strobelite on full power just behind subject aimed straight down is why I had to shoot at f/29….and yes, Jerry, in my diagrams I call the simple reflectors on the end of my strobes “cans” so that my assistants can distinguish between them and different size reflectors I might use in my setups. Something I picked up from photographers I worked for when I was a young assistant.

Connor Patrick Food Photography Quick Tips

Patrick Connor

A Westcott U Contributor
Patrick began his career in New York in 1998 and has built a reputation for high quality imagery with a unique vitality and style. He is recognized as an expert in manipulating light and has been asked to serve as an instructor for numerous workshops and events in the United States.
Connor Patrick Food Photography Quick Tips
Connor Patrick Food Photography Quick Tips

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6 Comments

  • Really? F/29?

  • I suspect I already know, but I want to be sure. What does Patrick mean when he writes “with a can” in his lighting setup diagram?

    I too am interested in the f/29. Just how powerful are those lights? :)

    • Jerry – ‘with a can’ he definitely means Reflector on a strobe. I’m checking on that camera setting. I’m assuming it’s 2.8, but I want to confirm.

  • I double checked my camera settings in Aperture’s metadata…It was f/29. My 100mm macro ranges from f/2.8 – f/32. There is a lot of light utilized in the Lobster Boil image. Having utilized a Strobelite on full power just behind subject aimed straight down is why I had to shoot at f/29….and yes, Jerry, in my diagrams I call the simple reflectors on the end of my strobes “cans” so that my assistants can distinguish between them and different size reflectors I might use in my setups. Something I picked up from photographers I worked for when I was a young assistant.

  • Thank you for the clarification and explanation.