A friend and I had set up a small project for ourselves a little while ago. He is involved in design and a bit of photography and had wanted to add some menu work to his portfolio, I on the other hand wanted to play with lighting and get some food photography into my portfolio.
Although i enjoy doing a little cooking, neither of us are artisan cooks by any stretch of the imagination but luckily another friend of ours family owns a local Japanese restaurant so we had proposed to them the idea of doing the photography as well as a redesign of the menu so long as they provide us the dishes for the photo shoot. They of course had no problem with this so we had setup a date to do this and that date finally came last Sunday.
I've practiced a little food photography on my own in the past though nothing extensive, to be honest the food was generally eaten by the time I even got my strobes and camera into place. Regardless this was a bit of a different venture since overall it involved a lot more planning and preparation as well as factoring the smaller shooting space and time limitations.
We had decided on the dishes we would be shooting as well as the general theme we had wanted to use after some research.
Unfortunately we had a little trouble finding a material we had wanted to use to retain a feel and texture we had wanted for this particular shoot. To top it off we would be dealing with dishes with a number of individual sushi and sashimi as opposed to my earlier impression that it would be much smaller sets. In the end I had switched the lighting around and fine tuned it to accommodate the larger set pieces.
One of the first problems we had run into was the fabric we had chosen for the table cloth was a little wrinkly. Even after running an iron over it a few times small bumps and wrinkles still showed up due to the height of the main strobe. To counter that I set up a mirror held in place by a clamp on a stand to reflect some of the main light , essentially adding fill light to the shadow side and getting rid of the wrinkles.
A little farther down the road we had set up yet another mirror and bounced a snooted strobe into to add some specular highlights as well as some shadow fill created by pieces that were in between the main light source and the rest of the dish.
While we ended up with a lot of usable shots I must confess I had a little difficulty with the compositions of some of the bigger dishes. Part of the difficulty was in regards to the limited space of the set up. My camera had been up against a wall so I did not have much room to move around, nor did we have much room to move the whole set up not to mention the fact we were limited on time for shooting.
Over all it was not without it's hiccups but they're expected by now, nothing ever goes according to plan and you have to move and adapt rather quick.
The mirrors I had used in the shoot were nothing more than about 6"x6" mirror tiles I picked up from Walmart. The reason I had opted for these was the slightly harsher light they would provide over using a white foam core board as well as the relative small size of them. They actually came in quite handy.