Loafin’ Around: Food Photography Tips

When Wilkinson Baking asked me about shooting marketing images of their bread, I was excited (and hungry) because I’d had a loaf before and it was delicious! Wilkinson Baking is an innovative company that has designed and fabricated the first fully-automated bread bakery.” Customers can walk into a store and watch the automated bakery mix, knead, and bake their loaf right in front of their eyes.

Wilkinson Baking

I worked with Eric, the operations manager at WB, to have a set of 12 loaves (4 of each type of bread) dropped off at my house right out of the oven. Immediately, I started tackling the task of creating clean, sleek images that would fit the brand. I also aimed for the images to be slightly innovative like the company–to be unique, and perhaps a little cheeky and fun.

Food Photography Tips

I’ve learned a lot over the last year as I’ve dived into more food photography–some through mistakes, some via advice from colleagues. Here are some tips I’ve gleaned from my journey so far.

Food should be shot at the temperature it is designed to be eaten.

Cheese has an entirely different look when it cools opposed to when it’s glistening hot. Likewise, the body of a bread loaf begins to cave in a bit as it cools, loosing the delicious “loaf-y” look that is so enticing. Ice cream begins to melt, pasta loses its sheen, pie filling stops gleaming once it cools… You get the picture. Food photography is time-sensitive.

Always have extra of the thing you’re planning to shoot.

As you “use” the food (plate it, arrange it, style it, move it) it will start to look a bit rag-tag. In the case of the bread, I needed loaves I could cut, stack, pair, and pile in my husband’s arms (see final shot). That’s why having 12 loaves, while it might seem like overkill, was incredibly helpful. It gave me the freedom to try things without worrying about ruining my one loaf.

Having extra “product” can also allow you to be creative. When I’m contracted to make and shoot a recipe, I often buy double of certain ingredients. If a recipe calls for 1/2 a cup of nuts, I’ll get a full cup and use some of the extras as plating cues that tell viewers something about the ingredients in the product. In the case of the bread, I scattered oats over the cutting board under the bread to give that “Hey! This is healthy stuff!” vibe.

Edit food/products to their true qualities.

Food doesn’t always photograph accurately. For example, shadows on food can give an over-done or burned look. I especially notice this problem when photographing meats, but even with these bread images, I had to make some adjustments. For example, I drew some of the darks out of the shadows on certain images to make sure customers wouldn’t get the wrong idea about the bread’s texture–which is soft and delicious.

Color can also be distorted in an image. Doing a check between what you shot and what the product actually looks like is important. It’s also critical to not over-edit an image to be something that it isn’t. As I once read, “Nothing kills a bad product like good advertising.”

In other words, don’t promise something through a photo that isn’t going to be delivered when the customer takes a bite. In the case of Wilkinson Bakery bread, I already knew the product was a winner. But even still, I did another taste test to make sure–a photographer’s duty!

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Wilkinson Baking

Website: emilystarpoole.com

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