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Food Photography

Dave_Canon 11 1.3k United Kingdom
8 Jun 2012 1:16PM
I have been to several excellent restaurants including Michelin star standard and seen many famous chefs produce food on TV. One thing in common is excellent visual presentaion (as well as tastse) which utilises modern plates/dishes giving a clean presentation. Recently my wife has remarked several times that food photography is now apalling and unapetizing and nothing like what we see on TV or in top restuarants (or even at home for me). The examples she showed me have used old dishes with cracked glaze, cracked enamel dishes (I though they came from the 1950's) and typically show food spilling from these. This is not isolated as such images appear in many magazines including Waitrose so there must a a new movement in food photography (scruffy is better). Is anyone in food photography out there and can they explain why this change? Is this led by Photographers or the clients?


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Dave B 15 113 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2012 1:35PM
>> This is not isolated as such images appear in many magazines including Waitrose so there must a a new movement in food photography (scruffy is better).

Well I've not done any food photography however I'd hazard a guess that it's down to the "Times are tough, why hire a pro when young Johnny in accounts has a nice camera and could probably knock something up for us" syndrome? Perhaps combined with a general lowering of the standards felt to be appropriate by young 'up & coming' Art/Picture editors?

Personally speaking I've always felt that food photography in the likes of Sunday colour supplements, monthly 'home & style' type mags etc to be of a very high standard.

Dave B.
JJGEE 12 7.0k 18 England
8 Jun 2012 1:46PM
Suppose a similar comment could be laid at overexposed / out-of-focus ... oops sorry, "High Key" / "Dreamy" fashion photography Wink
Hugo 12 649 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2012 2:51PM
I think it's a style rather than a money thing. Look at the photos in the Jamie Oliver books. Maybe meant to make it feel more "authentic"
Dave_Canon 11 1.3k United Kingdom
8 Jun 2012 3:12PM
Yes, this is not accidental. Interesting that you mention Jamie Oliver in that one visit to one of his restaurants was enough for me it was crowded, noisy and scruffy (a brand new restaurant). However, you may be right in suggesting the photos in Jamie Olivers books are authentic but this does not account for many other magazines such as Waitrose. As I said on the TV chefy programes they take enormous effort to have very clean modern presentations of food and that is also what I see at good restaurants. We seem to have two very distinct approaches to the photography.

robthecamman 6 1.7k United Kingdom
8 Jun 2012 3:30PM
maybe depends on who you see as ur readers people makeing do or rich buggers who cant turn a cooker on haaa
oldblokeh 6 1.2k United Kingdom
8 Jun 2012 3:44PM
I think it might partly be a reaction against the celebrity chef/Masterchef thing. I've heard quite a few negative comments about the amount of handling and fiddling around that goes on to produce that perfectly presented dish. Also, I think that people are becoming increasingly cynical about the way food photos and the like are manufactured, such that a photo resembling something they are more likely to be able to achieve is more likely to make them go out and buy.
RavenTepes 8 226 United States
8 Jun 2012 7:16PM
The problem with great food photography is that many of the dishes that you see on the pictures are completely inedible. Much of the time, raw foods are used, as are plastics, paints, and whatever else they can find to make the end picture look as pleaseing as possible. Most of it is staged, much like a model in make up.
rhol2 6 369 1 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2012 8:26PM
I agree with "oldblokeh"..it appears that supermarkets such as Waitrose are aiming more for a "homely" look to the food. I too dislike the clearly artifical illustrations which appear on much food packaging and advertising.
puertouk 6 1.1k 17 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2012 9:06PM
It's all well and good looking at Michelin star food on a plate, thinking how nice it looks, but how many of us go to Michelin star restaurants? It's just like looking in the fashion mags at these beautiful models who look perfect. As photographers we know it's Photoshop who have made them perfect.

I think a lot of retailers are realising people want to see normal food on a plate, rather than something that never looks like it when we dish it up. When we put a plate of food on the table, it's nothing like a Michelin star restaurant and I for one don't want it. I want good fresh food that tastes great and when I leave the table I am satisfied, not still hungry, as I have been after leaving some "posh" restaurants.
Dave_Canon 11 1.3k United Kingdom
9 Jun 2012 1:44PM
I was hoping that we had a food photographer who knew about the commercial reasons for the change.

As far as restaurants are concerned, I probably eat at a Michelin * restaurant about once a year but I do eat at several chain restuarants (e.g. Carluccios, Ask) and even my local Chain pub and all of these serve food which is given a clean presentation and I would not eat there if they were not. I eat the same way at home but then my wife is way above average in cooking. Do people eat out of old cracked crockery with food spilt everywhere? This is certainly not my experience of eating at friends and relatives either. The impression my wife has is that many of the food photographs are showing food presented in an unapetizing and poor way so where is the sense in this. Normally we tend to show things at close to their best and set good standards or is this all part of the general dumbing down in this country?

joolsb 12 27.1k 38 Switzerland
9 Jun 2012 9:58PM
Keith H. does food photography so maybe we can tempt him out of his hole? If anyone around here knows the answer, it will probably be him....

For my part, I can't say I've noticed the trend. Whenever I see food photography, it's all close-in, differential focus, white background sort of thing. Perhaps that fad is on the way out and messy and unappetizing is coming in.... Wink
Jestertheclown 9 7.6k 252 England
9 Jun 2012 10:35PM
Phill McCordall (Grampy) knows about food photography.

Don't think he comes here very often these days though.

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