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Sep 7, 2006 06:31 PM

Question for all you food photographers

How do you reconcile your passion for food photography with your desire to eat hot food? Hot food is really important to me, especially with things like pizza, flatbread and french fries. It seems to me that by the time you get a good picture, the dish would have cooled down quite a bit. Are you just really fast with the camera and really skilled at getting a good shot on the first go? Or do you accept less hot food as an expense of your passion?

And what do you think of Gordon Ramsay's new NY restaurant that will ban cameras?

I've been wondering about this for quite some time.

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  1. Actually, when I photograph food (I do it for a website I maintain) I generally don't get to eat it. Often I spray it with oil or something to make it glisten when I light it. I also tend to take ALOT of pictures so starting with hot food (while nice) is not really neccessary. Some foods need to be photographed almost immediately while others can sit out for some time.

    If I'm out to dinner I usually don't take pictures of my dinner (but, I always have my camera ready because, hey! you never know). I have done pics of wedding cakes and centerpieces for friends and on cruises but they don't really require any special lighting if I'm doing them casually.

    As for G.R.'s new place...well his name is on the door so he can make his own rules. In truth, as a waiter I often find the constant barrage of flash somewhat distracting. But I would never tell someone that they couldn't take pictures of their special occasion meal at my restaurant. God knows, I've probably annoyed enough people over the years with my passion for photography!!

    1. If we're writing about a restaurant, we take photos immediately after our food arrives, so it really only ever delays eating by a minute or so. Plus, by that point we've taken some test shots to establish shutter speed and aperture-- every room is different. We also never use a flash. If you prepare a bit, you won't have to eat cold food.

      Same rules at home, but we can take our time if we want. But eating the food hot should be a priority, especially if you plan to review it.

      As for Gordon Ramsay, I couldn't care less what he does. I've eaten his food in London several times and don't think it's worth the pain of having to suffer through his granstanding and egotism.



      1. Every digital camera I've ever had has given me a few months of grief before finally becoming resigned to the fact that it's going to be used to take pictures of food, not people. It just takes practice. Now I can usually get a respectable shot within one or two snaps.

        The camera is set before the food gets to the table, and clicking twice doesn't take very long at all. If the food's very steamy (a soup) it's harder to get a good shot, but I'm willing to simultaneously blow the steam aside and click the camera.

        As for Ramsey, whatever. I once had someone in a small tea house (Samovar in SF) tell me photography was prohibited. I was the only one eating so I couldn't tell who I was disturbing, but I guess they didn't want the secret of their miso seared steak over a salad of baby greens to escape to the world.

        1. I used to work as a food stylist and can tell you that much of what you see in a photo may look appealing but you would not want it in your mouth.

          Have a look here:

          1. I think it's possible to capture the food in a photo AND enjoy hot food. At restaurants (like Incanto, Manresa, any of the Viet food excursions, etc), I usually only take one quick photo of each dish. Not only do I want to enjoy the food as intended, but I don't want to delay or annoy my dining companions too much.

            It doesn't take that much time at all, plus I think it's VERY important to pause and appreciate the visual appeal of the dish and ooh and aah before devouring it. Sometimes food can even be too hot when it arrives, so it can be an opportune time to snap a photo.

            I have a small digital camera that I put on automatic settings, so I don't fuss w/ getting the perfect shot. If the lighting is really dim so that I have to use flash or taking a photo just doesn't feel "right", I just forego the photo; no big deal.

            At home may be slightly different since it's just me and husband, so I take more liberties and can make a fool of myself. Sometimes he'll just start eating first while I take a few moments to capture just the right angle or mood of what's on my plate. He's become quite accustomed to this by now, but I try to not get too crazy since I want to eat WITH him.

            Oh, and I don't believe in food styling (ie, all the weird enhancements professional food stylists implement) at home. I present the food as I normally would, take the photo from the best angle, and then eat what's on the plate. I like the fact that my food doesn't look overly primped.

            Here's a photo of a BST (bacon, spinach & tomato) sandwich we ate last night for dinner:
            Morton, you will be happy to know that that's Fatted Calf bacon peeking out from under the tomato.

            As far as Ramsay, I have no problem w/ his policy to ban cameras. It's his restaurant and he can do as he wishes. I can guess why, but has he elaborated on the reasons behind this policy?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Carb Lover

              I'm still learning to use the camera, so I take just a few shots and cross my fingers. I also try to shut off the flash when I can. :)

              As for Ramsay's policy, I don't agree with it (it really only take a few seconds to snap my shots) but I agree, if it's the policy of the restuarant, then I can understand...