Jo Avila

One Shot Should Be Enough

A lot of work goes into food photography. The simplest shot can actually entail a lot of hard work that isn’t necessarily seen in the image.

My funniest experience in food photography happened more than ten years ago.

Digital photography was at its infancy in the industry. I was called in to shoot several layouts spreads. The art director had very specific instructions about how he wanted the food photographed. He wanted all shots to be overhead and the light had to come in from a diagonal angle from the upper left hand corner of the frame.

The art director and food stylist spent thirty minutes setting up the food on the table. I set up the camera overhead and set up the lighting according to what the art director specified.

My camera was tethered to my laptop and I took one shot and asked the art director for his feedback.

He approved the shot. I told him to clear the shooting table and set up for the next shot.

The art director was flabbergasted because of all the hard work that they had put into setting up the shot.

“Only one test shot? Won’t you take an actual shot?”

I had to remind him that I wasn’t shooting on film. He was used to approving a Polaroid test shot before the actual shot would be captured on film.

“I’m using a digital camera. We only have to take one shot if you approve of the first test shot. But I’ll take two more shots and bracket my exposure if it makes you happy.”

We continued this way for several more hours. He and the food stylist would spend half an hour setting up the food and I would take one shot which he would approve, I would then take a couple of more shots to bracket my exposure just to appease him.

I’m so happy now that digital photography has been accepted and art directors have no qualms if the job can be accomplished in one shot.

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