Anyone who has tried his hand at photographing food knows that it is certainly not easy. Even more difficult is the styling – the art of arranging food in a manner that the viewer’s eyes stay fixed on the mouth-watering goodies.
If you fall into that category, fear no more! Plate to Pixel, a very informative study on digital food photography and styling, by Hélène Dujardin, may be exactly what you are looking for.
Hélène holds a Masters in History, but her love for food soon guided her to become the pastry chef at a French restaurant, where she helped the staff in styling food and at the same time, honed her photographic skills. In 2006 she launched her award-winning blog ‘Tartlette’, where she discusses food, photography, and styling. She has styled and photographed numerous cookbooks. She loves to work with natural light.
The book, Plate to Pixel, is divided into eight chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 describe basics of photography – apertures, shutter speeds, ISO sensitivity, metering, White Balance, camera shooting modes, et al – very important, cause if your basics are clear, you can concentrate on the more important tasks ahead.
Chapters 3 and 4, describe the quality of natural and artificial light vis-a-vis its strength, direction, and utility. It further discuses studio equipment like soft boxes, radio triggers, remote slaves etc.
Chapter 5 discusses the oft-neglected but very important element in photography – ‘composition’ – the art or science of placing the various elements in their correct positions within the frame. It also covers depth of field, shooting angle, and perspective.
Chapter 6 refers to preparation and organizing your shoot – the work area: location (“…giant space and work table are not required…”; “… several reasons why I prefer to shoot in natural light”); accessibility, planning, and food styling. This was one of the best chapters from my point of view because it taught me a lot about how to go about the preparation; what questions to ask yourself, what to ask from the food stylist (in case someone else is doing the styling); use of simple reflectors etc.
Chapter 7 :’Styling’. There are bound to be occasions when you are the photographer, as well as the stylist. This chapter teaches you how to setup for herbs and spices, bread, nuts, fruits and vegetables, fish, meats, pasta, backed food, cakes, pies, ice creams, hot and cold beverages, and may other helpful tools and tips.
The final chapter, chapter 8, teaches you what needs to be done after the shoot. Though this chapter guides you adequately about post-capture corrections, it is not designed as a tutorial on image editing (there are plenty of books out there on that subject).
Each chapter in the book contains tips and hints that will make your food photography easy and enjoyable. Take time out and study the book, – repeat, study the book, not just read it like a novel! The book is not written or compiled by an ‘armchair author’, but by someone who is passionate about food and styling, someone who loves photography, and one who is a master in her field of work. A good buy indeed!
The book is published by Wiley Publishing, Inc. (www.wiley.com), and is available with Flipkart and all leading bookstores.
MRP: Rs.1330 on Flipkart (www.flipkart.com)
Reviewed by Rohinton Mehta