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Food and Drink Photography - Part 2

Part 2 of 2

Read part 1 of my food and drink photography information, which includes the reasons to use a food photographer, what I provide during a shoot, and things for you to do in preparation for, and during, a shoot.  

Here I cover what happens on the day of the shoot, what happens after a shoot, and also briefly answer a few common questions regarding things such as the price and how long photoshoots take.

On the Day of the Shoot

I would normally arrive at least an hour before any food is ready. Setting the surface, arranging the lights and putting the props in place will take at least 60 min. Parking the car is an important consideration, especially when restrictions are in place. There may be many items required for the day which will need to be brought from my vehicle, so ideally it should not be far away. Please arrange for close a parking space if this is possible.

The chef, or whoever is in charge, needs to be responsible for communication and delivery of a schedule that allows a break of a few minutes between each dish unless they have to be photographed together. Each dish can take a few minutes to photograph, or it can take an hour if it requires numerous changes. For example, a steak may be correctly cooked, but the marking can be uneven and require the application of a red hot skewer. Sadly, when something as special as a steak is photographed, it has to be perfect, so a few steaks may be required to get the perfect shot. This rigorous quality control is dictated by you, the client, but the cost of another steak shall be a small cost compared to the overall cost of the shoot and, remember, an imperfect image is there forever!

Food that is photographed shall, in the most part, be perfectly ok to consume, as all handling shall be safe as I am trained in Food Hygeine and always aware that a food preperation area has to be respected.

Can Photos of Different Plates of Food Be Combined to Make a Composite Image?

If there are group shots required, careful planning can be used to create composite images that are made up of a number of dishes freshly prepared and made to look as if they are a large spread saving time and cost, this needs to be planned but is certainly worth consideration for the master images on a website or menu cover, for example.

Will I Be Able To View the Photos as They Are Taken?

As the shoot is progressing images can be viewed in-camera. However, the post-production final images shall take skilled processing and enhancement, which can often take as long as the images take to photograph. The removal of spills, smudges and slight defects in the food all add up to produce a final perfect image so the inclusive fee agreed shall actually be for a time of at least another day.

The difference between OK and wonderful is often the extra time spent with the image of a dish that has all the imperfections removed but keeps the textures and real quality so that it still looks totally real.  I explain in a little more detail below.

After the Shoot

The images are processed and the final collection is delivered to the client as low-resolution Jpeg proofs. As the editing takes place, we process the best of the images so a final retouched TIFF file is archived at the highest 8K resolution. These are then sent to you as the selects at the agreed sizes, which is usually 4k Jpegs for website use and a smaller image for social media. If large display prints are required then a file is created for the printer with an appropriate technical spec, usually as a TIFF (RGB Abobe) file.

Common Questions

How Much Does a Food Photograhy Session Cost?

The cost for a session varies depending on the type of shoot.  Menu photography usually starts at  £250 but shoots for a website, for example, may take two days and start at £500. Basic surfaces and props are supplied. However, special props and materials may require hiring, creating or purchasing. These shall be agreed upon before the shoot and reference samples sent to you.

How Long Does a Photography Session Last?

A food photography session usually takes about 45 minutes to set up the surface, lighting and camera with the correct lens. It can be faster if there is natural lighting or other continuous light that is suitable.


The shoot can take all day, but normally a session of four hours should capture a reasonable menu. However, if the photography is for a package it may take hours to get one image, checking that everything on set is right so that the space for graphics and wrapping is considered. In some circumstances, a mock-up may be printed so that the folding and graphics can be seen in context. A book cover also may require more time as it has to provide the space for the title, author, blurb and that sort of thing.

Do I Get to Preview the Food Images During the Photo Session?

As my client, it is very important that you are happy with the way a photography shoot is going. Seeing an image immediately after it is taken is what everybody expects in this digital age. It does, however, depend on the set-up and type of photography or videography taking place. If I am working in a dedicated studio, with controlled lighting, a computer and calibrated monitor on set, and ideally having a digital assistant to archive the files as they are shot, then a detailed blow-up of the images captured is the way to best demonstrate the work. When there is limited space, a tight schedule and a budget restraint, then I will share the images that the camera can display.  Even then for technical reasons, the images are not going to look anything as good as they will after they are processed. It is the detail and post-production editing that shall be used to produce a well-balanced and sharp image, maybe after as much as an hour has gone into getting the very best from the RAW file (the highest quality format that you can capture an image).

Do You Need and Have Insurance for Attending a Photo shoot?

Insurance is very important and indeed I have personal liability cover when visiting your place of work to undertake a shoot. It is common for me to have increased PL cover when visiting high-value locations. I also have separate insurance cover for props should a breakage occurs during the photo shoot. If you would like details then I am happy to talk about it when we discuss your shoot.

Are You a Food Stylist as Well as a Photographer?

As a former chef and experienced photographer, I would like to think that I can deliver excellent food photography, but the food should be produced in the same way it shall be delivered to the client. A chef should ensure that the presentation is as perfect as it can be, especially if it is his or her restaurant. However, if the product is an ingredient it would be usual to employ a food stylist, presenting the ingredient(s) in the best way.  When there are products such as BBQ ranges and cookware, I have not only photographed and styled the image but have also cooked the food. This is, perhaps, where I cross over into the realm of being a food stylist.  That said, in an ideal world, chefs shall cook and present the perfect dish, a stylist will provide the props and dress an ideal set and a photographer shall capture the best possible food photography with beautiful lighting and high-resolution captures on a professional quality camera.   Read more information on what a food stylist is here.

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