Brooks Short - Tampa, Florida , Oct 31, 2004; 10:14 p.m.
For this theme I'm showing the final images with all the lighting and styling already completed, but the shoot starts with the client choosing a plate or surface and the stylist preparing sample or stand-in food which will be used for deciding perspective, lens choice and lighting. Once these decisions have been made the final "Hero" food is prepared and photographed.
When doing the lighting, I always start with the Key light. The Key light is the main light and it's placement determines where the highlights and shadows fall. Careful placement of the highlights and shadows creates a three dimensional quality to the items being photographed.
Almost always, in food photography, especially with "food on a plate" shots, a form of short lighting is used. Short lighting is placing the Key light to one side or overhead or a combination of the two, and slightly behind the subject so that the shadows are directed towards the lens.
In this shot the Key light, which is a small 2'x3' softbox, is on the right side of the scene and slightly behind the subject about 2 ft. away. You can see the strong highlight and shadow modeling on the burger and the back lighting on the french fries that this light position provides. Imagine how much flatter the lighting would be if this Key light was moved around to the front of the set.