Happy Thanksgiving

This week is a week of cooking…strangely enough for a food photographer, something that I don’t particularly care to do. Perhaps I should photograph tomorrow’s turkey. Not if it looks like last year’s :)

That is why I always prefer to work with a food stylist. As someone has said, “Shooting food photography without a food stylist is like making a movie without a make up artist.”

I am thankful for many things in my personal life. Professionally however, I am thankful that I work with wonderful clients – both food and product photography clients – and that I have found extremely talented food stylists that make me look good.

So, I am taking this moment to say thank you. Have a great holiday.

Please visit my portfolio at www.photography-by-jerry.com and I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I did shooting it. My latest photo book can be seen HERE. You can always contact me by e-mail at jerry@photography-by-jerry.com. Thanks for reading.

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Chocolate – a topic that is dear to my heart.

ToH Chocolateday is National Chocolate Day. Whether it’s milk, dark or even white, I wish you the chocolate of your dreams. Chocolate Swirl

Chocolate is a topic that is very dear to my heart. I am a chocoholic. At least I was until my health told me I have to cut it out. I found out that I am diabetic. So now, I am limited to sugar free chocolate. Now don’t get me wrong, I CHEAT! Every day I have a square of dark chocolate and I have sugar free chocolate as often as I can. Another health issue was that I have GIRD, also known as reflux. If I have chocolate at night, I will suffer that night…even with all the meds.

White truffle Hi Res Color CorrectedSo, what does all this have to do with my photography career. I’ve always felt that it was a punishment that my biggest clients all have to do with chocolate. I work for two chocolate manufacturers and two baking companies. I am surrounded by chocolate and some of what we don’t shoot sits in my pantry…taunting me. Can you taste it?

I have to take solace in the fact that not only do I love to eat chocolate, but I also love to photograph it. Chocolate is tough! It is amazing what you don’t see with the naked eye that the camera picks up…every scratch, blemish and fingerprint. A food stylist works wonders in preparing chocolate for the camera. What is left is give to Photoshop. The result is a beautiful portrait of something delicious. I love my job!

H ruggie tray Chocolate Line Up Ver 2
H Dark Cnoc Alfores0169 H Choc Bars

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A Feature by Thumbtack

Thumbtack Spotlight

My Thumbtack profile

Jerry Deutsch is a professional still-life and product photographer specializing in food photography. He can fulfill all of your photographic needs in his New Jersey studio or on location at your site. Photography by Jerry, LLC services all of New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York City. Below, Jerry tells us why he enjoys doing his work.

What do you love about your job?

I love several things about my job. First, I love meeting the creative people who are producing the products that I photograph. Second, I enjoy giving the client more than they have hoped for and having them say, “Awesome!”

Who inspired you to start your own business?

I was an assistant for commercial still life photographers in the summers during the 80s, and I fell in love with photography. However, as my mentor told me, there is no such thing as a weekend commercial photographer, and my full-time teaching job paid the bills. As soon as I retired from teaching, I started my commercial business, and now, I am pursuing my dream.

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Food Photography tips for beginners – a blog post for Blurb

After publishing and printing my blurb book, I was approached by blurb to do a blog post for them on food photography. Here is what I gave them:

We use all of our senses when eating. We eat with our eyes first. We anticipate what our experience is going to be at first sight. Then we use taste and smell of course. But the texture of food, the sounds it makes are just as important. All of the senses have to be indulged when looking at a food photo. The photographer has to draw on memories of the viewer and use a two dimensional image to create a sense of taste, smell, texture and sound. In addition, the photographer has to tell a story and draw on the emotions of the viewer. Food photography is not easy.

The task is a little easier if you start with beautiful food but not all food is beautiful. Much of the time, it is brown mush. When the food is beautiful, show its beauty and do not distract from it. If the food itself is not a work of art on the plate, use props and of course light to make it beautiful.

roasted tomato salad

Find the image within the image.

Many photographers just starting out simply point the camera at the food and accept what the camera records. But, this may not be what the photographer has seen through their mind’s eye. Once the plate is placed in front of you, the work begins. Here are some tips that for beginning food photographer that will greatly improve his or her images.

1) Don’t use the on-camera flash.

Light coming straight at the food from the direction of the camera is not flattering. Place the food near a window and have the light come in from behind or to the side. Using a tripod helps tremendously. If you use the clock analogy, with the food in the center of the clock and the camera at 6 o’clock, the light should be coming from somewhere between 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock (or 3 o’clock and 12 o’clock).

2) The bigger the window, the better the light but, don’t use direct sunlight. Direct sunlight causes harsh shadows and high contrast.

Filter the light or use indirect sunlight. A white translucent shower curtain makes a good filter.  A white reflector card can be used on the opposite side of the food to lighten the shadows. You can even use mirrors to create highlights but be careful and don’t over do it.

pastries and coffee from above

Shoot from above if your food does not have height and is graphical.

3) If your food has texture, show it. Light from the side and show the texture. Shadows show textures so don’t be afraid of shadows. Keep shadows soft by using reflectors and large light sources. Harsh, dark shadows are usually not pleasing (although there are always exceptions.)

mushrooms three ways.

Show height with a low point of view.

4) If your food has height, show it. Shoot at a low camera angle. If your food is flat, but graphical, shoot from above. If you can’t decide, try shooting from a diner’s point of view. Shoot if from all points of view.

5) Watch your background and make sure that it doesn’t take away from what you want to say in your image. Your photo has one hero and that hero should be the food-not the props or the background. Don’t overdo props. Props are supporting characters for your hero. If the prop does not bring your attention to the hero or the story you are telling, you don’t need it. It is just a distractor.


Keep your props and color palette simple.

6) Carefully consider your colors. Colors of the background and props should compliment the food. Choose your plate carefully. Don’t let patterns on your plate distract from your hero. A white plate is usually a safe bet.

7) Depth of field is important…do you want to show detail from front to back or do you want to blur backgrounds to direct the viewer’s eye. You control depth of field with your aperture so I never let the camera pick the aperture. Shoot in Manual mode (M) or Aperture priority (Av on Canon or A on Nikon). If you have shallow depth of field (large aperture), be careful of out of focus subjects in front of the hero. These tend to create a barrier and block the eye from exploring the image. Keep out of focus foreground subjects in the corners and on the edges.

pickled beet salad

Use a shallow depth of field to direct the viewer’s eye.

8) Use all of the compositional tools to make the food your hero. These include depth of field, leading lines, cropping, curves, balance and color. You want the view to look at the food, not the napkin, the fork or the background.

9) Food must always look fresh. This may require you to undercook to prevent drying out, brushing on water or oil to keep it looking moist, spraying with water to make it look fresh. Nothing makes a hamburger look worse than dry meat and wilted lettuce.

10) Work the subject, change your angle and change your distance. You will be surprised at what you find when you come in closer and find the image within the image.



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Taking your food photography to the next level

What do you do with time on your hands and a credit at Blurb? You write a book of course. Based on the the most common comments made at our Food Photography Critique site on Facebook, I compiled a list of helpful hints and put them into a Blurb book with images to illustrate the concepts.

blurb Food Photography

Fine Tune Food Photos

This book is designed for beginning food photographers and food bloggers that have started their craft but now need some tips to get their images to the next level.

Fine Tuning Your Food Photos by Jerry Deutsch

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Time to Upgrade

I’ve been looking into upgrading to a medium format camera for some time now but, my business didn’t warrant that large a format – especially at that high a cost…very high cost. But, Canon has raised the bar for the Digital SLR and came out with a new series of cameras that are extremely sharp at 50 Megapixels. So, of course, I had to order the Canon EOS 5DS-R. I was intrigued by the fact that they have removed the effects of the high pass filter, one of the things that made the medium format cameras so sharp. Don’t get me wrong, I know that the sensor is much smaller and will not have the dynamic range of a medium format camera but, I think it will be an improvement over the 5DMark II.

I pre-ordered from B&H Photo and Video and I’ve been waiting and waiting for delivery. Well, it finally arrived yesterday  I studied the new features, ran some tests and even upgraded my software so I can use the new camera in the studio. So, now, I am ready to rock and roll. 

When I get the chance, I’ll do some photos with the new camera and show you the results.

Please visit my new portfolio at www.photography-by-jerry.com and I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I did shooting it. My latest photo book can be seen HERE. You can always contact me by e-mail at jerry@photography-by-jerry.com. Thanks for reading.

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Vacation Expectation

TangineI just went on a great trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. I got some great photographs and memories. But, as a food photographer, I am expected to take photos of food in these countries. Bread, Olives and CucumbersWell, I was on a tour and with my wife and six friends and a full bus of people. Dinners were always in large groups. I really did not have an opportunity to shoot food, the way I would like to or am expected to. That being said, I did get a few shots that I thought I would share with you. I can also share all of my vacation photos of Spain as well as those in Portugal and Morocco. (I needed two photo books for this trip…sorry. Just be happy that I am not showing your the 939 images that I narrowed down to.)

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