What to expect at a professional food or product photo shoot – Part 3

Many of my clients are entrepreneurs and have never been to a professional photo shoot before. So, I thought that I would write a few blog posts on what happens before, during and after a photo shoot as a guide for the newbies. Here is part 3…


You will get the best images if you are on set and voicing your opinion. The photographer will set up the the surface, background and lights on the set, using a stand-in to get the lighting correct. The team will set up the props. Discuss props beforehand. A “PROP STYLISTS” may be necessary if props are an integral part of the shot. Props can tell a story, point to a hero or frame the image.  Props are supporting actors to the hero. Only props that support the hero should be used. Avoid unnecessary clutter.

The camera should be tethered (cable or wireless) to a computer or other device with a larger screen. Please make sure you are viewing the image straight on…if you are at an angle, you may not see the correct brightness and contrast. While the image on the screen should be good, it is unedited. If you think something is too dark, too light, too blurry, not blurry enough or whatever, now is the time to speak up. Be confident that if the photographer says that he or she can fix the in post (post processing), it can be fixed but, remember what you want them to do since they may forget. And if they do forget, a gentle reminder wouldn’t be a problem.

With the aid of the creative team, the photographer/stylist will find the best angle, adjust the composition, re-position the food, re-position the lights, move crumbs around over and over again until they feel that it’s the best that it can be. When the photographer shoots something that you like or something that you don’t like, let him know. He is there to please you but can’t do that if you don’t provide input. On the other hand, the creative team has a lot of experience doing this. Allow them to make the suggestions.

When the shoot is finished, images must be processed…not like in the days of film but, a digital process. Post processing may adjust color, contrast, brightness and retouching of the final image…This could take a week or more if the team is busy.  Ask when to expect the finalized images but, be patient.

One more thing to keep in mind. Sometimes, it is just impossible in a particular circumstance to get things the way you want. Let’s say you like napkin in the image but, it is reflecting in the glass dish. Ask the photographer to take it with and without the napkin and composite the two images together. Be aware that there may be an additional charge for that so ask if that is a concern.

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About Jerry

I was a science teacher for 31 years. During that time I photographed wedding and Bar Mitzvahs for about 15 years but that was in the days before digital. Being a teacher, I had my summers free so I assisted food and commercial still life photographers in NYC for 3 summers and fell in love with it. Having a wife and a mortgage, it was not practical to give up a job in teaching and go into photography so I put off my dream of becoming a food photographer until I retired from teaching. Now I am living my dream - I am a food and product photographer servicing New York City, Philadelphia and all of New Jersey.
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