How do you create food and still life images that end up in magazines and advertisements? Leslie Grow knows. Her style is bright, vibrant, and minimalistic, and she loves experimenting with bold pops of color and lighting. Here are her tips, techniques and the gear she uses to create three food and still life images.
Lighting up the colorful and frozen berries
Step 1. Freeze berries the night before shooting by laying them out on a sheet pan in a single layer. Try to make sure they are not touching one other. Look for hero sides and place them face up.
Step 2. Set up the camera on a tripod in the overhead position.
Step 3. Place a Profoto D2 light to camera right, about 3 feet from the subject. Bounce it into a 20”x30” white foam board. Place the foam board about 1.5-2 feet from the light.
Step 4. Use a large black V-Flat camera left to darken the shadows.
Step 5. When the berries are completely frozen, work quickly to position them and to avoid ﬁngerprints. The frost will appear after they’ve been taken out of the freezer, within about a minute.
To encourage the defrosted look, softly blow into a straw over those areas.
Freezing a splash of champagne
Step 1. Set Profoto D2 camera left as a side light and select “Freeze Mode” in settings.
Step 2. To freeze action shots like this, keep the power level low to allow for a fast ﬂash duration and recycle time.
Step 3. Move the background far enough away from the subject so that it is blurred out and won’t compete with the details of the splash. Use an aperture that keeps the background blurry but the subject in focus, such as 5.6-8.
Step 4. Use a white foam board to camera right to ﬁll in the shadows.
Step 5. To create an evenly spread soft light, use any type of diﬀusion material such as a Lee Filter or Scrim Jim fabric. You’ll need roughly 4x4 to 6x6 ft to create a large light source.
Use a remote trigger to capture quickly and continuously.
Emphasize specular highlights in shiny objects
Step 1. Place a bare bulb D2 light camera left at 45 degrees behind the subject. This will cast hard dark shadows and emphasize specular highlights on shiny objects.
Step 2. Choose a depth of ﬁeld (such as 5.6-8) that brings focus to the main subject without sacriﬁcing important details in the foreground or background. For instance, the branding label on the bottle is blurred but legible.
Step 3. Use supporting props that have unique shapes, colors, and textures to add to the overall scene.
Collaborating with professional food and prop stylists brings another layer of creativity to the image.