The Caterers Corner
say "cheese!": food that looks good on camera? Caterers Corner: say "cheese!": food that looks good on camera?
By Mortarandpestle (Mortarandpestle) on Thursday, January 09, 2003 - 06:54 pm: Edit

Hello~this is my first post....but i've been lurking for a few months. My husband & I have had our own off-premise catering company for almost 6 years now and we just were offered an opportunity to be on our local news channel. They are having a three-day special about weddings and hosting a competition for 3 event designers to redo a room and then the viewers call in to vote for their favorite.

We haven't come up with a theme yet (I'm going tonight to check out the space and get all the details) but we wanted to showcase some food....maybe pre-set salads at the place settings and a buffet in the background....i know that certain colors look good on camera, but what about certain foods?

when we were putting together our company portfolio I noticed that sometimes food doesn't photograph well at all and I had a proffesional photographer tell me once that when the culinary magazines do photo sessions it's usually not even REAL food they are shooting!

Has anyone seen their food on tv? is there anything i should know?


By George (George) on Thursday, January 09, 2003 - 08:19 pm: Edit

Did I pay you to post this? What a segue! (just kidding)

It just so happens I have few food photos in this months National Culinary Review from the Chefs Championships. Heres a link to them- on my site.
They are pretty good here but look MUCH better in print. A real pro worked on them in a graphics program, not me.

To shot them I used a set of light on either side of each plate, a strobe directly at the plate, and a tripod. And I got each plate within 5 minutes of the time it was made.

There two problem with doing what you want to do.

#1 is lighting. There is no way you could light the food properly and have the room look right without professional help and big bucks.

#2 is time. Real food gets ugly pretty fast.

I'd suggest doing some great tables with perhaps a display crudités (lots of veg and fruit to decorate the table with height) and maybe a tray or two of your best looking cold hors'd coated with aspect (sp) or gelatin in a strategic spot if you can identify one.

Try to light the tables to feature the center pieces or what ever is most colorful on the table and feature the crudite and hor's d.

Lighting is everything.

Hope this helps.


By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Thursday, January 09, 2003 - 09:59 pm: Edit

I've never had anything on TV, but some of my stuff was in a video game type thing (I am not really sure what to call it). George's comment about lighting was certainly true in that circumstance. I ended up with pastas and salads on the plates and nice fruit and flower combination arrangements on the table. The more color the better and effective use of candles.

Since it was my first (and only) experience with movie cameras, the director was kind enough to let me work through the lense and adjust my food until we both liked the effect. After the film was made, they computerized it and it turned out kind of funky, but in the original movie, it looked great. The food was way too oily to eat, but it "sparkled real pretty" LOL

If they will let you, and I don't know the rules about this sort of thing, but a little dry ice hidden in a plate to similate steam is cool if the cameras aren't going to be on for long.

As you can tell I am not into this in a professional way... just a few ideas, from the sticks, as it were. :>)

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Friday, January 10, 2003 - 09:44 am: Edit

Remember that these news segments pan over whatever food is displayed for about 5 seconds-at the most, unless you are doing some kind of demo. Keep it simple-fussy food with lots of little pieces and props just looks like a busy mess of stuff. Make sure everything is easily identifiable within a 1/2 second viewing. If it's a wedding segment, a spectacular cake is always a good idea. Stay away from a lot of white (which glares under the lights), browns and beiges (looks like baby poop), creamy stuff and tiny chopped-up stuff (video makes it look jittery and jumpy).
For your brochures, showing happy people having a good time sells catering events better than pictures of huge spreads of food. Haven't we all seen enough crudite, fruit and cheese platters to last a life time? Anything else, and people go "What IS that?" Best not to confuse potential clients with bitsy food when what you are selling is really superlative service, lack of worry and a good time.
If you want to showcase your food, spend the bucks, hire a good food photographer and stylist and spend some time in the studio. Don't let your chef near the shoot unless you want "cheffy" looking stuff that will elicit, again, "What IS that?!?" BTW, the food in magazines is NOT fake, it's real stuff prepped according to the published recipes. Food photographers and stylists really understand light, camera angle, complimentary color and design in a way that most food professionals don't. Trust their expertise and you will end up with a product you'll be happy with for a long time.

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