What does Sandwich Photography mean to you?
For me, it’s many hours of preparation and clear down for a few moments of photography. No one said sandwich photography was easy.
Working to the brief, it all starts with a concept and then how to pitch the story. There are many ways to achieve this; brainstorming with the customer; sharing and developing a mood-board; understanding the business culture all help to get ideas drawn up and agreed. Ending up with at least three ideas in mind, it’s time to go shopping for the very best of the best of ingredients. As a result, several stores and many loaves later, we have everything we need and maybe a little bit more.
Working to the sketches, the studio lighting is set and the ingredients prepared in the order they are required Finally, time to assemble and style the food. As a consequence of good planning, it’s possible to capture the killer shot in just a few frames. Also, this provides time to shoot some ad-hoc images while the food is still fresh and looking good.
The more I can do in camera will save time later during post processing.
This image simply required a basic crop and a boost in contrast. To complete, the addition of a detail shot is used to create the final image of the Mega-Sandwich.
However, sometimes the result does not quite match the expectations. In the case of the sandwich conveyor belt image, the background just wasn’t giving us the contrast that showed the ingredients in their full glory. Now post-processing can come into it’s own. Of course, so long as the concept is good in the first place!
It takes time, but it is possible to switch the background out for something else. In this case, a change in colour, more vibrancy that will make the sandwiches pop off the screen or page.
Drag the slider to the left and right to preview the before and after images.
The Sandwich Conveyor Belt
The beauty is, with the hard work complete, we can now choose whatever tone and shade of colour we wish. We decide on a blue/green that suits the customers business identity.
Each snap of the shutter creates a unique image reflecting the beauty of the pour. Take a moment to think about the multitude of variables involved in the simple act of pouring wine into a glass; they are numerous, complex and compound. It is this random element of splash photography that fascinates me… the angle and flow of the pour, the timing of the shot, the curve of the glass and a whole lot more result in a diversity of shapes and swirls of varying translucence as the liquid glances off the surfaces. The usually unseen or barely glimpsed turmoil becomes visible and a natural beauty is captured in an instant that can never be exactly repeated again.
This led me to wonder what would happen if I were to remove the wine glass and just free pour… would it seem like an explosion rather than the usual controlled pour. I drew up a concept sketch, my best guess of what would happen added to what I wanted to achieve. I switched it around 180 degrees to empathise that explosive effect… maybe a touch ambitious but this is my imagination, right?
…that I had presented myself. The outcome was not so far off from my expectations. However, I had not imagined the crystal-like quality of the turbulent wine as it struck and bounced off the surface.
The set-up was basic and based around a small aquarium – the benefit of a glass tank is that the liquid is contained and therefore easy to clean up. Here is a sneak peek behind the scenes.
I found that the result could be used in many ways with the P52 assignment template. I enjoy how by just changing the angles the dynamic and energy of the pour can be affected.
Photograph some high heel shoes! Now, how hard can that be?
I immediately called my fashion-conscious daughter to provide a selection of her favourite heels. I soon realised the design and construction of shoes present a far more complex subject than I had anticipated. The intricate combination of shape, line, curves, and material pose a demanding but ultimately fascinating challenge.
To get the image looking just right, required a more complicated lighting set-up then I would typically use. Introducing a number of speedlites to complement the studio strobes is a great way to add and quickly adjust the fine details with a wink of low-powered light as required.
Adding a splash, introduced a few new challenges. As a glass tank reflects, it’s no longer an easy process to place a light. Also, it was crucial not to water damage these expensive shoes. Problem solving hat on…
The extra effort paid off…
Photographed as part of a Project 52 assignment
Suddenly, it was clear; I had lost sight of the reason for creating a particular image over my desire to create a well composed image. Here’s what I see, hopefully you get the feeling from my sketching. The left shows my final, nicely composed image and the right an attempt that seems more like it’s been thrown together:
In both images, the lost hero is the baseball. It is not immediately obvious, and this is further impacted my my use of an eye-catching but slightly inappropriate prop… The popcorn of course! I have since found that popcorn does not bring back memories of the big baseball game in the same way that peanuts do – my US friends immediately connected with the right image.
…so getting back on track (thanks to my US friends) is very important to me.
Here’s one of my other ideas for the series, it needs work but the hero certainly stands out.
I’m aiming to complete this project within the next couple of weeks where the lost hero will be found. If you are interested, then please choose the option “Notify me of new posts by email” and post a comment at the bottom of this article.
If you would like to view my current work, please visit my Projects page
…but it’s possible to use some basic techniques to solve the problem and use a cloudless sky to your full advantage. Here are five of my favourite methods.
1. Shoot directly at the sun using your subject to partially block the light for that sunflare look.
2. Work a hard edged shadow into the design to add a little extra interest.
3. Shoot in the shade and light up the subject with an opposing white wall or board for that beautiful soft look.
4. Find an old guy hiding in an ancient dark church. In other words, move the set inside and make good use of window light.
5. Create your own shade by stretching out a length of semi-translucent material to defuse the light falling on your subject. No example as, on this particular day, I didn’t use this method.
The takeaways are simple… Pause for a moment to look around, shoot to suit the conditions, get the safe shots (misquoted from Don’s workshop), be prepared to try something different and there really is no one best way but there is your way.
When the P52 assignment “Red Balloon” was posted I already knew I was clean out of stock of these entertaining little rubber bladders! I immediately searched the Internet for some supplies and found a whole host of balloons including those clowning favourites “modelling balloons”. With an idea forming in my head, I ordered a range of colours and sizes, making sure that red was the most numerous.
YouTube, being the great visual resource that it is, has a multitude of tutorials on creating basic balloon flowers. Oh yes, a balloon vase filled with balloon flowers seemed like the perfect idea. I soon found that even the most simple of the instructional videos was beyond me. With much sweating, cussing and many misshapen and exploding balloons later, I conceded. One thing was for sure, following the strict instructions of balloon twisting is not for me. Well, not all was lost, I had learned some basic moves so maybe it was time to go freestyle and forget the rules.
Starting with a backbone and ribs, Balloon Man started to take shape. Arms, legs and joints soon followed! Sure, there was some popping and a little deflation but something was forming; and hey, this was going to be big, super-size even.
Here’s the elements that were used in the finished image.
Today, I can see what I would do differently but this was a great experience that I am unlikely to repeat. However, one should never say “Never” and the lessons learned are simple; you should play to your strengths, bolster your weaknesses and realise there are often alternative routes to your goal.
…the owner of a fabulous showroom of unique, high-quality, restored furniture. You may have noticed I said “with” and that’s exactly how I like small business photography to be; I was working with the client to a common goal. We worked together on the ideas, we worked together to dress the sets and we discussed the future… together. A partnership is motivating for both parties and the results are far more likely to meet the customer’s expectations. Mari is a wonderful creative and restores all of the furniture on-site in the attached workshop. Here are some of the behind the scene images. Other than furniture, there are plenty of other interesting items that proved very useful for dressing the set. For our next shoot, we are looking forward to introducing some models to create more lifestyle images. Not only will this add some scale, it will add fire to the buyers imagination.
It’s a partnership, where we meet in advance of the session. This provides me an understanding of your business and your values and gives us time to sketch out ideas and set our expectations before the day of the shoot.