Category: Food

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.

Sandwich Photography Behind the Scenes

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.

Sandwich Photography

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.

“They need something that SCREAMS Chocolate!”

Where do you go with a brief like that? Food photography is my passion, and there are many options to choose from… lifestyle, still-life, extreme close-up, the list goes on. With the freedom to do my own thing then why not go bold, with a large helping of impact, rather than take a well trodden path to food photography?

“…search out the best quality and most fresh ingredients, hand picking only the most perfect of items”

To start, I always think about the hero of the image, and in this case I have free reign; an idea formulates immediately!  Just recently, I have been helping an ice cream producer to improve their in-house images and they just so happen to make the most delicious Belgian chocolate variety. The texture and colour are perfect.

That leaves me to search for the props. During my journey to find other chocolate produce, I keep in mind an important aspect of great food photography, to search out the best quality and most fresh ingredients, hand picking only the most perfect of items.

I am now in procession of more chocolate than at any other time in my life.  As I start unwrapping, melting, pouring and posing each of the items, the room, NO, the building, is filled with the appetizing aroma of cocoa. What an enjoyable environment to work in but I need to break from the camera to start assembling my ideas into what will be the first draft of the image.

Food Photography - Chocolate Galaxy First Draft

Food Photography – Chocolate Galaxy First Draft – John McAllister

It’s almost there, I can see what’s working and what is amiss… I have more product to photograph and I know exactly what I need. Chocolate is an amazing and versatile subject to work with; solid and shiny, creating dust clouds from powder, and then “Wow!” it comes together; that’s it, DONE!

Food Photography - Chocolate Galaxy

Food Photography – Chocolate Galaxy – John McAllister

Here’s a before and after view, just drag the slider left and right to compare the draft to the final image


This is My Chocolate Galaxy, food photography with impact…

…and if it doesn’t scream chocolate to you then I’ll take solace in a rather large bowl of ice cream sprinkled with all sorts of chocolaty delights.

Oh my, another idea has just sprung to mind!

The Art of Dining Out

As a photographer, I am keenly interested in how images help persuade me when, where and how to spend my hard earned cash.

I travel on a regular basis and I like my food. Unfortunately, the two rarely mix well , so I’m continually searching for great locations for dining out. If practical, I’ll ask a friend or colleague for a referral and often, I’ll brave searching my favoured online advisers. Once I have my dining out shortlist, I almost always visit each restaurant’s website to get directions, check the menu and scan the prices so that I won’t be too surprised when presented with the bill!

So why do I choose one restaurant over another?

In order of preference, I would say…
1. Value for money
2. Perception of quality (Referrals/Reviews/Website)
3. My food preference
4. The location

Of course, everyone’s priorities differ! With that in mind, I have included links to several relevant articles that I found interesting and I hope you will too.

40 Tasty Restaurant Websites to Inspire You
Since the main content of a restaurant is their food – or at least it should be – there is no better thing to do than show beautiful images of the food…

An Excellent Series of Marketing Articles
From “Strategies to Help Google Find Your Restaurant” to “How to Incorporate Your Restaurant Website into Your Customer’s Experience”

The Art of Food Photography
They say a picture paints a thousand words. But it can also tempt the appetites of millions of hungry customers…

Restaurant Marketing: What Do You Need?
This is the second article in a five-part series that details exactly what you need to market your restaurant and make it a success.

Triggering Taste Buds Through Imagery
Considering the incredibly competitive nature of the restaurant industry, maintaining a steady flow of foot traffic can be a tall order, especially since the dining experience begins long before a customer walks through a restaurant’s doors.

Restaurant Statistics
Find out some interesting (and not so interesting) stats about the restaurant industry, you may be surprised!


I certainly did enjoy taking in the sights…

…cuisine and culture of Bucharest, and what a cultured city it is.

Firstly, the food… I had already scouted out a few good restaurants so when we mistakenly stumbled upon ‘the Artist’ it was a relief to break for lunch away from the midday sun. The staff are fabulous, the chef is a genius, and the food is divine.

Lunch at the Artist Restaurant - Bucharest Lunch at the Artist Restaurant - BucharestIt was so enjoyable that we vowed to come back…

…later that week for an evening meal (and so we did, but I recommend you book to ensure you get in)

There is a great selection of coffee shops in Bucharest with influences from France and Italy. In fact, we enjoyed tracking down out of the way cafés as well as the popular ones including ‘Camera din Fata‘, ‘Origo‘ and a three out of six of the ‘ Chocolat’ boutiques (just look at their menu to see why we visited three times).

Chocolate Cake Time - BucharestThat’s just the eating, and having so many great places to regain our energy allowed us to explore the many of Bucharest’s museums, galleries, government buildings, parks, theatres , monuments and the old city.

What a fun weekend playing with water during the short time the sun showed it’s face.

It all started as an idea, here’s a sketch of my original concept.

Concept Sketch Wet

So how to achieve this in a photo?

I don’t mind water but to get this right would require many shots and as many changes of clothes.

First things first, let’s get the water right. Aiming the garden hose at a sheet of Perspex just didn’t work; this created way too much spray, and other than soaking the camera (and photographer) it would be almost impossible to isolate the splash from the background.

Spray Hose Splash

Eventually, I tried a small bucket of water. This proved far more effective and created interesting shapes as it arced through the air, even the splash was more controlled.

Splash Bucket

At the computer, it was fairly easy to isolate the water using Photoshop.

Bucket Splash Cutout

Almost there but the background could be better, then I looked up at that clear’ish blue sky, just the job!

Bucket Splash in Sky

Back to Photoshop for a little experimentation… I had a substitute image to practice on, a lovely red apple that I’d shot a day or so before. I bit of Photoshop layer masking / blending and a filter or two later, and here are the final Apple Splash images.

Wet Apple Splash

Making Apple Splash has been fun with surprisingly effective results. I hope I will be able to use my new found techniques and do the original concept some justice. Click on any image on this page for a closer view or click here to see even bigger photos on my Flickr site.

**Update: Kept with the red apple theme for the assignment submission but will try to complete the original concept in the near future

Red Apple Splash in a Globe