I live and work in Sydney, which is probably THE number one place in the world when it comes to professional food photography; the major publications in the industry ( those that have survived the digital transformations ) are based here – this is the home of editorial food photography. As a photographer, I too have to constantly keep up to date with the constantly improving technologies; everything is digitalised nowadays, which means, at least once a month, I have to download and install upgrades and plugins, for both the camera and the various display devices I use in my workflow – and i have to learn what they do. It’s time consuming, but it’s necessary: clients expectations are higher and higher, and the competition is tough. One of the biggest issues photographers have to deal with is true color; actually there are multiple issues about color, so let’s see what I am talking about.
This is a typical editorial style image which kinda goes like this: if we pretend for a second that the off white color of the wooden cutting board is 100% neutral, then the main hues here are yellow ( the super spicy habanero chillies ) and yellow-green or apple green ( the plate on the left ), two colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel, and look very harmonious together. And there are different tonalities and shades of these two main colors, coming from the organic cucumber and the leaves at the top. Then we have the blue-green of the mug, salt shaker and enamel plate, which sits right next to the other two colors on the color wheel, making for a pleasing, calm, analogous color scheme. To this I added a couple of ” accent ” colors for extra contrast and to add interest to the image, since my ingredients were really simple. To simplify quite a bit, this is the color scheme I created:
Now, as I was saying, the professional photographer has to deal with a number of issues, to make sure a similar approach is even worth considering, because one thing is what our eyes see, another is what the camera captures, and yet another is what appears on the display.
A part of it also has to do with lighting, because light changes from place to place and ( especially natural light ) is not consistent throughout the day; you see a beautiful fruit at the market and you think it would photograph perfectly against that favorite background of yours, you take it home, you put them together and it doesn’t really work as well as you had envisioned. Ever happened to you?
What do you do? Knowing how to tweak colors is a must for a professional photographer; and you need to have a good eye too, which only comes with a lot of practice.
My work consists mainly of product and advertising photography, and photography for restaurants and venues – exact colors are critical to my clients; often I work on a brief with templates and art work created by graphic designers, where colors are described not by names, but by numbers… it’s almost like a science.
Dario Milano is a professional food photographer and food stylist, based in Sydney and servicing predominantly advertising and commercial clients, restaurants and the food packaging industry.
He also teaches regular food photography and food styling workshop in Sydney, as well as in Melbourne and Brisbane.
To get in contact, email email@example.com