Food Photography in both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh this week!

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 25, 2013

I have a fun week of food photography happening this week. First, I’ll be traveling to Cincinnati for a shoot with some GREAT clients (LaRosa’s) and then it’s back to Pittsburgh for a two day shoot with another Great Client! (Rich’s) It just doesn’t get much better than this! I’ll be posting some sample shots from both the Cincinnati and Pittsburgh studio shoots. Stay tuned!!!!

Taking my food photography equipment on location is no easy task, but lately I’ve made great strides to make things much more portable, so I’m looking forward to this trip to “shake things out” so to speak… I’ll let you know how it goes!

Food Photography for Packaging

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 21, 2013

I’m excited. I just got permission that I could share you with you a few food photography samples of a recent six day packaging shoot I did with some really great clients, Ian’s. The shoot went really well and we got some really great stuff. It’s funny, so much of food photography is shooting really simple photos, but the simplicity is REALLY deceiving… With food photography, simple is not as easy as it looks and with packaging, it’s all about simplicity. You need to light the food so that it JUMPS off the package, and it can’t be too moody or too anything, except too beautiful!

In a previous post about food photography, I talked about the kinds of photography that an editorial food photographer could and couldn’t do well. Packaging food photography a great example of the kind of photography that an editorial food photographer would fall flat on his face, shooting… Probably… :o) Would you want to risk it?

packaging food photography

Packaging Food Photography

Food photography for packaging

I love being a Pittsburgh Food Photographer!

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 21, 2013

Really… I have to have the very best job, not only in Pittsburgh, but the whole wide world! They pay me to take pictures of food for a living! It is probably on of the best jobs imaginable, and I thank God every day for the good fortune of doing what I truly love.

Here’s a sample of one of my favorite shots and one of the reasons I like being a food photographer. I think I like it mostly for the color pallet, the selective focus and the dream-like feel of the shot. This is definitely a good example of editorial food photography and maybe that’s why I like it so much, I’m just not sure…

Food Photography in Pittsburgh

One of my favorite food photographs

Before I go, I just wanted to thank all my clients, current, past and future, for helping me fulfill my dreams. It’s been a great run so far and I hope I’ve given back as much as I received. Thank you, thank you, thank you… :o)

Pittsburgh Food Photographer

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 21, 2013

Pittsburgh Food Photographer Michael Ray

If you’re reading this, you probably already know about my food photography, but you may not know me, and you might be interested in learning more about me.

My name is Michael Ray, and I’m a Pittsburgh based food photographer. I’ve been shooting food for many years and have a client list containing some very prestigious food manufacturers, restaurants, and various food related publications locally and around the country.

I do most of my food photography in my 4500 square foot studio located in the Strip District of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, USA. For a food photography studio, it’s just about perfect! I have a fully equipped kitchen with plenty of room to shoot multiple setups, if necessary, and plenty of comfortable room for clients to work and multi-task during our shooting session.

Over the years, I’d say that 90% of my food photography work has been done in the studio and the other 10% is on location. That number seems to be changing a little and I tend to be shooting more and more on location. The reason I’ve always preferred the studio is because in the studio, I have EVERYTHING I need, and on location, you have to make due with what you’ve brought. Still, there are times when shooting on location is a good idea, especially when working into the shot, an environment or location. And then there are times when the client’s needs outweigh my needs, and that’s fine to. In fact, I’ve been pressing to do more location food photography. I’m sort of getting the hang of it and I’m actually looking for more of those types of projects. I think I’d like to do a little more traveling. :o)

While I do not maintain a staff, I work with a team of freelancers that bring specific talents to each and every project, as needed. Pittsburgh is the home of many fine, food stylists and freelance assistants, and I assemble the specific team based on the particular needs of each individual project. That way, I’m able to mix and match depending on the unique need of each client. Why should a client have to pay for staff members that are not needed for their project? By doing things this way, I’m able to match a stylist with the style of the project. Everyone has their own strengths, weaknesses, and individual styles. Assembling teams to match projects has proven to be a great asset over the years and if it ain’t broke, why fix it… :o)

On a personal side, besides food photography, I enjoy family, motorcycles and the outdoors. I’m a gadget person and like my toys, both professional ones and personal ones. If you’d like to read more about me and my work, you can check out an article written a couple years ago. And if you have any other questions, please visit my food photographer’s portfolio web site or feel free to email or give me a call. I’d be glad to share with you anything I can…

Pittsburgh editorial food photographers vs advertising food photographers shooting menus

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 20, 2013

If you’re trying to distinguish if a Pittsburgh food photographer shoots more advertising work or more editorial food photography, just look his (or her) web page and count how many raw ingredient photos he has displayed… Editorial food photographers tend to shoot a lot of raw fruit and vegetable shots and advertising food photographers tend to shoot more prepared food shots. Of course, this is a broad generality and doesn’t always hold true, but more times than not, lots of a ingredient shots means that the photographer’s main market is of an editorial bent, meaning magazines.

So you might ask yourself, what does this matter? Well, if you own a restaurant here in Pittsburgh and you’re thinking about hiring a food photographer for a menu shoot, you might want to see if that photographer shoots the kind of photos you need. Are you just looking for photos of raw ingredients, or do you want appetizing photos of YOUR prepared menu items…? There is a huge difference between shooting raw Brussels sprouts in a bowl, and shooting your homemade lasagna on your restaurant’s plate.

If you are looking to have a Pittsburgh food photographer to shoot your menu, make sure that he has similar shots in his portfolio, so there’s no surprise the day of the shoot. Don’t get me wrong. Every food photographer ends up taking pretty vegetable shots sooner of later, but if most of his portfolio is made up of that kind of food photography, you might want to keep looking for a photographer that has in his portfolio or web page, the kind of photos that you actually need. Don’t assume, that if he can take a picture of a tomato or whole raw fish, that he can shoot prepared food. That’s a very different type of food photography.

Pittsburgh Advertising food photographers

Even though I'm an advertising food photographer, that doesn't mean I can't shoot pretty pictures of raw food...

Pittsburgh editorial food photographers

Every food photographer can shoot raw food, but advertising food photographers tend to shoot prepared foods much better - INHO :o)

Editorial Food Photography for Pittsburgh Clients

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 19, 2013

Pittsburgh doesn’t have a huge market for editorial food photography, but there are a few outlets. Table Magazine, Pittsburgh Magazine, Whirl Magazine, The local news papers, and a few others are pretty much all of local markets that I can think of, and many of those buyers, I honestly don’t know a whole lot about. I’d like to, but at the moment, I’m rather clueless… The one local magazine that I have worked for in the past, shooting editorial food and people photography, is Pittsburgh Magazine. The shots below are were used as cover and inside photos for the magazine and are pretty good examples of editorial food photography.

The files you’re looking at are the images before they were cropped for reproduction. All three of these images have a similar theme, the blown out backgrounds. This is a technique that I use to make my editorial food photos look more attractive. This way I can make the images look as though they’re in an environment, that might actually be the restaurant (for two of the shots) or in an actual kitchen (for the waffle shot).

These images are old, but some of my favorites, but as I look at these photos, I’m noticing that the camera angle tends to be from a similar angle, and for editorial photos, that’s not a good thing or even a common thing… I’ll have to keep that in mind as I build my portfolio in the future. I guess the reason that I keep coming back to the same camera angle, is because the angle “works”. The angle I usually shoot from is the one that I found displays the food to its best advantage, showing the thickness and texture, better than other possible camera angles. In advertising, that’s a good idea, but in editorial food photography, where there’s usually a larger quantity of photos to show, shooting everything from the same angle gets to appear a little boring after a few shots… With advertising food photography, we usually just shoot a shot or two and with so few pictures, repetition usually isn’t an issue.

I’ll be back with more samples and discussion on Pittsburgh editorial food photography shortly. There are more issues I’d like to discuss and photos to show you…

Pittsburgh Magazine Cover Photo

This food photo ended up being the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine

Editorial food photo from Pittsburgh Mag

Here's another example of editorial food photography that I shot for Pittsburgh Magazine

Pittsburgh Magazine Editorial food photo

Here's another expmple fo editorial food photography. Notice how the lighting makes the environment somewhat vague...

Pittsburgh Editorial Food Photography

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 18, 2013

I’ve been showing you a lot of samples of Advertising Food Photography and new I wanted to show you samples of editorial food photography so you can understand the difference. While I’d admit that I shoot mostly for advertising purposes, many time my Pittsburgh and national clients want a little “different” look and that’s when I get to go a little more in the direction of editorial food photography. In fact, I love shooting this kind of project, because it’s more about making pretty pictures and entertaining the viewers, which is a nice change for me. I wish I got to do a little more of this and in the future, I think I may point my business in this direction.

Basically, if I had to describe the differences in lighting between advertising and editorial food photography, I’d say it’s in the lighting. Sure there are other differences to, like composition, but the lighting is the main thing. Editorial Food Photography tends to be lit more softly. Soft food photography lighting tends to be “prettier” and more appealing, especially for “wider” food photos. What I mean by “softer” lighting is that the shadows are less crisp. Check out the photos I have posted down below. They tend to have softer light and this, in my opinion, helps makes them a little more “editorial” in feel. The soup photo may be the exception to this, but I guess you can be the judge of that. And if you’re a reader from a city other than Pittsburgh, the same ideas apply.

Note that when you’re looking at food photography how editorial food photography tends to have softer light. There are other things that make these photos less commercial and more editorial, but lighting is one if the main things that tilts the scale toward editorial. We’ll explore the other things in future posts…

Pittsburgh Editorial Food Photography 1 2_18_13

Pittsburgh Editorial Food Photography 3  2_18_13

I still think of this shot as editorial in nature, btu the lighting is still pretty crisp

Pittsburgh Editorial Food Photography 3 2_18_13

Pittsburgh Editorial Food Photography 4 2_18_13

Another things that make a food photo appear to me more editorial, is it's simplicity.

More Thoughts on Pittsburgh Restaurant Food Photography

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 18, 2013

Recently, I’ve been talking about restaurant photography and the difference between editorial and advertising food photography. I wanted to share with you an example of a food photo that I created here in my Pittsburgh Food Photography studio for regional restaurant chain by the name of Mitchell’s Fish Market. Mitchell’s is based in Florida but they’ve come here to Pittsburgh on several occasions so that we could create food photos for their restaurants that they use for various marketing purposes. I just wanted to point out the extreme texture we create in our restaurant food photography and how that is different than most “editorial” food photos that you may see. Again, advertising or commercial food photography had a job to do. We make photos that sell food, and not just entertain people. We try to make the food look like you could reach out and taste it. That’s one of the differences between advertising food photography and editorial food photography…. There are more, and we’ll talk about them later.

Restaurant Food Photography

Pittsburgh Restaurant Food Photography

Food Photography in Pittsburgh

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 18, 2013

If you’re finding this food photography blog for the first time and you’re not familiar with my photography, I hope you can recognize what separates me from my fellow food photographers, and that’s the lighting. Food photography lighting can loosely be categorized as one of two styles, either “Editorial” or “Advertising”. I tend to be thought of as an advertising food photographer, even though, I like to think that I can span between the two styles when I need to.

An Advertising food photographer, either in a town the size as Pittsburgh or on a national stage, is one that produces food photos that inform the viewer while displaying the food in it’s best light. An Editorial Food photographer, on the other hand is one that tries to make a pretty picture of food, more for the sake of entertainment rather than conveying information about the food being photographed. When I photograph food, I try my best to show off all the “nooks and crannies” of the food in order to make the two dimensional photo represent the actual three dimensional food, as much as possible, and that’s something the editorial food photographer, just doesn’t do very well.

The difference between editorial and advertising food photography, either here in Pittsburgh or in the world, is something I’d like to explore more in future blog posts. In the mean time though, check out other food photographers’ web sites and ask yourself if they are just trying to make a “pretty picture” or are they trying to sell the food. If you’re a buyer of food photography, the difference is pretty important. :o)

Pittsburgh Food Photography style sample

Here's a good example of advertising food photography as opposed to editorial food photography.

I’ve heard it said that commercial or editorial photography is a photography wearing overalls. It has a job to do besides entertain. It’s job is to sell food.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Food Photography

Posted in Food Photography by admin on Feb 14, 2013

Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done before. I went on location to a restaurant, here in Pittsburgh, to shoot as many food photos as possible, without a food stylist, for the Restaurant’s menu. The restaurant is Emiliano’s Mexican Restaurant and it has three locations here in Pittsburgh and they’re looking to expand, hopefully out near my house in the south hills… :o) I first learned about Emiliano’s when a friend of mine asked me to meet him there for lunch one day and since then, they’ve been one of my very favorite restaurants in all of Pittsburgh, second only to Mitchell’s Fish Market, in the Galleria Mall. So when I got a call from one of the owners at Emiliano’s to do some food photography for them, I was VERY excited. Not only that, but they ended up being some really great people and I had a great time working for them.

Normally, I do most of my shooting in the studio with a food stylist, but I’ve been meaning to do a little experimentation and try to expand my business toward a more of an editorial style. Don’t get me wrong, I still love what I do with my advertising food photography style, and I don’t see me totally abandoning that type of shooting, but I’ve always wanted to get into shooting cookbooks and and maybe something a little “looser” and faster.

Here are three shots from yesterday’s food photography shoot with Emiliano’s. We actually shot 20 food photo in and eight-hour shoot day, not counting setup and breakdown time. For food photography, that’s REALLY cruising, and we got some really great stuff too! I think I’d like to do some more of this type of food photography, either here in Pittsburgh, or somewhere else close by.

This was a great shake-down shoot. I took a lot of equipment that I didn’t end up needing, and now I know what I need to take along next time and what I need to leave back at the studio.

It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to doing it again some time soon…

Pittsburgh Food photography - Fish Taco

Pittsburgh Food photography - Fish Taco

Pittsburgh Food photography - quesadilla

Pittsburgh Food Photography - quesadilla

Pittsburgh Food photography

I'm not really sure what this is, but I do know it's REALLY HOT! :o)