Client: Sophisticated Living Magazine Indianapolis
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Photographer: Andrew Kung/Andrew Kung Group
Assist/BTS: Rachel Lutz/Andrew Kung Group
Category: Restaurant Editorial Photoshoot Case Study
Usually when we get the call to shoot a restaurant, the first thing we do is look up the menu. Even though the menu is not the only source of information to make a determination on the art direction, target clientele/reader (for editorials) or camera and lighting kit that we need to bring, it is still a great overall indicator for what to expect. For Nook by Northside in Indianapolis, we were introduced to a quaint pizza and wine bar that though small in size (like its namesake), was quite the opposite in spirit. Their artisanal menu was full of fresh choices and definitely focused on signature wood-fired pizzas and salads.
Now for those who are familiar with shooting food, pizzas typically present a challenge in regards to making it look eye-catching due to its flat shape without much height variation. Also, when covered in a lot of cheese, pizzas have a tendency to reflect a lot of light and toppings that would normally add color to the presentation end up getting hidden under all the cheese (but no doubt, it would taste great). For this shoot, I decided that if I was going to shoot any pizza from a top-down angle, I was going to use the bar top that was a dark brown (almost black) as a background to contrast against the light colored pies. I also then used strobes at high power to be able to shoot the food with a deep depth -of-field to ensure that I was capturing all the rich texture and colors. I wanted to avoid shooting at a shallow depth-of-field because I didn’t want to lose any clarity in the toppings or to make everything look like a homogenous (read: boring) dish.
To read more about our restaurant editorial lighting setup and the equipment that we used for this photoshoot, feel free to scroll down to read more. You can also check out the behind-the-scenes images here.
PHOTOGRAPHY CHEAT SHEET
2 LIGHT SETUP
How To Setup Lighting For Restaurant Editorial Photography
For this shoot, I used two Profoto Heads with two 2×3 softboxes as my lighting setup and with no ambient lighting affecting the scene. The camera settings of f/9 aperture at 1/160th shutter speed meant that there was negligible indoor ambient light affecting the camera sensor, meaning that all the lighting affecting the scene was coming from my strobes. Shooting at f/9 also meant that I had deep depth-of-field which is desired by a lof of restaurants, especially when their dishes have a lot of texture, depth and interest. Since this style of photography and set up is not dependent on natural light, you do not have to (and should not) set up next to a window. In fact, this lighting setup is quite liberating since you can pick your set location based on how you want the aesthetics of the surface/background to be and you aren’t limited to having to shoot next to a window. Essentially, you can build your set anywhere in the restaurant that will allow enough room for the equipment.
Speaking of space for equipment, the footprint for this setup is relatively small. One main top-down fill light on a C-Stand 40″ grip arm was placed directly over the subject, the food items in this case. Another light source was placed camera right, slightly to the rear of the subject. The right rear light was used as the key light and to produce very subtle backlight/edge light. There was no front fill used at all in this shoot but for certain dishes/drink shots, I did move the top-down fill light around a little to affect the shadows differently depending on what was desired.
I think one of the key things to remember when producing a shoot like this is that you can get set up relatively quickly with two lights. There are no flags, scrims or bounce/fill cards involved. Of course, there is always the possibility of adding more grip gear, lights and modifiers if you so choose and if the budget allows for it but if you are planning on getting this type of restaurant editorial photoshoot done efficiently and effectively, I would recommend trying this 2 light setup out.
For a more economical and affordable lighting setup, you can also consider these great alternatives here.
Want to try out this setup? Rent this setup for your next restaurant photoshoot!
MORE RESTAURANT EDITORIAL IMAGES
One thing to remember when producing a shoot like this is to keep your lighting a little more even and not too dramatic. The softboxes will help diffuse and soften the light quality but in regards to the difference in the power of the strobe heads, I would recommend to not go too many stops over your fill light when setting up the rear key light. The rear key light should just add a little bit of interest/punch to the subject so it is not a flat and boring looking image.
BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO
BUDGET FRIENDLY EQUIPMENT (Alternatives)
(ITEMS ARE LINKED BELOW)
LOWER PRICE RANGE
MEDIUM PRICE RANGE
– ELINCHROM 24X31.5″ ROTALUX RECTABOX (For Elinchrom Monolights)
PRESETS & ACTIONS
VS BLOOM PRESET PACK
This LR/PS preset collection produces lighter, brighter images with bold color and sharp details. Many of the Bloom presets increase vibrance and decrease contrast while maintaining shadows and flattering skin tones.
FOUNDER, INSTRUCTOR, NINJA
Andrew has over 15 years of experience in the field and has served on set as the Director of Photography and Principal Stills Photographer for various commercial and advertising campaigns for companies such as Valvoline, Tempur-Pedic, Humana, Churchill Downs and General Electric Appliances.
When he’s not craving sushi (or talking about it), Andrew is an instructor, ninja, and founder of Visionspire. He loves traveling out West, particularly in Sedona and San Diego, sharing cute animal videos, and experimenting with cocktails like he’s the personal mixologist for Bill Murray (his words, not ours).