Was Just Asked to Shoot Food/Restaurant Photos; need pointers.

sesser

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Fellow protographers and pro-ams with experience, I'm seeking some sage advice and helpful pointers to help me succeed in this task I haphazardly agreed to after 3 slices of pizza and a couple of beers. I have been visiting this establishment since they opened last year and have become pretty good friends with the owners (so much so, we were included in the small group of appreciated customers who were invited to the "company Christmas party"). Tonight, as we were about to leave, one of them asked if I'd be interested in shooting some food and environmental photos in exchange for... food and drink. It was all very unofficial and nothing set in stone about how much food and drink or for how long. Anyway, it's all very flattering I suppose, but I have some questions and am looking for any advice about a few things.

Focal Lengths
I have the basics plus a couple extras; 28-80mm equiv. f2.8-4 kit that is really quite good, 52mm equiv f2, 40mm equiv and 21mm equiv primes. I would not say they're all perfect, but certainly good enough for this task. I'm thinking I can use the kit zoom for most of it, the 50mm f2 for a little more separation when I need and the 21mm for capturing more of the restaurant itself. If anyone thinks I could benefit from a longer focal length, I'm all ears (eyes?). I do have access to some manual focus lenses that would get me to 75mm f/1.4 and 150mm f/2 equivalent in a pinch.

Lighting
Lighting is not what I would consider my strongest point. I kind of understand the basics (e.g. enough to be dangerous), but I struggle with things like placement, flash strength, bouncing, etc. I actually did not have any lighting (except the small flash that came with the camera) so I just bought a Flashpoint R2 XPro Tx and TTL zoom flash with Rx for possible off camera flash along with a 5 in 1 reflector for bounce fun. Oh, I also have a Neewer TT550 that works OK as a slave triggered by another flash. Will these be sufficient? I don't want to get too complicated and spend too much money/time on this.

Other Questions
I'm struggling to even think how much this would all be worth. I am ok bartering but I don't want the work to have zero value. I'm assuming I'll spend at least an hour taking photos, maybe a few more hours in post.

The biggest thing I want to get out of this is experience and the ability to share the work outside of their business for my own self promotion (and possibly new opportunities in the future that actually pay $$). I don't think they would object to me showing off the work, but should I get some model/property release forms anyway? Does it even matter if I'm the copyright holder?

I appreciate any tips/hints/trade secrets/anecdotal stories from those who have experience.

Cheers!
 

Stanga

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Most eating establishments want the food shown from the top so that customers can clearly see what's in the plate or bowl. For shots like that try not to take pictures of a steaming hot dish. It fogs up the lens.
For lighting in that case you can get one of those cheap 40cm or 60cm fold up light box. Some are sold with one or two cheap LED lights that are placed outside the light box to give soft lighting to the object. I actually use one if them to take pictures of stuff I sell on eBay.
 

sesser

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For lighting in that case you can get one of those cheap 40cm or 60cm fold up light box.
I actually thought about something like this too. Might see if I can find something cheep. Would also need a stand too.
Oh, yes. I've read through a few of his posts. Very useful. I'm not sure I'll have that kind of time or freedom to setup (will probably be during or right before business hours).

Thanks for the tips. Much appreciated.
 

mary

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I bought a Newer led light on Amazon $21.00 ..works greater I think it was the 160 model.
 

PakkyT

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I don't have an experience with this kind of "food shooting" but I can comment that this type of shooting is really all about the lighting. Your lenses are probably all fine as you are not doing portraits where you might want shallow depth of field and that sort of thing. As @Stanga already mentioned, top down shots and some sort of light box with lights (flashes will work but always on lights suh as LED lighting are probably fine) outside to even out the lighting is probably your best bet. You basically want the food well lit from all angles and no harsh shadows.

Same with interior shot. You want well lit interiors to show everything off. Many of the best ones are actually HDR (high dynamic range) shots. Not those garish ones you see where they looked over baked. Really well done ones do not look like HDR at all, but when you really look at them you can see everything is well exposed (nothing is in shadow and nothing is blown out). So for interior shots be sure to bracket your shots.

And as always there is no such things as taking too many shots but there certainly is a problem if you don't take enough and then discover later one or two things you photographed didn't come out well. So even after you have taken 2 or 3 shots of that one dish, 2 or 3 more won't hurt especially if you change them up a little between shots (slightly different exposures, angles, refocusing, etc.) just to be sure you will have one you like.

As to...

I don't think they would object to me showing off the work, but should I get some model/property release forms anyway? Does it even matter if I'm the copyright holder?
It is YOUR work so unless you have a contract stating otherwise, you can do anything you want with the shots. On the flip side though, I would spell out in writing (signed by all parties) what the expectation is for their use of the pictures. If they are going to be a one time advertising flyer then maybe that is worth a couple take out orders and goodwill with the owners. On the other hand, if they are going to have these photos on their take out menus (which are also advertisements) for the next 8 years, I think something more should be worked out, even if it is just free take out once a week but for as long as those photos are being used in their menus. Basically the longer they plan on using these shots and if for many difference promotional uses then the more you should ask for. Basically I would work out some short term uses and then if they are pleased with your work and want more/new shots or longer use, then you can work out something with new terms (actual cash payment, etc.).

With Model/property uses, I will mention two things, keeping in mind that I am NOT a lawyer. If there are people in the shots and they are recognizable then model releases are needed for commercial uses (where it is implied in the use that the model is promoting something) by the PUBLISHER of the photos, not necessarily you. So you can get model releases that cover the restaurant and you if you decide to use the photos for something else later, great, but it is the restaurant's responsibility as the publisher of these photos to get necessary releases of people in the shots (typically they ask the photograph to provide those but it is still the publisher's responsibility). And property doesn't have rights so you do not need a property release unless you are taking a photo of something that is copyrighted (example: the lights on the Eiffel tower, but not the tower itself) or closely associated with a trademark (e.g. Transamerica Pyramid building in San Francisco). However if you want to be safe for people and property download some generic releases online and have them all signed just the same.
 
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Stanga

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By the way, I sometimes use the focus bracketing feature for still life photography like this. I find that it can give a lot more bite to the items being photographed.
 

sesser

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randy
It is YOUR work so unless you have a contract stating otherwise, you can do anything you want with the shots. On the flip side though, I would spell out in writing (signed by all parties) what the expectation is for their use of the pictures. If they are going to be a one time advertising flyer then maybe that is worth a couple take out orders and goodwill with the owners. On the other hand, if they are going to have these photos on their take out menus (which are also advertisements) for the next 8 years, I think something more should be worked out, even if it is just free take out once a week but for as long as those photos are being used in their menus. Basically the longer they plan on using these shots and if for many difference promotional uses then the more you should ask for. Basically I would work out some short term uses and then if they are pleased with your work and want more/new shots or longer use, then you can work out something with new terms (actual cash payment, etc.).
I believe they want to use them on their website, so, kind of like a take-out menu. What I think I can do, is provide properly sized jpegs for the web (at 72dpi). That should limit use to screens anyway. If they want higher res images, then that can open the dialog for further compensation.

However if you want to be safe for people and property download some generic releases online and have them all signed just the same.
I might just do this. I can scan them in for myself and let them keep the originals if they want.

Thanks for the insight and thought. Really appreciate it.
 

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