Capturing More Than Just Food: The Story Behind Culinary Photographs

by | Oct 27, 2023

In an age dominated by visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, food photography has skyrocketed in popularity. Yet, behind each drool-worthy image is a story waiting to be told—a fusion of art, culture, and personal journey. Dive into the world of culinary photography with me as I peel back the layers behind each snapshot.

More Than Meets the Eye

The shimmering glaze on a doughnut or the steam rising from a fresh bowl of ramen captures our attention, but there’s always more to the picture. Every photograph is a culmination of countless decisions regarding lighting, composition, props, and styling.

The Cultural Context

Food is a reflection of culture. Whether it’s a hearty American burger, delicate French pastries, or spicy Indian curry, every dish carries with it the history and traditions of its origin. As a photographer, capturing this cultural essence becomes as crucial as getting the perfect angle.

The Setting: Crafting the Atmosphere

While the dish is the star, the setting plays a supporting yet significant role. The choice of tableware, background, and even the surface can convey various moods, from rustic and homely to elegant and sophisticated.

Props and Their Purpose

Every prop in a food photograph has a purpose. Whether it’s a sprinkle of herbs, a vintage fork, or a rustic wooden board, each element is meticulously chosen to complement the dish and tell a more in-depth story.

Emotions on a Plate

Why do we feel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when we see a slice of chocolate cake or a pie? Because food is intrinsically linked to memories and emotions. Capturing this emotional connection can transform a simple photograph into a powerful image.

The Personal Touch

Many chefs add a personal touch to their dishes—a secret ingredient or a unique twist. Similarly, as a photographer, I infuse my personal style and emotions into each image, creating a signature look that’s recognizable and distinct.

Collaboration is Key

Working hand-in-hand with chefs, stylists, and even clients is essential for a successful shoot. Each person brings a unique perspective, ensuring that the final image is a product of collective creativity.

Feedback and Evolution

The world of culinary photography is ever-evolving, with trends coming and going. Staying updated, seeking feedback, and continuously honing one’s skills are vital for growth and relevance in this dynamic domain.

Final Words

Culinary photography is not just about making food look good; it’s about conveying a story, emotion, and culture. As I click my shutter, I’m not just capturing a dish but encapsulating a moment, a feeling, and a narrative that will resonate with viewers and transport them to a different world—one where taste, sight, and emotion meld seamlessly.

Brent Herrig - Food and Cocktail Photographer & Director


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