In food photography, staying fresh is everything—sumptuously ripe fruits and vegetables, dazzling desserts straight from the oven, or concoctions from the cutting-edge of contemporary cuisine. So how does Corbis contributor Lew Robertson keep his subject matter from spoiling?
Not surprisingly, great food photography begins at the source. “There is a real beauty in the colors, textures, and variations found in the farmers’ markets,” Robertson says. “You can take a few ingredients and have fun with them creatively.”
After the shopping bags have been filled, the work of fashioning his compositions begins. A team of ingenious food stylists works feverishly to make every endive appetizing and assure that every plate of pasta is wound to perfection. “[They] are really the rock stars of a shoot. It’s because of their talent and experience that what’s on set looks as good as it does.”
As with any recipe, time is of the essence. “Ice cream is by far one of the most challenging foods. Since we can’t use fake stuff when shooting an actual ice cream product, we have to take extra steps to make sure we can keep the product alive as long as possible. This includes renting portable AC units, chest freezers, and dry ice, even cooling the studio as much as possible. We only have seconds before it starts to melt and we begin all over again.”
Another technique to emphasize the freshness of the ingredients is to pair them with something old, as demonstrated in Robertson’s series with antique kitchenware. “We were wandering around a flea market in Kansas City and came across an antique apple peeler. I picked it up without an idea of what I wanted to do with it, but I kept finding more and more of these fascinating old gadgets and the series began to form.”
Of course, nothing ages faster than lack of imagination. “As far as aesthetic trends, I think if you can pick up four magazines and find the same look, angle and style in all four, it might be time to explore some different looks.”
See more of Lew’s work on Corbis.