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Food photographer in Atlanta: chicken wings, photographer, stylist and a sauce:-)

Food photographer in Atlanta: chicken wings, photographer, stylist and a sauce:-)

Last week I had a great opportunity to work on a very interesting project: a food photoshoot for Jante Glen and his Wing City2City Take-Out Restaurant.
Jante  has this great idea of very simple and inexpensive Take-Out restaurant with more money spent on the quality of the food instead of workers, the building and silverware. Therefore the photography should be the same: simple, but showing the best of the product for each menu item.

We were lucky to find a great food stylist, Nan McCulloch (www.nanmcculloch.com), she helped us a lot with the whole concept of the shoot, along with the styling for each dish.

restaurant menu photography
Photography for a restaurant menu

food photographer atlanta ga
Food photography for a WingCity2City restaurant

Now, the lighting:

Lighting setup was relatively simple: I used, as usual, as many lights as I can fit around the product:-)  Always prefer to have  maximum flexibility and control in that area.

The lighting setup for this food photoshoot:

lighting setup for food photography in atlanta ga
Lighting setup diagram

Lights 1 and 2 (both WL X1600) worked as main and filler lights, switched by the changing power ration between them. The most important lights were numbers 4 and 5( AB B400) with a little “filler” help from a Beauty Dish (number 3, AB B800) from top-behind: They were giving this tasty glare for the wings I was looking for.
Number 6 (WL UltraZap 800, one of the oldest units in the studio) was to highlight the background.

In general, I’ve used a combination of very intense directional lights (all lights except 1, 2 and 6 had 10 or 20 degree honeycomb grids) with soft (through soft-boxes) fill lights. This way I’ve got contrast and full of details photos, but still bright and simple  (remember the idea of the shoot).

Few more real images of the lighting setup:

atlanta food photograper chinken wings lighting setup
Lighting setup, front view

The same thing, left side view:

atlanta food photograper chinken wings lighting setup from left

Now I start to use X-Rite ColorChecker Passport tool: was very easy to create a custom color profile for a studio lights, now I do not need to use that white balance picker for each my studio set.
Highly recommend this to all who care about correct colors:-)

The composition:

For a food shots, blurred background (usually) is a good thing: it helps to focus on a main piece of dish (chicken wings), while showing some other “appropriate” stuff on a background: still visible, but not distracting.

Must to say I do not like that type of  food shots where only tiny line of the dish in a focus: it may look nice first, but not sure if you ant to see something like this in a restaurant menu. We want to see what we’ll eat more clearly:-)

So, to make background blurred, I’ve used long focus lens, 180m f3.5 macro  from Canon. However, DOF should be deep enough, therefore F11 aperture was set.

food and drink photographer in atlanta

For this one (above) I’ve added one more spot light, only to highlight through the glass with intense directional light ( 10 snoot was used)

Many thanks for a great stylist, Nan McCulloch: she had great taste and professional feeling of how to arrange everything the best possible way, as well as exceptional coordinator’s skills. Thank you, Nan!


More photos from this photoset with before and after images is on our Atlanta retoucher’s blog. This mouse-over before and after photos are always  among the most popular topics there:-)

Camera gear:

Lighting, light modifiers and accessories:

All shots were done with: shutter speed 1/250 sec, F11, ISO 100.

As usuall, your feedback is highly appreciated!


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15 responses on "Food photographer in Atlanta: chicken wings, photographer, stylist and a sauce:-)"

  1. Great photo. the color combination is good. But the chicken wings a little more shiny than enough. May be the food stylist used more oil than enough:)

    The background a little dark. actually it seems like a little gray. ıt would be better if you used a little more powerful light. And This this way, you would get a brighter white background. you know, backlighting looks good on foor photos.
    May be you will say that you didn’t want to do a backligt shot. But you background is already wite and empty. there is no any promps on your background. If you want to make a white background, then use a brighter light. If you don’t want to make a white background, then just put something, for example another table which has some glasses or bottles behand of the main table. and you would have a great botheh. This is my personal criticism for lighting of this shot.

  2. these shots are terrible. The lighting and the number of lights are absolutely not needed – nothing interesting about these photos.
    Just not appetizing I’m a little surprised that people see this as good lighting.

    • Mark, man, you are too harsh on me! :-)
      He-he. This was one of my first food shots I did loong-loooong time ago, and these days I would not use that many lights. Agree with you 100% here.
      I would not call them terrible though. Not interesting – yes, plain at some point, but not terrible at all.
      Anyway – glad to hear your honest opinion!

      • Personally, I think the lighting is not so right, the lighting setup is more suitable for product, not food. The background should be brighter and images lack of bright highlight. The lighting setup works maybe well with product but in this case it results in dull and haze food image.

        Shooting angle too low, so all potato and vegetable are sticked together

        There are so many lights, I think one or two are enough, 1 main light on the right behind the dish, reflector in front and maybe another small light to create bright highlight should work for food photography.

  3. man this is great but not everyone can afford that unfortunately

  4. nice set up. i found it so bright.

  5. That was a great food photography. I am still learning photography, and it seems it is never ending process. I think their a lot of ideas to be learn more. Thank you.

  6. Alex, simply said – your photos are masterpieces. I am still learning photography, and it seems it is never ending process… I tried to “read” from your photos, which light made which reflection, and how much of the final result is contributed by individual lights… Sincerely I cannot “see” what effect added the two gridded backlights(4,5) or how much effect is added by beauty dish above(3)… I would love to see the series of photos with only one light ON and the others OFF for every light, to see the isolated effect of every light on scene… Do you think it would be bearable to try it on your next tutorial? …And THANK YOU for sharing your experience – you are helping me a lot. Wish you all the best in work and life as well. Jan

    • Jan,
      Yes, I’ll be showing the isolated effect from each light (already have it on some of the shots), but I’ll be doing it for a tutorial shots only. For the assignments with the client and crew around (like the one with chicken wings) it won’t be wise to slow down the process to play with each light individually. So, in this case it will be more like a behind-the-scene article instead of tutorials.
      Thank you!

  7. This looks so delicious! I’m getting hungry!

  8. Great post! You really do nice work. Keep posting.

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