Getting the Shot 14: Food in Korean Restaurants

Got the last word

Let’s face it, if there is one thing that people love it is food and taking pictures of it. Food shots done right can make what would normally be just a boring soup into something magical. I used scoff at the young college girls who would post about their food, but now I just cringe (if it is not done right). What I love about food photography in restaurants is that it is challenging and there is no “food magic” it is all real. What I mean by “food magic” is that a lot of the commercial food shots that you see are not really food at all. They are made to look like food but many times the milk splashes are food props and the milk is not even milk at all! However, at the restaurant, what you see is what you get.

The Shot: What you want is a shot that draws the focus to the food itself showing the detail and making it look delicious. Typically the plate and every thing else should be clean and neatly arranged on the table. In more Korean restaurants, you would have the luxury of a lot of dishes so you can play around with the boils and shapes as a background.

The Location: Typically choose a table with the best light and/or light source. I have found that Korean restaurants tend to be brighter than the trendy western style ones, so you may not have a problem with the lighting but bring a small tripod or table-top tripod just in case.

The Set-up: Go with your gut and I mean that! Shoot what draws you to the food. Get a couple overhead shots and some plate shots but really dig to find what draws you to the food. I almost always shoot with my 50mm wide open at F/1.4, I just love blurring out everything but the details that make me drool.

The Post-processing: Typically you want to make the food look it’s best and to do so you normally need warm bright colors. Typically I only shoot in raw, so photoshop’s camera makes warming up the tones quite easy but these days, pretty much every piece of camera editing software can do it. The trick here is to make the food look clean and editable. Another thing to look out for is plates. If you warm up everything too much you are going to notice it in the plates. Now typically Korean restaurants don’t have those huge white plates with the tiny bits of food on them like expensive western restaurants, but it is still something to look out  for. If it does become a problem, I have found that cooling off the photo via a cooling filter may do the trick or bumping up the magentas if everything looks too blue.


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