For everyone who wants to know what gear I use, whether I shoot with natural light or flashes, etc. here are the answers.
I rely on a relatively new Canon 5D Mark III and a relatively old Canon 7D to take the photos on this blog. The latter’s fast frame rate is still great for capturing yolks toppling out of shells, pours and sprinkles. I’ll probably retire it sometime this year. A tripod is an absolutely essential piece of gear for shooting in low light or long shutter speeds. I always use a tripod to take both ingredients and “finished dish” shots in natural light.
The light in our kitchen is classic New England, which is to say, like a basement much of the time, so all of the chopping, slicing and dicing, as well as the stovetop cooking, is illuminated with a strobe and/or off-camera flashes while I shoot handheld. My initial efforts, which you can still see on this blog, were often dreadful — weirdly blue or orange, depending on the mistakes I was then making. I believe in flashes – and I believe in modifying them with umbrellas or softboxes. When someone says to me, “I only shoot in natural light,” I want to say, “Oh, and what happens when the sun goes down?”
Two lenses serve for the bulk of my work – a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II and a Sigma 50mm Macro (the food photographer’s friend). Depending on circumstances, I might also pull out my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II or Canon 100mm Macro F/2.8 (the non-L).
All of the above is the same gear I use in my professional food and restaurant work.
That said, just about any DSLR can produce great food photographs; add a flash, a light stand, an umbrella and a reflector, and you’ve got your first home studio. All of us need to start someplace. Don’t try to invent the wheel yourself. There are lots of resources out there–books, online courses and websites devoted to photography, brick and mortar workshops–use as many of them as you have time and can afford. Online, The Perfect Picture School of Photography is great, especially Ron Goldman’s Food Photography offerings – they were helpful to me. I’m also a fan of Rick Friedman’s off-camera flash workshops. Take LOTS of pictures. Everybody has at least 10,000 bad pictures in them. While you’re busy taking those, you’ll get a rare good one. Try to figure out what you did right and duplicate it the next time.
All photographs in The Garum Factory are ©Ken Rivard. I don’t mind if you use AN UNCROPPED PHOTO (no recropping, no watermark removal) as long at it’s clear it comes from us (The Garum Factory) and you include a link back to our original content. Anything else is off the table, unless you talk to me about it. I direct your attention to the “Thieves of Photography” scene from Dante’s INFERNO, a particularly horrifying ring of hell in which digital pirates must endure the eternal discharge of flashes in their faces. You have been warned.
For commercial work, rates and availability, please contact me, Ken Rivard, at firstname.lastname@example.org.