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The art of food photography

Thursday, 19th October, 2017 9:59am

Currently, I am attending a course on food photography in CIT. I always wanted to do it and this time, I thought I might turn 100 before I actually do it. So, off I went and signed up.

The group is a nice mix of people from chefs to teachers and everything in between. But if you thought this was a walk in the park, you’d be mistaken. 

We have to write an essay on the evolution of food styling that will count towards the final exams. Yes, there will be an exam and there will be penalty points for any delay.

So, food styling and its evolution – what can be said about it? Actually a lot, when I look through my vast array of cookbooks from the ‘30s (my nan’s baking leaflet from Dr. Oetker) to ‘70s era Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course to today’s modern styled books. Obviously, the quality of images has changed over the decades and new technology makes it so much easier to take great photographs.

Also, in the ‘30s and ‘40s, using photography in cookbooks was very expensive so drawings were used instead which create a completely different feel than today. Food porn is a term used (in my eyes too often) when a photo of food is exceptional and you can see sometimes how much trouble people go to, to take the perfect photo.

I personally don’t like burgers but a good stylist and photographer can make it look delicious and even I would take a bite.

But then, very often you see absolutely terrible images where the light is too dark, everything looks brownish orange and you wonder what is actually on the plate.

And funnily enough, a lot of food businesses are guilty of it. Never mind the gazillions of bloggers who take pics at every turn and sometimes don’t do the food justice.

I interviewed Ross Lewis a few years back when he was in Cork and I asked him what he thinks of diners who take photos of their dishes and he had a very good point to make.

“If you want a photo, tell me and I take it under the light. It looks terrible and all our work was for nothing.”

So, unless you know how to take a good photo of food, leave it.

Saying all that, I am the worst offender as I have more photos of food then people on my phone (hence, me taking the course) but after the interview with Ross, I don’t post photos unless I am really happy with the result.

The iPhone has a great camera and most of the new smart phones have as well so we should be able to take nice photos but it all depends on the light and also the position.

I don’t like photo taken from above (it’s a personal thing) and believe that odd angles make a photo more interesting (and professional photographers might not agree at all) but then, in the end it is down to personal preference.

Anyhow, I am back now researching the evolution of food styling.

What’s on:

19 Oct. Winter Medicine Chest

20 Oct. Speed Tasting L’Atitude51

20 Oct. Ceylon Nights: Pop up @Alchemy

22 Oct. Cork Afternoon Tea by the Lee

23 Oct. TasteScapes with Seamus O’Connell

24 Oct. From the Producer to the Plate


For more details on these events, please go to

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