Apologies for not qualifying myself properly from the start.
I'm not a good photographer and neither do i want to be one. I prefer to do what i do better, that's to become a restauranteur.
The problem with small restaurant like mine, everything also have to DIY in order to keep cost to the lowest. You might not believe what i am about to say next.
The first revision of my menu is shot at home using a Canon IXUS 800, outputing to my home Samsung 29" LCD TV to do the food arrangement. Using desk lamp and aluminium foil.
The second revision is done using my friend's 40D with marco lens. He has no experience with food photo so we spend a lot of time to finally do up the menu. But the problem is very paiseh to always borrow friend's expensive camera.
I do not require a perfect shot of the food. But it's important to have at least 1 photo for 1 item list. People are visually driven. When you patronise a small family restaurant, do you scrutinize the photos or do you criticise on the food.
Now planning for my next menu and promo, i see a step up to own a basic setup. I have done two revision by myself at minimum cost, that's why i feel that there's no need to engage freelance to do it for me.
Now, what setup would you recommend for me? I already have a tripod from my video camcorder, what's next??
Last edited by terrencepang; 5th December 2009 at 06:54 PM.
Personally, I think you can actually turn out pretty decent food pictures by just using a sub-$500 point and shoot, and a tripod. The main thing to get right is the composition and the item being taken must not look like it has sat there for hours.
For a small restaurant (speaking from experience) I'd rather spend $2000 on better food ingredients than on a pro to take pictures each time the menu changes.
If equipment and costs is your main concern, get a used 10D in good condition at $400 or less, and a used 50mm 1.8 lens at $90, and a +2 Hoya close-up filter at around $20+, or if you can extend, a used Tamron 90mm macro at around $400, which could easily double up for portraits later on. It would be quite a bit more than adequate for what you need done.
Alternatively, going by what you said, I suspect the photos you need may be small. Why not save the money and use stills, digitally enhanced, from your videocam? That would save you more.
BTW, don't expect an experienced Food Photographer to automatically know how to style food, and is willing to do it de facto, FOC. While some may be able to do it, and I know a few who can do a decent styling job, and a fairly convincing touch-up, and are willing to help a bit here and there, usually to resolve an emergency situation, it's a matter of diluted focus.
A sous chef probably knows the jobs and can do the jobs of a garde manger, saucier and chef de partie, but he is also human, and can only excel at one specialized task at a time. He may be able to juggle multi-tasking for short-periods in an emergency like say for an hour or two, with some loss of quality and efficiency, but he certainly won't be able to do it for long.
A Food Stylist, Set Stylist and Food Photographer are entirely separate, specialized and distinctively different disciplines, and that's why there are specialists in each field.
That said, I can also understand the need for minimal cost and efficiency when running a small restaurant, and I admire the tenacity you show.
However, please do not take offense when I share that effective business leaders know when and where to delegate, where and when to scrimp and save, and are intimately familiar with the phrase, 'penny wise pound foolish'.
Ultimately, and as an experienced restaurateur, you probably already know the age old fact that people eat with their eyes first. And that this endeavor is going to take you a whole lot of time and effort, as well as resources of your own and your friends. I suspect that your time away from effectively managing the gazillion facets of a restaurant business, running around to DIY this and other shoots and calling on favors may end up costing you a lot more than the $2K or $3K you think you might be saving. Or not.
I do wish you all the best in this shoot, and hope the results come out fine.
Last edited by Dream Merchant; 5th December 2009 at 08:07 PM.
DM made the perfect reply for you... I was about to say something similar but he said it better
i hv seen some1 using a pns...
Stirring up emotions with pics - cyliew
U can try Canon 500D with 60mm macro lens.
Good luck to your restaurant, hope to see some of the photos here!
Please see photos taken by me using my friend's 40D.
I have weighed that by DIY my own menu now, i have saved more at this point in time. Therefore i have decided to buy a entry level gear to do the job.
Seriously, if i could outsource this job i would have.... but i have already weigh my option.... else i wouldn't have spend time creating this post.
Last edited by terrencepang; 5th December 2009 at 11:25 PM.
For the salad the background looks good, makes the bowl and the food standing out. For the Hokkigai it's not the case, background and the bamboo material below the food are the same colour. Black would be nice(r) here.
I am not sure what is offered in the 3K package for the 25 photos, but I would think it is a little too many to ask for, if your budget limited you in outsourcing. However, if the package comes with a consultative approach then, it is definitely more than what any business could ask for in return of some atticing food shots because this is "the nectar to the bees" in your business.
From the business aspect, you could use another approach, most food business would have their key dishes, and I believe likewise you would have yours. It could be 5-10 depending, then again, your budget does play a part. If so, I would suggest you focus your attention on food presentation instead of roughing against the challenges which you definitely faced during the photo shoot. And it is also not neccessary to get the top pg for food to do your job if your food presentation is enticing, nevertheless it gives the most optimal results.
In each business domain, there are fundamentals which are important and most are realized through time and establishment of working relationship with vendors. As photography comes to play a more important role in business needs, there is a further importance to start from small, and build mutual trust likewise, in event of an urgency, you know you won't be turned down. Believe it or not, by the time you could afford it, XYZ may not have the time to handle your project, worst to say, take your job and deliver moderately. Of course, it doesn't mean there is totally no problem when outsourcing, the fact is, I have also experienced top qualified PG using high end equipment offering sub-standard work for instance "distorted products" but because we started with them, we know we won't be using them a next time even if they fix the problem through offering a complimentary reshoot session.
In conclusion, if you start outsourcing a portion of your job, you may obtain the best of both world in budget and quality photos, likewise it would also help you identify if the photographer is serious with your business. But before you do sign any agreement, do read clearly on the terms and conditions in case they don't even offer a complimentary reshoot session which would result in monetary and time loss. This would be the worst for any business to experience.
From your salad shot, I think you could spend more effort in presenting the food although the salad is suppose to be a mix but that doesn't mean you mix the salad, it could also be a neat arrangement as such you present each variety and ingredients of the salad in their tip-top freshness for instance "use some droplets of water on cabbages". There are other tricks as well, but if you are still keen to DIY it, I suggest you spend at least a couple of hundred on magazine to see what works for the majority. Just remember, the photos you present would represent the type of price it demands, the customers it brings and the quality of the dinning depending on how you scale your business.
Anyway, your entrepreneurship is admirable, and I wish your restaurant would take off well in the shortest sprint. Good luck!
ur 1st pic seems not sharp enough...for the 1st pic, a deeper dof would be preferred as all the different food in the bowl can be seen clearly.
the 2nd sashimi seems ok to me...
i understand ur intention is to save on cost, my suggestion is to get the d90 kit.
the kit len is 18-105. minimun focusing distance is 0.45m and with the focal range at 105, u should be able to get some good close-up shots.
get a flash like sb600 or sb900.
use the remote flash function and play ard with the flash at different angle.
i hv a thread somewhere on food shots i did with my 50-135 len.my min focusin is 1m and at 125-135 focal range, i had some shots to show...
let me find it...
note that in the 1st dish, there is harsh shadow which is typically what u wan to avoid.
Last edited by ijnek; 6th December 2009 at 07:24 AM.
Stirring up emotions with pics - cyliew
Are you considering keeping the DSLR for long term usage?
To keep costs down, perhaps you can rent a decent setup first instead of purchasing one.