This gallery is a fun one! It’s not every day I get to style and photograph food or drinks, especially not such cute and colorful teas like what they’re pouring at Cotta Nostra. I’ve learned a lot about food photography after shooting a few sessions with them, and it’s about time for some behind-the-scenes!
I connected with Cotta Nostra owners, Patrick and Lydia Ohpark, through my favorite place – Instagram. Lydia, a local esthetician in the Valley, serves up beautiful and educational skincare content on her feed, and when I came across her account @dewskinbar I wanted to book her for a facial immediately.
One facial led to another, and eventually, I became more than just Lydia’s client – I became her and Patrick’s favorite photographer 💁🏼♀️ (They haven’t actually professed this and I’m just reading between the lines here, but they really do like me, ok?)
A lot of my clients have found me through Instagram. I hang out there a lot – let’s connect!
Styling Food Photography
Styling fresh ingredients certainly presented new challenges for me. As a product photographer, I’m often working with objects that are relatively stable and unchanging. I can take hours or days to get the perfect shot if I want to. Sometimes I even photograph a product once, then get a new idea and come back to it days later.
Not so with food photography! Fruit starts to brown, ice melts, and hot dishes turn cold. You have to work fast, and/or have a few tricks up your sleeve to get great food photos.
For this session, we styled the tea bottles with actual ingredients that were used in each recipe. Dry tea leaves, cinnamon, boba beads, fresh fruit, and even charcoal powder.
I kept the backdrops simple and let the drinks speak for themselves. They’re all so colorful and unique, they didn’t need a ton of distracting props or accessories. From milk tea with dark charcoal layers to rainbow bright fruit teas, there is so much pretty color and texture to see!
Food Photo Tricks
Here are a few food photography secrets I implemented in this session:
- Natural condensation on the bottles from the ice gave a nice, refreshing look. To mimic that chilled look on some strawberries, I used a spray bottle.
- Props don’t always stay exactly where you want them to, so we improvise! I cut a small slit in a mango slice to stack it on top of another slice without it sliding off. You can also use toothpicks, tape, or sticky tac to make things stay where you want them.
- For the “floating strawberry” shot, I stuck strawberries onto wooden chopsticks and had my lovely assistants (Lydia and my boyfriend, Chad) hold them while I worked the camera. Through post-processing in Lightroom, I removed the chopsticks. Voila, floating fruit!
Check Out the Full Food Photography Gallery!
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