For those of you who may have been wondering what happened to cook, shoot eat a food photographer’s journey, the blog it’s been a while. Where have I been? I have been writing a book. I was commissioned to write a book called More Digital Food Photography.
The original title Digital Food Photography was written by one of my competitors around 6 years ago. When I was asked to author the second edition I jumped at the opportunity. The book is coming out on May 9th.
After the contract was signed I struggled to give shape to the central point. Shooting food professionally is one thing but distilling the method down so that people could understand it is another. As my good friend Mark Giovannini once said “pretend like I was from Mars and just landed in my spaceship, how would you explain it to me so I can understand it easily”.
I kept asking myself who is this book for? Finally it occurred to me it should be for anyone that wants to shoot food photography regardless of their level. I decided to break it up into simple ideas that could easily be understood.
What I arrived at was a step by step process that teaches photography using food as it’s subject. My thesis is that in order to take outstanding food photos you must learn photography in general. It’s concepts, rules and techniques. There are certain skills you have to learn to take any type of photograph but then to capture food images you need to learn the tricks of the trade so to speak.
I learned through experience and on the job training. I wanted to be able to convey the basics then build lessons for more complex studio images. The book became somewhat of challenge but once I started it shaped up nicely.
More to come on the book and the blog but I just wanted to reach out to my readers to tell them I’m back.
The book is available on Amazon for pre-order and is coming out May 9th. <http://www.amazon.com/MORE-Digital-Food-Photography-Brady/dp/1435454189/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333462428&sr=8-1>
I would urge you to consider buying it if you ever wanted to elevate your own images to a more professional level. We discuss everything from simple lighting with natural light to shooting in the commercial environment. We also discuss the business of photography, how to deal with clients and how to bid on jobs.
The book is for you the readers of this blog who strive to make your food images better. There are tips on food styling, ways to collaborate with other food people to get a more professional result.
When first started out there were no guide books or blueprints into the professional photography world let alone into the high stakes food photography genre.
Here is the final photo from the food styling chapter where we detail how to style this dish.
A Colorful Combination for a Succulent Stir-fry
Quick Vegetable Tofu Stir-fry (Serves 2 as a side dish)
A quick stir-fry can be made with just a few well chosen vegetables. Put together a colorful combination and always start with a hot wok. Heat a little oil almost to the smoking point. Add the ingredients one at a time starting in the order of the cooking time required. The stir-frying should take around 6 minutes from beginning to end. Vegetables should remain crisp.
I red sweet pepper, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 yellow sweet pepper, cut into ¼-inch slices
¼ lb. snow peas, strings removed
1 head baby bok choy, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 pieces firm tofu, cut in half horizontally, then cut into ½-inch cubes
2 T peanut oil
1 T dry sherry
2 T soy sauce
½ t sugar
¼ cup chicken broth (or water)
1. Add oil to a hot wok.
2. Add both sweet pepper slices and stir-fry for 1 minute.
3. Add snow peas and stir-fry for 30 seconds
4. Add bok choy pieces and stir-fry another 30 seconds.
5. Add tofu and gently fold in.
6. Add the sherry, soy sauce and sugar one at a time.
7. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil and cover.
8. Turn heat to medium and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until broth is almost absorbed. Taste for salt. Serve over rice.
Selecting and Seasoning a Wok
Good news: The best wok, carbon steel, sometimes called rolled steel, also happens to be the least expensive. Carbon steel will rust so you have to season it and take proper care of it. However, it is light weight, will take on a black patina over time and nothing will stick to it. Cast iron is too heavy to maneuver and will interact with acetic ingredients. Stainless steel, also heavy, will be more expensive. An electric wok is out of the question as you cannot take food quickly off the heat or manipulate the wok.
Carbon steel is the way to go. A new wok may be covered with machine oil which must be washed off with detergent and a plastic scrubber or brush. Never use steel wool on a wok. Dry the wok and place it on a top burner until the entire surface is hot. Douse a wad of a rolled up piece of paper towel with peanut (or vegetable) oil and using tongs, wipe the entire surface. Heat for 10 minutes. Let cool. With clean paper towels, wipe out wok. Repeat this process two more times.
The first couple of times you use a wok, there may be a slight metallic taste, but this will soon wear off. After each use, wash with hot water and detergent and dry thoroughly. At the beginning, rub with oil again. After a short while this will not be necessary and in time you will have a beautiful shiny black wok on which nothing will stick.
I prefer a metal spatula for stir frying. Wooden spatulas quickly discolor and don’t slide cleanly under the food.
First of all, “stir frying” is a misnomer. There is no stirring in stir frying. The technique is to slide the spatula underneath the food at the center of the wok, lift it up and turn it over. Then repeat this procedure from a different angle. Thus, the top surface becomes the bottom surface and all gets cooked evenly. Always heat your wok first before adding the oil and get it as hot as possible without burning the oil. Happy woking!
Recipe and commentary by Phyllis Kirigin
<http://studio212photo.com> Bill Brady Photography