Sara Remington lives in the light.
And it’s all natural.
While Remington seems sunlit and luminous in person, her photographs appear to have been shot in perfect light as well. Remington has photographed more than 15 books, including My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur; Vino Argentino: An Insider’s Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina; and today’s FNJ featured book The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes.
Remington has been shooting professionally for just four years, but her photographs exude a timeless sensuality honed by years of experience.
Sara’s not one to set up a tangle of artificial lights around a tabletop. Watching her work is like watching a painter study a subject before picking up the brush — peaceful, unhurried. There’s Sara, her camera, the scene in front of her, and the sunlight. It’s as simple as that.
It take practice. And patience. And sometimes, a little help from a pro. Lucky for us, Sara took the time to share with us some of her wisdom:
Sara Remington’s 6 Tips for Great Food Photos
“This is the hardest thing to teach”, Sara says, “but it’s the first thing I like to talk about. Ask yourself ‘What moves me?’ Instinctually, what’s pulling you in toward the object? Work with that. It’s your passion that makes your photos and your voice unique, so trust that voice. And try thinking less about photography and more about art.”
How many lenses does the average food blogger need? “You can do a lot with a good eye and some basic equipment. But to take it to the next level you need a detachable lens. My recommendation for a less expensive consumer camera is the Canon Rebel ($600-800) and a 50mm macro lens ($250). This will give any beginning food photographer an excellent start. You can’t go much cheaper and get the quality these two items will give you. A tripod and card reader are necessary as well. But don’t go overboard on technology and gear. Concentrate on beauty instead.”
Is it ever appropriate to use artificial light? “If there’s a window, there’s light. And it’s FREE. Not to mention much more interesting and beautiful than artificial lighting will ever be. I’ll do contortions to get that natural light. I’ve shot honey pouring off a wooden spoon in a bathtub because the light reflecting off the white tub was much purer than artificial light. I’ve spread coffee beans onto the floor and gotten down there with them. When you’re shooting something so small, find the good light (because it’s always there somewhere) and sculpt it. Artificial light gives that cereal-boxes-in-the-grocery-store quality, which is just not that interesting. The light is as much an element as the food or the props, not just a tool to document them.”
“Keep moving! If you’re feeling stuck, then the angle’s not quite right. Experiment with where the good light is. Stand on a chair. Crouch down! Walk around! It’s easy to get overwhelmed and want to shoot everything. Focus and hone in on just what’s important. And remember, there’s no right answer. You just need to keep trying different things until the shot reveals itself.”
“It’s very important to ask yourself ‘What is the end story?’ Is it editorial or advertising? Is it about a feeling or is it ‘all about the biscuit?’ A rare and beautiful prop elevates the image, but don’t make the prop the star. In so many shots, there’s too much going on. Come closer, discover the beauty and simplify. Experiment by taking things OUT of the frame that are so often distractions. Experiment with stark color and simple shapes and make sure to ask yourself, ‘Does it make sense?’”
One of the great things about digital is how easy editing is. But where to start? “As far as technology, it’s not really necessary to have expensive editing software like “Capture 1″ if you shoot for yourself. It comes in handy if you’re laying out a book or working professionally with your photos, but if you’re shooting for your blog you don’t need it. Editing gives you another chance to look at what you’re shooting. By cropping and composing, you see things you didn’t notice before. And sometimes it’s just beautiful.”
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