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Hi and welcome back.

I’ve decided to upgrade my food portfolio.  I have been searching for a simple solution to light my food as I’ve not shot it in a long time and am rusty.

Since I left my studio, I’ve been working out of my garage, jumbling bikes, toys, stuff, and photo gear all in a tight space.  As you can see on the left of the frame, I’ve set up my food station in the middle of the space to give me walk-around room.  I’ve also decided to use one light and reflectors only so I can develop my style all over again.


My goal as always is simplicity.  One light, two or three reflectors, a second light only if I need detail, and simple backgrounds.

Let’s go over the setup:

Key: Phottix Indra 500 Monolight, Chimera 36×48 softbox

If you can use a strobe light for a great deal of power.  As you move in close to your food for detail, shooting at f/8 is not uncommon to get the foreground detail you need.  While you can do it with speed lights, the larger light is more powerful.  Also use a large softbox.  Round or rectangular doesn’t matter but make it as large as possible for soft diffused light.

Here’s the setup working.  The key is set to 1/125 @ f/5.6, ISO 100, WB Daylight.  You can see the reflectors here too.  I used 8×10 cards that used to be in photo frames.  I covered one side with tin foil for white/silver.  I set my key light as though it were diffused window light.  With having you light in one location, you can move the food or you can move to change shadow direction.

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For my background, I went simple.  I snagged some old boards from my father’s shop and just placed them on the dresser that was in the garage.

With Spring upon us, go garbage picking or go to a construction site and ask if you can salvage some scraps for cool and cheap backgrounds.  Or head to the home center and get some paint and off you go.

One tip: use flat paint, bare wood, or old wood.  Avoid anything with a shiny finish.  The sheen will just reflect the light and go too bright and get overexposed.

Here are some proofs right out of my camera.  I think I did ok.  I need some help in the food styling department, but for a first shot after a long time I think the setup works great: simple, cheap, effective:

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This is a really easy setup that you can do anytime and get yourself a station to shoot food or any macro product; a great thing on a snowy or rainy day!

That’s it for now.

If you are a portrait shooter, scroll down the last two posts for my two upcoming workshops on the Headshot in CT and in NYC.

Hope to see you there!