How to choose a location for food & drink photoshoots

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Written by Ella Miller

Creative Food Photographer

Ella started her career working on the picture desk for Jamie Oliver where she discovered her passion for food photography. With over 8 years working in the food industry, shooting for print is one of Ella’s biggest joys.

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What do I look for when trying to find the perfect shoot space?

 

As a creative food photographer who shoots a range of editorial features, from magazines to cookbooks and big shiny commercial shoots, my ‘wish list’ for the perfect shoot space can be a long one but these five key things are always at the top whatever I’m shooting. I hope that they are useful to consider for your own shoots and space curations too. 

 

How-to-choose-a-location-house-for-food-photoshootsJamie Oliver Cookery School BBQ, styled by Sophie Mackinnon

 

Space 

This is the obvious place to start. Can I move around in the location with all my equipment and not trip up over myself or the stylists!? Not everything I shoot is small and on a single table top and I will often have to create a scene for an editorial brief or use a large lighting setup for a packaging shoot. Large lighting setups can also require quite high ceilings so this is worth checking with your location if significant lighting is going to be involved.

 

How-to-choose-a-location-house-for-food-photoshootsItalian dinner scene, styled by Maddie Rix

 

This Italian dinner scene was a test shoot to create a natural looking dining room. Post-shoot learnings include wanting to slide a more realistic floor under the table (something to think about if you have limited space on your set).          

 

Light 

In a dream world I love being able to use gorgeous natural light that shines in through large windows (which can also feature in the photographs). Sometimes however I will need to control the light with flash, or block it all out when using continuous lighting. If I need to be able to block all the light out, then I am looking for a space either with no windows or windows that I can fully black out with blackout blinds or material. Definitely no skylights! 

 

How-to-choose-a-location-house-for-food-photoshootsAn example of balancing natural light and using flowers to create shapes in the light.

 

Beauty

This is a real bonus on my wishlist. If I shoot in a beautiful location it will often inspire me to create even more beautiful photos. I’m always thinking “how can I use the space in my photos?”

 

How-to-choose-a-location-house-for-food-photoshoots

 

Kitchen

As a food photographer it is essential that any location I shoot in has a fully working kitchen. The kitchen does not always have to be aesthetically pleasing. But if it is then it’s a bonus as this gives us a second location within the space to shoot in.

 

And then comes the boring stuff…

The things that I have to have on a check list in order to make a shoot space practical: Are there enough plug sockets for me to run extensions through? Is the location accessible by car? Are there local shops where food stylists could run and get extra ingredients if needed? Are the doorways big enough to bring large kit and props? All these boring things are super important for any photographer, not just food photographers to consider. 

 

So, in a nutshell, my wish/checklist to find the perfect shoot space is:

 

Space

Light

Beauty

Kitchen

Practicality 

You can book Piccallo’s own expertly considered shoot kitchen, Cafe Noir, with Styled Home Studios.

 

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