Matthew Klein's Food Photography Blog

Food Photography Blog #7
April 19, 2010, 8:50 PM
Filed under: advertising, food, food photography, Lighting, wine | Tags: , , , , , ,

I had the great pleasure of photographing at The Griswold Inn in Essex, CT last week.
The Gris, as it is known, has three dining rooms each with a different cuisine, all served from the one kitchen.
Frankly, I’m not used to working at an editorial pace. I like to make images that I refine,
then re-refine until they are as close to “perfectly imperfect” as possible.
No time for that here, but working quickly can create opportunities for spontaneity, authenticity,
and deviations from the usual.


Food Photography Blog #6

I photographed a new campaign for Tiptree jams & jellies this week.
The challenge was to show the texture, thick consistency and vibrant color.
This was accomplished using a 1″ diameter fiber optic that I had made about twenty years ago.
I drilled a hole to fit the optic through the background and lit it with a strobe head.
Key light was an eccentric 18″ bank light.
These will be used as full-page ads and large posters.

Food Photography Blog #5

Food photography for packaging.
I learned long ago that over 90% of brand decisions are made at the point of purchase.
This is an astounding fact,
the conclusion of which is that packaging design is the most efficient place to put marketing and advertising dollars.
Remember: At scale, good design adds very little to a national brand’s production costs.


LU Cookies & Biscuits packaging photographed for Kraft Foods:

Food Photography Blog #4

A word about selective focus: SELECTIVE.
The whole purpose of this too often mis-used technique
is to isolate the eye on a particular area of the photograph.
It has other uses as well, but they are less important.
It is also a method of ‘deconstructing’ the image,
as though saying  that the photograph is natural, unaffected,
not created with the great skill of a ‘professional.’
The point of this is that the food looks great and is appetizing,
without any affectation or modification.
But the point is lost it the focus isn’t carefully placed.


Taco photographed for McCormick Spices/Landor Associates

Food Photography Blog #3
March 29, 2010, 3:28 PM
Filed under: food photography, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

A Passover break from the usual formalism of this blog:

In the rural New Jersey town in which I grew up, we were in a very small minority of Jewish families.
My family did not observe the Kosher laws, but were keen practitioners of the religious customs.
One day when I was in second grade my mom packed my lunch with
a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich –my favorite.
She used extra thick bacon, a great Jersey tomato, just a little lettuce, and mayo.
Because it was during Passover this sandwich was special; it was on Matzoh.
I clearly remember walking into the house just after the school bus dropped me off.
My mom was already on the phone with the Rabbi,
who had called as soon as he heard the news thanks to a little pain-in-the-ass classmate.
“Yes, …yes… no….NOW JUST A MINUTE!!
You know very well that we do not keep Kosher, but we observe the traditions.
Matthew knows that on Tuesdays he gets a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.
This being Passover, it was on matzoh.
Anything else would have been hypocritical.
Thank you for calling. Good bye!”
BANG!, she slammed the receiver down so hard I can still hear it.
Then she turned to me, “Hi, Honey did you have a nice day at school?”


Food Photography Blog #2
March 26, 2010, 7:27 PM
Filed under: food, food photography, Uncategorized

What is it that makes a photograph appetizing?
I submit that it is texture primarily, followed by color.
Shape is a distant third.
When a chef, or cook, brings food to table the aromas (and physical presence)
create appetite, but the photograph doesn’t share that aspect.
In order to unlock appetite we have to find an analog for aroma;
it seems to be texture.
Color, of course is necessary,
but shape is only necessary for identification.
Another point: There is a law of physiognomy:
The eye is drawn first to the area of greatest contrast.
In constructing the photograph, I always try to make texture the dominant feature,
but in a positive, romantic way.
This means eliminating distracting elements in favor of supporting elements.

Sauteed Medley photographed for BirdsEye Foods

Food Photography Blog #1

Welcome to my blog about food photography.
Let’s start with a couple of general notions.
In my view, a photograph of food,
especially if it is made for commercial purposes,
ought to make you hungry. That is its purpose,
whether it is to persuade you to buy a specific product or select a brand.
This can be very different from editorial photography,
in which the purpose might be voyeuristic,
that is, to show an aspirational life-style,
or to provide recipe information.

Think of a photograph of a pie.
In a magazine the subject is the pie,
usually supported by props indicating a particular life-style,
or socio-economic level.
In an advertising photograph the subject, for example,
might be the flakey-ness of the crust,
made so by the client’s product, (in this case) Crisco.
The subject is flakiness, not pie.
In fact you might say that the pie is a prop for the flakiness.