Food Styling: Pasta


When you are photographing food you need to make the image look so good you want to eat it. Having a plate of food in front of you is different … it can look sloppy and have no color, but our other senses kick in, such as smell and taste, so it looks appetizing at the time. However, with photography we lose most of those senses and can only rely on our sense of sight, so what the food looks like is extremely important.

This is where styling your food comes into play. The first photo only has pasta in the dish … well, that’s all you see, right? What you don’t see is that hidden below all those carefully placed mounds of linguine is a half-dome of styrofoam. The bulk of the styrofoam gives height to a bowl of pasta that would normally be flattened and caving in. After placing the styrofoam I took five strands of linguine and wrapped them around my fingers, then placed them down carefully so that none of the ends of the pasta strands were showing. I continued until the pasta was covering the styrofoam and looked balanced.

Next I took a pan of pearl onions and tomatoes that had been lightly sauteed and added each element to the dish separately. I used the live-view feature on my camera to help see the bowl of food as it will look when I take the photo – I found this feature to be very useful, btw. The last element I placed was the basil, and I tried to find the best looking leaves in the bunch.

I also added a few items that would typically be in a dining scene – the water glass and fork. The ice in the glass is actually fake – I got the ones in this scene from eBay, but you can find them all over the place (here’s a link to some simple acrylic ice cubes I found on The ice and splashes you see on high-end commercial photographs are most likely custom-made acrylic – they are quite pricey but worth if if you have the budget. When you are adding these additional elements you want to remember to keep it simple and relevant to the scene, and if you want to add color then remember to either repeat your colors or keep them  complementary to your food dish.


Pasta Shoot: Behind-the-Scenes

Pasta BTS

Here’s a quick “behind-the-scenes” photo of a pasta shoot I did this afternoon. My main light was diffused window-light, with some fill light from a Nikon SB-800 speed-light to the left, softened with a shoot-thru umbrella. I also used a large silver reflector to bounce some of the light in to fill the background. I used a PocketWizards to fire the speedlight, but removed the one from my 7D to capture the BTS image.

Tell a Story

Text MessageCanon 7D, Canon 24-105 ƒ/4L IS lens, 1/40 sec @ ƒ/4, ISO 800

Out of all the photos I took this weekend at my friend’s wedding, this image stands out the most. The reason? It tells a story. The groom really wanted a pair of Chucks, so the bride surprised him with a pair and hid them in his stuff, then he found them while he was getting ready for the ceremony and sent her a text message. I was lucky to be in the room the moment it happened … I just love the expressions in the background and the big smile from Jessie, the bride.

Pretty pictures are nice, and I like to think that I took quite a few of those at the wedding as well, but the photos that tell a story are the ones we will cherish the most.


JackCanon 7D, Canon 24-105 ƒ/4L lens, 1/400 sec @ ƒ/4, ISO 400

This past weekend I was in Irving, Texas photographing a friend’s wedding with my friend Rich Legg. The bonus for Rich was that he happened to have a lot of family really close by the same weekend we were in town, so he was able to spend the holiday weekend with them when we weren’t shooting the wedding.

The photo above is of Jack, Rich’s great-nephew, who was a very happy baby the entire time we were there … which definitely helped in the making of some really cute photos. :)

On a Plane

On a Plane

This weekend I’m in Irving, Texas to photograph a friend’s wedding with my friend Rich Legg. I was having some iPhone camera fun during the plane ride, while Rich was taking a lot of photos with his G11 (mostly self-portraits, lol!).

It’s been a really long time since I’ve photographed a wedding (I did a few when I was in high-school, way before digital was mainstream). Now I mostly shoot stock/portrait type work, but I’m confident that I’ll get some good stuff. Rich has a lot of experience shooting weddings so he’s in charge of the “traditional” images, while I get to run around with a couple of cameras (one with my Lensbaby firmly attached) and get the “creative/behind-the-scenes” shots. Should be fun!

Catching Up

Hear, See, & Speak No EvilNikon D200, Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 lens, 1/250 sec @ f/11, ISO 100

This weekend I’ve been pushing to edit a bunch of images I have sitting on my computer, most of them back-logged from earlier in the year and I’m finally taking the time to finish them and get caught up with my work. I still have quite a ways to go (more than 300 images still to edit and upload) but hope to have them all done in the next few months. My goal is to have over 5,000 images in my iStockphoto portfolio by the end of December.

This is one set of three images I thought was so cute … I really miss this little girl and her brother! They are the children of my good friend who I knew while I was in the Navy, and they just loved being photographed. (I have a whole collection of their images here in my iStock portfolio.)

Image in Use – “School Tool Box” Website

Image in Use

Wow, it’s been a busy week, but I thought I’d sneak in at least one blog post before the weekend. :)

I was notified by iStockphoto about an image of mine in use (the designer submitted it to the “Design Community” section on iStock). They used several photos but it was cool to see that they used one of mine at the very top of the website.

Click here to view the original design, and here to see the design on