Some people believe that a professional food photographer is hanged by equipment as Christmas tree is hanged by expensive toys. Sometimes it’s true, but mostly it’s much easier. And in this article I want to dispel the myth about food photographers.

And it’s about settling light during the food shooting. You’ll be surprised, but in two cases of three, I use a single light source. That is why manufacturers of lighting equipment who would like to become my partners in the project Food’n’Chef or workshops sessions that I organize don’t like me. And a fact that I can shoot with a single light source, unfortunately throw cold water.

Although manufacturers of cameras with great pleasure give me technique on my months of travel, for example, in Hong Kong with Fujifilm X-M1 or a trip to Istanbul, where my son took my Fujifilm X-E1 and didn’t give me it back thought the whole trip.

But let’s back to the light. As I said, at my school and at workshops sessions of food photos I recommend to newcomer in food photography just to buy one light source with a large softbox. This is enough for position.

Do not make surprised eyes. Just trust me. And if your inner skeptic asks proof, here they are:

Фотография, сделанная на моем мастер-классе по фуд-фотографии в Кишиневе. Фуд фотограф Александр Сляднев для проекта Food'n'Chef

Photo is taken at workshops sessions on the food photography in Chisinau.

One source is located as close as possible to the subject on the left and a large baffler on the right. It seems that the light falls from a window, although it is the impact monoblock with a large soft boxes.

By the way, the photo on the cover of this article is made by using the same scheme.

Is it easy? Go ahead.

Мои любимые креветки, которые я снял для шотландского ресторана Whisky Corner в Киеве. Один источник света с небольшим софтбоксом 60х60 см. Контровое освещение. Источник света расположен под очень острым углом относительно съемочной поверхности. Рифлёный гриль скрывает тени и создает красивый рисунок. Поэтому, чтобы не уничтожить этот рисунок света, я не использовал отражатели. Просто? Идем дальше. Фуд фотограф Александр Сляднев для проекта Food'n'Chef

I shoot my favorite shrimp for the Scottish Whisky Corner restaurant in Kiev.

A light source with a small softbox 60×60 cm. Back light. The light source is located at a very acute angle to the position. Corrugated grill hides shadows and creates a beautiful pattern. Therefore, not to destroy the image of light, I did not use reflectors.

By the way, you should read a very useful article 7 ways to create an atmosphere in the food photos to force the slobbering of your spectators 🙂

Ok, simple? Go ahead.

Хумус для книги рецептов, которую я скоро выпущу в электронном формате. Фуд фотограф Александр Сляднев для проекта Food'n'Chef

Hummus recipes for the book, which I will soon release in electronic format.

Deep table top resonates with an equally deep patterns of hummus. I need the deep shadows to convey this image.

Therefore one source with a large soft box, at a very acute angle relative to the position is set behind and created back lighting.

Reflector is here only to minimize the deep shadow under the plate. It’s doesn’t effect to the dish.

Very easy, are you agree? Go ahead.

Макароны в кондитерской Make My Cake, в Одессе. На проекте Food’n’Chef ты можешь найти много десертов от владелиц этого заведения, по праву считающимся одной из лучших кондитерских Украины. Фуд фотограф Александр Сляднев для проекта Food'n'Chef

Macaroones in the confectionery Make My Cake, in Odessa. AtFood’n’Chef you can find a lot of desserts from the owners of this confectionery, because it’s one of the best confectionery in Ukraine.

One source of light. Large soft box is on the side. It gets the feeling that the light is incident from the window. The light from the soft box is at dessert, and at the background (this is very easy to achieve, just need to play a little with the direction of the soft box).

No reflectors because the room has natural light and I put the shutter speed 1/50, allowing me to capture some of it.

Have is easy yet? Read more.

Буайбес для ресторана Leo (Киев). Восхитительное блюдо из морепродуктов, объемное и достаточно яркое. Я специально создал контраст, использовав как фон пол заведения, тональностью приближенный к посуде, чтобы взгляд сразу выхватывал само блюдо. Фуд фотограф Александр Сляднев для проекта Food'n'Chef

Buaybes for Leo Restaurants (Kiev). Seafood dish is delicious and bright enough. I specially made contrast, using the floor as a background because it’s tonality close to the plate, to look immediately at the dish.

Let’s back to the light. As you can see, the scheme has not changed. Back light, large soft box and reflector. I only change the angle. It is not very sharp that time. As far as my memory serves me, I put the light at an angle of 45˚.

That’s all.

As you can see, you can take pictures of food with a single light source. Therefore, my recommendations are as follows:

– Buy yourself one light source with a large soft box (60×90 cm will be enough) and don’t be depend of the lighting of windows, which can vary during the day and it will not put at an angle of 45˚.
– Do not buy cheap Chinese lights. Its instability can spoil your photos.
– Use reflectors. Large and small ones.
– Put the source as close to your subject. The combination of proximity to the source and the presence of a large soft box will create the most soft and natural light, which is good for food.
– Use scheme, which I described in this article. There are only two schemes.
– You need to experiment a lot. Try different schemes, and learn from your mistakes, you do not need to be ashamed of it.
– Analyze how is the light of the photos that you admire and taste it to put these same circuits of the world.
– Be sure to read my article 10 recommendations for the food photographer

Now you know how to take pictures of food with one light source? 🙂 And I hope in the future in your portfolio will be a lot of photos with that scheme of light. Well, next time I’ll talk about how to take pictures of food with two light sources.

And believe me, if you can shoot with a single light source, if you have two of them, you can take pictures of almost everything 🙂