Holiday Party Ideas and Photo Craft Decorations

11/29/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

This holiday season, incorporate some of your favorite photos and photographic related items into your decorating, gifting, crafts, and holiday parties! 

Photo Snow Globes (tutorial), by: Gabrielle Blair
Photo Strip Garland (tutorial), by: Shelley Haganman 
Felt Polaroid Ornaments (tutorial), by: Katie Haddox

Film Canister Lights
Film Canister Xmas Lights, photo by: Dan Pope, lights by: Sarah Macfarlane
Candlestick Photo Holders, by: Brittany of One Charming Party

Other Ideas:

* Photo gift tags
* Holiday craft ideas from Kodak
* A photo (metal) star
* Photo ornaments (balls)
* Christmas tree photo cards
* Photo lanterns
* Gift wrapping with photo toppers
* Fork place-card/photo card holders
* Use flashbulbs for wintery decor
* Wrap your packages with film bows, camera straps, and more
* Other photo party supplies  
* Set up a holiday party photo booth

Why I Love Shooting With A Nikon F5

11/28/2011 3 Comments A+ a-

There are camera’s for just about everything and everyone.  Some cameras are meant to be basic and easy to use such as the Pentax K1000, Nikon FM10, and even the Canon Rebel series.  These cameras take great photos and can take a decent beating.  They were not however, designed for non-stop shooting like a photojournalist, sports shooter, or wedding photographer would need.

Then there are cameras that are designed for the professional full time shooter, like the Canon 1 Series, the Minolta Maxxum 9, and the Nikon F series.  I have shot with the Canon 1N, the Canon 1V, and I currently use a Nikon F5.  They are all insanely awesome cameras and each has its own features that separate if from the others and make it a true workhorse. 

Today I want to discuss the F5 though and why I use it.  The F5 was designed on what the working press photographer needed- fast, weather sealed, easy to use, and with a deadly accurate color matrix meter. 

shot with the Nikon F5

Lets start with the auto-focus on the camera... There are five focus points that are all  instantly switchable from the cameras back thumb dial.  You can easily go from one to the other without having to hit a select focus-point button first.  They are always active and ready to go.  They are also all linked to the spot metering system, so if you're in spot-meter mode, you are not stuck with just a spot-meter in the center of the camera, but one linked directly to your focus point. 

There are two AF modes, single and continues tracking.  The tracking is dead on and when I have a bride coming down the isle of a long dark church, I have no need to worry.  If I was still shooting sports, I would never leave the continuous mode, but with weddings most people are standing still so I use the single mode and just let it lock on to where I want and shoot.  In single mode, it also syncs with the flash inferred system so in a dark room, the AF is still perfect.

The motor drive is very fast also, with a number of modes from single shot to continuous shooting up to 8FPS.  I keep mine on CL with is continuous low speed shooting, about 3 frames a second if you keep your finger on the trigger.  The CH, continuous high will just rip through frames at 6 to 8 frames a second, but I don’t need that for weddings.  I like to make my 36 frames last!  The single shot mode is also there and I use that when I am shooting in my studio connected to strobes so that I don’t blow my bulbs by clicking too fast.

shot with the Nikon F5

On to metering... This camera has a 1,005 segment color matrix meter.  So unlike traditional meters that just look for reflectivity and 18% gray, this meter reads color and takes that into consideration when generating an exposure.  It has over 30,000 scenes that have been recorded on the F5’s computer system that it will compare your scene to. It also syncs with the data sent from your focus point with any D or G type lenses. This means it also takes into consideration what you're focused on and how far it is from the camera.  So it knows when you're shooting a sunset and you don’t want the camera to expose for the sun and make the image all dark because it has a database of knowledge to base your image on.

I like to be more in control then let the computer think for me, so I prefer spot and center-weighted metering modes most.  The spot metering is linked to the 5 focus points, so you can spot meter off of whatever you are focused on.  I use this mode a lot when  I am in tricky lighting situations where I want to expose for a face and not for a whole scene.  There is also the traditional center-weighted metering that focuses 75% of the reading from the 12mm center circle.  I use this about 50% of the time for my general shooting.

Another thing I love about this camera is that it is built like a tank.  I was out in NYC during a rain storm a few weeks ago and was getting out of a cab when the F5 rolled off my lap, out of the cab, and into the street and into a stream of water.  Water was rushing over it and it had a good 2 foot drop from my lap.  I jumped out of the car and picked it up and started to dry the camera with my shirt and some napkins.  I thought, “great I killed it”.  Then, I turned it on and to my surprise it was fine.  I finished shooting the roll of film in it and brought the roll to a lab to see if it was actually working right.  The roll came out fine and except for a little braising on the camera, nothing was wrong with it.  The weather seals on it kept the water from getting inside and its well built body protected the shutter and computer from the drop.  Try dropping another camera a few feet and into a stream of water and see what happens.  The F5 is a tank!

So who would like this camera?  The film shooter who shoots a lot of images and needs a camera that can take a beating over and over again without breaking.  This camera is a workhorse- strong, fast, and  accurate.  This is not a camera for a weekend away with the kids or family, because it is quite heavy and big. But for photojournalism, weddings, and sports, it's perfect.  The camera also eats up (AA) batteries pretty fast, as I find I have to change them every two weddings.  I would say about every 20-30 rolls is when I change them out.

Contributor Bio:  Joseph Prezioso is a professional photographer who has been shooting for over twelve years and went from shooting film, to 100% digital, and then back to film again. He says, "By trade I am a wedding photographer, I shoot over 30 weddings a year and this year they were all on film. My career started as a newspaper photographer though. I was 16 and like Jimmy Olsen. I learned on the streets shooting next to veteran photographers for the AP and Boston Globe (I worked for some weeklies but I got to cover a lot of cool events that the big news guys covered too!). Film is something I have fallen in love with, its the medium I learned on. Film will always be something special to me. It feels more versatile and creative in my hands then when I am using digital."


Free Shipping!

11/23/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

We're doing another free shipping promo for you over the long holiday weekend! Order $100 or more in used equipment anytime today (we've started the promo one day early for all of our email and social media subscribers) through Monday 28th and receive free FedEx ground shipping! Look for qualifying items with the "free shipping" banner logo next to them on

We hope you have a wonderful holiday! Remember that we will be closed tomorrow, November 24th for Thanksgiving, but will reopen again on Friday.

The Best of Winter

11/23/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

Here's a little roundup of some of our favorite posts from last winter...

* Flashbulbs for Wintery Decor
* Photo Greeting Cards
* Tips for Shooting Snow
* Vintage Photo Ads- Winter
* Vintage Photo Ads and Magazine Covers- Christmas
* Vintage Magazine Covers- Winter
* Shaped Bokeh with Holiday Lights
* Gift Wrapping Options for the Photographer
* Fun Holiday Photos
* A Different Kind of Photo Calendar
* Repurposing Lens Tubes to Make Snow Globes

We hope everyone has a fantastic holiday! Remember that we will be closed tomorrow, November 24th for Thanksgiving, but will reopen again on Friday. Blog posting will resume on Monday.

Calendar Giveaway Winner + Now Available Online

11/21/2011 1 Comments A+ a-

The winner of our recent calendar giveaway (on the blog) is: Danielle Parado (email me at jenn(at)keh(dot)com with your shipping address please!)

Didn't win? Be sure to follow us on your favorite social media pages, because we might be doing another giveaway soon!...

You can also order one of the KEH 2012 Photography Calendars. Phone in your order, get one at KEH if you're coming by for a pick up or drop off, or they are also now available for purchase online! You can get one HERE.

Photographing Teen Girls

11/21/2011 3 Comments A+ a-

It all started with the merging of two passions. The visual language of photography and a deep-rooted desire to change the world of teen girls. 

My masters' thesis in graduate school was how to help teen girls maneuver the rocky terrain of adolescence. In early 2009, when we started Teen Identity, we decided to go with our gut and strictly focus on teen portraits, but then focus even more specifically on photographing and working with teen girls. There were no other studios with that single charge. We didn't know if it would work. What we did know was that it was needed, it spoke to the core of my passions, and if it worked, it could have life-changing consequences.

That summer my husband (Dare Dreamer Media director/producer Ron Dawson) created a promo video for our new studio where I shared my heart for teen girls and how I wanted to use my photography to raise their self-esteem, build their confidence, and help them unleash the true beauty within. From day one, it was more than just pretty pictures or technical images. It was about the power of visual imagery to change the way we see ourselves and therefore, how we interact with the world.

We spoke at a number of photography conventions that year, showing the video as an intro for me. The reaction we received was unexpected. Photographer after photographer commented on how much they loved our "movement."

We thought, "Movement? This isn't really a movement." But it opened our eyes to a need in the photography industry as well. We then started getting email inquiries from other photographers asking if were a franchise, or if they could copy us. We knew then that what we were doing was perhaps bigger than what we ever imagined. 

“Every day young girls are relentlessly bombarded with images and messages in the media telling them that in order to be noticed, they have to wear less, say less, and be less than they were meant to be.” ~ Teen Identity VISION

That quote is from a 1-minute video we produced to highlight the profound negative effect media has on teen girls. Their level of self-esteem is intimately tied to what they see: how women are portrayed; the icons they look up to and how they carry themselves; and the shows they watch. We wanted to help teen girls realize that there is so much more to who they are than how they look or dress.

So we started our Media & Model Program. In the program, we work to achieve our objective to raise the self-esteem of teen girls by 1) producing fun and amazing concept photo shoots where they feel like celebrities, 2) producing fun and entertaining original YouTube video shows starring our girls team, and 3) giving them a voice via our online (and soon to be printed) magazine. 

Our tag line for the program is "empowering teen girls to take back the media." 

The latest project we completed was our most epic shoot to date—a fantasy-themed fashion photo shoot and corresponding original short film. The girls had a blast. Their parents got involved and had an amazing experience. To add to the experience, we produced a series of images where the girls look beautiful, bold and strong (as opposed to the way much of fashion photography depicts girls/women in dominated, victimized or over-sexualized poses and outfits).
You Too Can Make a Difference
As an artist, it is so fulfilling to know that my art is making a real difference in the world. The photography I get to create is indeed fulfilling. But in all honesty, it’s not all fun days and exciting shoots. There are times when I don’t want to care so much, when I wonder if it really matters, when I wonder if it’s worth the work. Whether it's dealing with price-conscious clients, or competing in a market where some photographers sell an hour-long photo shoot and a CD of edited high res images all for $40 (no, that's not a typo. That's $40, as in four-zero). 

What keeps me going though are the girls... my girls, as I call them. 

I find the strength to keep going when I get comments from a parent with tears in their eyes as they share how their daughter, who was completely in a shell due to severe bullying, is now confident, talking up a storm, and feels beautiful. Or when we receive a late-night note from a girl saying how she couldn't look in the mirror for a year, then after just one of our presentations, she looked at herself completely differently. Even when I have my doubts, that feedback makes it worth the effort.
Here are five tips on how you too can improve your craft, and make a difference: 

    1.    Be authentic. First and foremost, be authentic. Let the girls see you as you really are. Show them you're not all together. Make them feel comfortable knowing that all the awkwardness they feel is normal.
    2.    Offer more. Our Media & Model program is the key differentiator between Teen Identity and surrounding studios. With the advent of HD DSLRs, there's no reason you couldn’t be working video into your repertoire of services. Also, think about other ways you can offer more than just "pretty pictures." If not video, maybe it's more elaborate photo shoots. Maybe it's customized photographic art (not selective color though). You have to create something that is empirically superior to what the average Jane or Joe can produce with their camera.
    3.    Learn about the girls. A key way we help the girls "unleash their true beauty" is learning as much as we can about them ahead of time. We send them a questionnaire that asks them about their favorites shows, music and movies. We encourage them to bring samples of poses or "looks" from magazines they may want to emulate. We learn about their hobbies. All of this helps me direct them in the photo shoot in a way that elicits their inner beauty.
    4.    Sexy doesn't have to be sexual. We've been shocked and dismayed at some of the extremely provocative poses and outfits we've seen teen GIRLS in... emphasis on "girls." There are ways you can show a beautiful, dare we say even "sexy," without it being "sexual." It's about showing their true selves, confidence, attitude... not about showing skin, body parts or sultry poses that we all see in fashion magazines.
    5.    Give back. A surefire way to raise the self-esteem of a teen is empowering them to help others. Organize a charity shoot and get your teens involved. Last year we produced a PSA to raise the awareness of the sexual exploitation of under-aged girls. We even did a corresponding photo essay. One of the girls commented that she never thought she could make such a difference in the world. That is powerful stuff.

Who knows how far Teen Identity will reach. It may explode onto the world stage, be spotted by the OWN network, and literally change the world of teen girls everywhere. That’s our dream. But it may stay within the confines of our current reach through our Facebook fan page and locally in our small town and surrounding areas. Either way, we believe that if it dramatically changes the life and world of just one girl, ultimately, that is worth it. 

If you'd like to learn more about what we're doing with teens and how we can help you do the same with your clientele, visit and become a member of the Teen Identity Network.

Contributor Bio:
Tasra Dawson is an award-winning author and photographer who has reached billions of viewers internationally via appearances on NBC, ABC, Deeper Living, and Harvest TV. Her photography has been seen in galleries across the nation and her commercial work has been commissioned as far away as Korea.

Prior to launching her inspirational photography blog tasra mar/transform and Teen Identity Portraits & Magazine, Tasra was department and event photographer at Apple Inc. She is a sought after speaker for national conventions and conferences for photographers, filmmakers and authors, including teaching a master class at WPPI 2012 on Redefining Senior Portrait Photography.

Your Favorite Films

11/18/2011 4 Comments A+ a-

vintage developed film packing

A few weeks ago we had a post on a few different negative film options. It was a pretty popular topic and so I asked a bunch of our social media followers what their favorite films types were. Since we often get questions about what types of film people should use (especially from those just starting out in film), we thought it might be nice to share the list of everyone's favorites to help give some of you a starting point, or to introduce a few new types to those looking to try something different.

The top films (in different speeds) according to your answers are: Kodak Portra, Kodak Tri-X, and Fuji Velvia.

vintage developed film packing

And here's what everyone was saying about their favorite films...

BW - Kodak TRI-X, Color - Kodak Portra 160 and 400.

B&W- I love Fuji Neopan Acros 100 and Kodak Tri-X 400. For color- I'm partial to Kodak Portra 400 or Ektar 100.

Fuji Velvia 50, Fuji Provia 400, Kodak Portra all kinds, Kodak T-Max 100, Fomapan 100.

Portra 400 or Fuji 400h Such fantastic colors.

For color, anything Kodak. For B&W, anything Ilford.

My favorites depend on application...
Fuji Superia 400 is a good all around film, and if I'm not shooting an event my camera is likely to be loaded with Superia 400. I like Fuji Pro 400H (or Pro160) for portraits. I like Kodak Ektar 100 for landscapes and nature. The grain is very fine (not quite Velvia fine, but slide films are another thing).

Might be one of the few, but Walgreens cheapo brand film, 200 speed. It may be repackaged Fuji, not sure, but it's well saturated, and warm toned. Hard to find recently, as everyone's doing away w/film.

Cheap Fuji Superia 200.

Portra 400.

I really miss shooting Polaroid Time Zero film in my SX-70. What a fun and beautiful camera that was.

HP5+, D3200

Kodak Double X and Tri X are my favorites followed by Tmax 100 and cheap Fuji 200.

Portra VC 400...Portra 800 & Kodak UC.....also ... Ektachrome E100VS.

T-max 3200, pushed to 6400; shot w/ a 28mm lens. I love grits!

HPS+ Kodak IR (nearly extinct).

Ektar 100 or portra 400 .

HP5 for B/W & Portra 400 for color.

It's been a long time but Velvia 50 rules. I still have some in my freezer!

Why Velvia 50 of course!

I agree with the Fuji velvia 50 sentiment.

Tri-x, Delta 3200.

I used to shoot loads of that Chinese Lucky Branded film in 100, stand developed in Rodinal, the lack of an anti-halation layer made for some interesting results. Once you got the hang of exploiting this, you could get some cool effects when shot with older lenses. I also liked Tri-X because you can abuse the hell out of it and get usable images. Also Efke 25, because I love the look of it developed in both D-76 or Rodinal.

Ektachrome 100VS and G, Portra 160 and Reala 100F (still miss Kodachrome 64!).

Velvia 50 along with Provia 100.

Fujifilm Acros 100 developed in Kodak HC-110. Talk about sharp, crisp edges and fantastic contrasts and tones.

Velvia, Provia, Sensia. Just like Fuji`s slides, but I won`t turn down any other film.

Fuji 160C in 220 (or even 120 for that matter) is my favorite, but it might be extinct. Fuji is very secretive about it and has not released an official statement. It would be great if you carried film stock.

Fave films (still in prod, in order): Fuji Neopan Acros, Tri-X400, Efke R25.

Kodak Tmax 100 and 400, but Tri-x with R09 developer is a killer combo. Also Ilford Panf+ and 3200 Delta. I have been loving the R09 developer for all of the films.

Adox CHS 25 Art

Want more info. on film? Check out these other posts:
* Film Hunting- Where to Buy and Develop Film
* Film Format Guide
* Shooting with Expired Film
* Developing Film with Coffee and Vitamin C

Photos of the Month

11/17/2011 1 Comments A+ a-

Untitled, by: Raj Golawar
Leaves, by: claphoto
Hazelnut, by: Angel Pastor
Goodbyes, by: Chris Hoskins
No Parking, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Kodak Ektar 100
No Parking, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, by: Shawn Hoke Photography
Stone Mountain Sunset
Stone Mountain Sunset, by: HamWithCam
Luzes coloridas
Luzes Coloridas, by: domyzio
wine country touring
Wine Country Touring, by: rob704
Wake County
Wake County, by: Holden Richards
Salem, MA.
Salem, MA, by: Brian Maryansky
A long Day done
A Long Day Done, by: Larry Gooding

All photos submitted and chosen from the KEH Camera Flickr Group Pool. 
Start submitting your images for next month!

The Art and Craft of Food Photography

11/15/2011 4 Comments A+ a-

One of the most challenging genres for a photographer is Food Photography. Not only is it important to have good photo skills, but the subject (the food) must look delicious and appetizing. Food photography is about appealing to our visual senses, all the while, making the viewer long for the luscious morsels. This must be accomplished without the aromatic, savory scents and tantalizing tastes that make the food itself so inviting.

Have a concept
Food photography is also a still life image, you start with nothing and based on your idea or concept, you construct the entire scene. Your success of the image will be based on two factors: your concept and the execution, which are equally important. The fun for me is thinking of the idea and then finding the elements that will compose the scene. Sometimes I start with a solid concept (it could be a particular style, maybe I’m using a painting style – think Dutch Masters still life; maybe a fairy tale or literary reference, or even a place, such as Paris, could be the inspiration); other times I might go looking for an object that provides the inspiration; additional inspiration comes from looking at other images (not necessarily food). Having a strong concept before you begin will usually result in a better photograph. The photograph can be complex or simple, everyday or exotic, but whatever you choose, by working with your concept and theme, it will help to set the tone for the background, accessories, food elements and lighting.

Make it beautiful
The Scene: Once you have decided on a concept and the specific type of food, along with a color palette, the fun begins. The basic elements of your set up: background, accessories, props, etc., need to be sourced first. You should relish in finding or creating the scene, to bring your concept to life. This can begin with objects you have around the house and studio, a trip to the mall, antique shops, thrift store and flea-markets, or a bit of on-line shopping – for plates, flatware, serving utensils and decorative items; along with the occasional visit to the local art and home improvement store for a variety of background surfaces – paper, wood, tiles, paint, etc. I have sponge painted and white washed wood planks, carefully arranged marble floor tiles, and appropriated every surface in my home including granite kitchen counters, distressed wood end tables and paintings off the wall. I have found great hand-made and art papers and inexpensive tables that can be used as is for rustic scenes or painted to match a theme. You may need to purchase some things, craft a few pieces, rent others and even if you’re on a good relationship with a local store, you could borrow it for the shoot (if it’s for an editorial they can get a resource credit, if it’s for your portfolio – you could give them a print). Even though I try to keep the scene from being too overcrowded, I like to have several options of each element, and if I don’t use it for this shot, I’m closer to having what I need for a second or third shot. Your set up should enhance the food your photographing, not distract from it.

Note: If you are working with a prop stylist, they will be responsible for sourcing all of these elements, you tell them what you want, your concept and they find a variety of options. For example, if you want a white coffee cup, they may bring a dozen different options, from tall to small, from traditional to modern. If you’re doing the propping yourself, you should follow the same guideline.

The Food: The most critical and difficult part of the shoot is the food, which is as much about cooking skills as it is about art skills. After you have found and organized all the set elements, it’s time for the food. You always want fresh food. You should try to work with items that are in season (even though most produce is available all year long, some things are seasonal, such as figs), they are fresher, less expensive and usually available in abundance. If I need one apple, I will have at least 4, up to a dozen and possibly in different varieties and sizes. If something is going to be cut up or prepared – you need even more, it’s always a great idea to have a few for practice, a few for ‘stand-ins’ and then a few more for the final shot – this leads to having much more than you think you will use. If I’m doing the food styling, I shop for unblemished, photogenic specimens. I will dig through the entire bin of whatever I need to find the best examples; I even ask the produce manager if they have any fresher items in the storage area. If you are working with a food stylist, finding the best food and expertly preparing it is part of their job.

If you are going to be serious about food photography you should put together a resource file of local and online stores, markets, growers and suppliers that you can shop or contact when you need specific items, this should includes props and food.

The food preparation: If you are not working with a food stylist, you will need to practice. Professional food stylists have experience on making food look delicious and appetizing, but they also practice and experiment (examples, stand-ins). If I’m working with a chef or cook in a restaurant, I ask for a stand-in, letting them know it will take a little time to get set up. Then when I’m ready, I ask them to prepare the ‘hero’ and  tell them to make the dish look beautiful, and how to put it on the plate. I always want my scene set-up and ready for the food, this can be while the food is being prepared (if someone else is creating the food) or even ahead of that (if I’m creating the food item). I put something as a stand-in for the food while I am setting up the camera and lights. The stand-in could be something that is about the same shape and color of the food item, or the practice food. I place it on the same type of plate or bowl that will be used for the final image. This allows time to get the photo set-up the way you want it before the food goes in place. Test the lighting, choose the perfect angle and get the exposure set.

Keep it real
I'm a big advocate of using fresh, real, edible food, but I’m also realistic. Some foods don’t photograph well (such as Milk, white glue or hair conditioner can be a good substitute), other foods may need some enhancement. Brushing cut fruits, meats and moist foods with oil or glycerin can keep them looking fresh a whole lot longer; under cooking meat and poultry – so they don’t shrink and dry out; microwaving, moist cotton-balls and placing behind hot foods adds a bit of steam; spraying antiperspirant on cheese keeps it from deteriorating so quickly, but does make it inedible; using acrylic ice-cubes in drinks or sweating a glass with Crystal Clear and a spritz of glycerin are just some practical solutions for difficult subjects. If you’ve tried to photograph any of these items, you know what I mean.

What’s legal?
If you are photographing for your portfolio, a magazine editorial or cook-book, you have some license to use enhanced and artificial ingredients. In this case, the photograph is really only an illustration to go along with the article or recipe, consider it similar to a painting or illustration. However, if you are photographing for advertising uses, all of the food that is being advertised must be the real thing. If you are photographing cereal, the cereal must be real (okay, so you had a case of cereal and spent the entire day choosing the perfect corn flakes), but the milk and any other items can be substitutes. If you are photographing hamburgers for one of the fast food companies, all of the items on the burger have to be exactly the same items that would be on the purchased burger. That being said, you can take a bit of skillful artistic license - the burger can be specially undercooked to retain it bulk and moisture, the edge can be flattened to appear thicker; the tomato slice can be from a really ripe, beautiful specimen; the loveliest green curly lettuce leaf carefully placed; and from a case of buns, only the most perfect with sesame seeds glued in just the right places; all prepared by the loving and careful hand of the food stylist.

Don’t forget the details
While you are working on the set and the food, don’t forget the little details. What prop or accessory element will make the scene look more realistic, if that is your goal. Which items just clutter up the scene? Take them out. Does the food need some garnish, a little cilantro leaf or slice of lime perhaps?  Maybe a few crumbs by that cake or cookie, or a few bubbles on the surface of the drink or soup to make it look fresh poured and not so perfectly sterile.

Light it up
Without light there is not a photo to be made. So, choose your light and choose it carefully. It can be natural light or photographic strobes; it could also be halogen work lights from the home improvement store. It will depend on your budget and skills. Set the proper white balance on your camera or create a custom setting. Most food looks best with a soft diffused light source, a soft-box with strobes, or even direct the light through a white sheet or frosted shower curtain. I like to position my main light to the side of my subject and camera. I then add a fill light, which could be just a reflector (30x40” white foam-board or photo reflector), on the opposite side to add some detail in the shadows and soften the contract. Most food shots do not look good with extreme contrast and dark shadows. Indirect light from a window can also provide soft, beautiful light. Use a reflector to bounce some of that light into the shadow side.  Try using a small make-up type mirror to reflect light into specific places in the scene, I like the magnifying side to direct the light. Sometimes I also use a harder light source, such as a spot light or strobe with a honeycomb grid, as a secondary light to add some contrast and sparkle off of shiny surface. A light on the background can be employed to add some detail and depth in the background.

Take the photo (choose your gear)
As a photographer, I find myself getting caught up in the gear junky trend, but honestly, you don’t need a lot of gear to make great photos. In addition to the camera, you need a decent lens. For most of my food photographs I use a slight telephoto (70-200mm), this lens also has a close (or macro) options and an F-stop range of F2.8 to F32. This slightly long lens does a nice job of not distorting the subjects, it narrows down the angle of view (which minimizes how much background you need), and allows for a range of depth-of-field options from shallow, which makes one element stand out, or extensive DOF, if you need everything sharp. It also allows me to shoot an overall scene and come in close and tight for interesting details and textures. Keep in mind you don’t want your all of the photos to be all one viewpoint or style, so change it up. Also, try a range of angles, sometimes I shoot overhead and straight down on the scene, another shot might be at table height, making the food look majestic and monumental. The tripod is the unsung hero of food photography. By using a tripod, you keep the viewpoint consistent and can review the image to check for lighting, focus and styling (checking those details to make sure that piece of cilantro is in just the right place).

Finish it up
Today’s digital photography also implies that a photograph is not done until it goes through some post-processing. My goal is to get the image correct in camera capture and then touch it up and enhance it a bit in Lightroom and Photoshop. It could be because I come from the era of film, but I believe that the sign of a good photographer it to make the image in camera. My typical post-processing is to import and open the RAW file in Lightroom and then choose and rate the images from all those shot, finally to create a collection (if you’re not using Lightroom, you need to check it out, I find it an amazing tool). After the selections have been made I then move to the development section of Lightroom, first thing is to adjust the exposure if needed (exposure, recovery for highlight, fill light, and black point). I then check the white balance and make any adjustments, food looks better on the warmer side (tip: shoot a gray card or color checker in the first capture, use it to neutralize your white balance and then custom adjust). The next step for me is to adjust the rest of the color. I might add a little vibrance and saturation and possibly use the HSL tool to individually adjust some of the colors. I also use the crop tool as needed, the spotting (retouching) tool to touch up any minor, small spots, the graduate filter to lighten or darken a side or edge, and the adjustment brush to selectively adjust specific parts of the image. I might add a very slight vignette to darken the edges. Anything in the image that can’t be controlled in Lightroom will be taken care of in Photoshop, such as extensive retouching, adding or removing items, and removal of dust on glass surfaces. But remember, my goal is to get it right in camera and only touch up and enhance a few things in the post-processing.

List of tools
·    Camera, 70-200mm F2.8 lens ( with a Full-Frame sensor) or 50-150mm lens (for DX size sensor) with macro capability
·    Strobes, softbox, honeycomb grids, radio slaves
·    Home Improvement store halogen work lights, with cinefoil, and diffusion screens (white sheets, frosted shower curtain, rollux)
·    30x40” white foam board, photo reflectors (white & silver)
·    Styling tools & supplies: tweezers, bamboo skewers, 1 & 2” paint brushes (brushing crumbs from the set),  floral wire, quick tak, spray bottle, scissors, X-Acto knife, mirrors, aluminum foil, glycerin, oil, corn syrup, scotch guard, rain-x, Krylon – crystal clear & dulling spray

Find a few recommended books on Food Photography here-

Beginners Tip: If you are just starting out and don’t have food styling skills, nor can you afford a professional food stylists, start with fresh fruits and vegetables (work on cutting, slicing), food ingredients, dry goods (crackers, breads), and already prepared non-perishable food items. You might also consider working with a local chef or friend who loves to cook. Keep it simple. Work on your styling and photography skills, look at a lot of food images (even recreate your favorites, as practice)  and practice, practice, practice.

Contributor Bio:
Judith Pishnery began her passion for photography while in high school and continues it today. As a professional photographer, Judith works on assignment for editorial, advertising and corporate clients. Not satisfied with just assignments, she has always had a variety of personal photography projects in the works, which have been exhibited and collected throughout the South East. Additionally, she has been teaching photography for more than 20 years at various art colleges throughout Atlanta and leads workshops in the US and Europe. She is currently a photography professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta campus. After many years of teaching and working as a professional photographer, Judith recently completed an M.F.A. graduate degree. She currently resides in a small town outside Atlanta, not unlike where she grew up in Pennsylvania, with her husband and two dogs. To see more of Judith’s work and a schedule of workshops visit

The 2012 KEH Photo Calendar Preview and Giveaway!

11/14/2011 59 Comments A+ a-

Earlier this year we put out a call for entries for our first ever KEH Camera Photography Calendar. We had three great industry professionals as judges and a ton of great submissions. The calendars have been printed and recently arrived and we're excited to give you a preview of what's inside.

Please take a few minutes to check out  the photographs and all of the photographers websites (all linked under their photos by their name). Also, there's a giveaway at the end of this post, so be sure to scroll all the way down!

front cover
inside layout
"Blue Door", by: Geza Darrah
"Silver Lake", by: Rachel Carrier
"Cone Shaped Trees 2", by: Nora Vrublevska
"Four", by: Michael Reese
"The Fair", by: Mollie Clark
"National Reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca, Peru", by: Rian Satterwhite
"Untitled", by: Andrew Burgh
"Wig Wam", by: John Prince
"Chair at the Window", by: Otto Kitchens
"Highnoon at Midnight", by: Greg Zauswoz
"Super Glue", by: Rebecca Gutwin
"Union Station Concourse", by: Randy deKleine-Stimpson
"Fire", by: Hayley Warner
"Sunrise Over Gumtree", by: Jose Morales
"Antique", by: Chris Brooks
back cover

Want one of these calendars for free? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Monday, 11/21 and be automatically entered to win. One winner will be chosen at random. Please check back on 11/21 for the winner. And if you want extra chances to win one, we may also be doing another giveaway on Facebook or Twitter soon, so be sure to follow us on these sites also!

Update: You can now find the calendars available for purchase on HERE.