Adding flowers and seasonal produce to your food shoot
Successful food photography is all about telling a story. Transporting the viewer of the image to a time and a place, a venue or a season where they can imagine the sights, the sounds and smells…and of course the taste. Adding flowers and seasonal produce to your food shoots helps to tell a story – to take the viewers on that sensory journey so that they arrive at your recipe desperate to recreate those feelings in their own kitchen.
Can using seasonal produce and flowers really take your food photography up a notch? The answer is a resounding YES!
Where to find seasonal produce and knock-out flowers
I love taking photographs in Autumn – the light is magic if caught at just the right time of day, the food is my favourite kind of food – rich, buttery, comforting, moreish….what’s not to like? OK so the dark nights suck and the rain is not my friend but mostly…autumn is amazing. If you potter around local markets, forage gently in the countryside for leaves and berries (don’t eat anything foraged unless you really know what you are doing – my son used to walk around muttering “bird berries, not Leo berries” and it’s good advice) or even just raid your garden and you will be amazed at the precious photography props that nature offers up at this time of year.
Key seasonal items to look out for right now
- Autumn leaves
- Pumpkins and gourds – they’re not just for Halloween you know
- Moss – this can be found in a fabulous range of greens and greys
- Heather and brambles
Unless you are an avid gardener and adept at keeping the garden stocked with blooms all year round, flowers are less abundant right now. I rarely shoot food without flowers, they automatically add a sense of luxury and abundance, a certain generosity and ‘lushness’ (if that isn’t a word then it should be). If I can’t find anything in the garden then I order them in. Some suppliers send delicious little packets of edible hand picked blooms but sometimes only all-out glamour will do. This spectacular bouquet from Bloom Magic certainly didn’t disappoint and made a lovely housewarming gift for a friend after the shoot! Win-win.
In some shots I have incorporated the bouquet in full and in others used a single bloom here and there to add texture and colour.
How this food shoot unfolded…
In my garden I’m lucky enough to have a number of great surfaces to shoot on, stone flags, a gravel path and exposed brick walls.
But this time I wanted to take advantage of a garage wall that is covered in Virginia creeper. For a maximum of three weeks it turns a flaming orange and deep red before it’s beauty disappears completely.
Using interesting backdrops
The food item I was shooting was a simple yet delicious lacto-free rose-infused cheesecake topped with blueberries and dried rose petals. The trick was to take advantage of the wall, include some rich seasonal colours and not loose sight of the food! Here you can see the Virginia Creeper, just starting to change colour but the light is too harsh and needs blocking…
Creating light and movement
In the image above, we have a far better handle on the light, showing off the flowers to full advantage. The Virginia Creeper is echoed in the colour of the pumpkins and creates an eye-pleasing S-shape, drawing your eye through the image.
As we begin to introduce the pumpkins and beautiful-ugly gourds, a food story starts to take shape. You can imagine the rich scenery in full and that sense of generosity I mentioned earlier…that’s starting to take shape too.
But… the food is lost. It blends into the background. That fabulous treen wooden cake stand is overpowered by the gourds.
Making the food the hero
Here the food takes centre stage. The vintage glass cake stand proudly raises up the cheesecake and catches the late afternoon light beautifully. The orange from the Virginia Creeper is picked up in the main bouquet and is echoed in the foreground with the autumn leaves.
Using a white gourd, a single bloom removed from the bigger bouquet and a little waft of ivory muslin fabric in the foreground ties the colours together and draws the eye through the image. To me this image feels more romantic, like a scene from a vintage wedding. I just want to head right over to wherever that party is at and join in.
Adding a ‘person’ to your food story
Unless you are staging a full tablescape or food scene, often a hand will suffice to make the viewer even more eager to get in on the food action and try the recipe out. Take care when positioning hands…or shoot over and over until you get hand that looks delicate and not like a claw. The idea here is to make the viewer wish they were holding that fork or spoon and be about to dig in.
This pretty vintage fork captures the light beautifully and the hand sits delicately (although in an ideal world would not have two fingers on the top – but that is being reaaaally picky). A little strand of ivy gives the image movement and texture.
Most important of all though is to enjoy the food if there is any left after the shoot. Why not head over and check out our instagram feed for more images from this shoot!
*This shoot was a sponsored post in collaboration with Bloom Magic. The bouquet in the images was gifted for use in this shoot.