American Diner Shoot

We went behind the scenes of the HL March 2013 food shoot, titled 'All Stars' - an inspired spread of luscious, mouth-watering gluttony. Our Food Editor Raphaella Frame-Tolmie decided on the stars and stripes theme and recipes for this food feature of our Small Spaces issue, which merged seamlessly with the loft-like capacity of photographer Sean Calitz’s apartment studio. Intimate stills were the flavour of the day with hearty portions that were minimally garnished and so scrumptious it took considerable willpower to withhold straying fingers. On the menu was pulled-beef brisket with corn bread, crispy pork ribs with cheesy grits (a Southern delicacy of  grainy corn porridge with shredded cheese) and fresh fennel slaw, turkey club sandwich with hand cut-chips and a cherry coke float, cherry pie with cream cheese crust, and last but not least, pecan-nut pie sundae. Cue stomach murmurs. Food is notoriously hard to photograph, as beautifully plated dishes don’t always translate well onto film. It takes a well trained eye to produce delicious-looking footage (and the direction of a bevy of stylists.) We asked on-set photographer Sean, what his top tips  for shooting were so that you at home can create an enviable recipe collection...

  • Always style through the camera.
  • You are creating a still life, so the background is as important as the subject.
  • Use colours and shapes etc. in the background that will complement the subject.
  • Use a surface that also complements the food; look at the subject and angle it in the best possible way so that the light shows the food at its best (usually side or back lit.)
  • Angle your camera so that you get the most interesting perspective of the food or dish.
  • Experiment! With digital there is no wastage so try different options.
Turn to page 102 of our March Small Spaces issue to see the irresistible end product... Text: Jess Suter