Back in January I wrote a post on photography food that covered the basics. The more you practice, of course, the more nuanced your understanding. Or sometimes things that were "invisible" to you because they were seemingly self-evident become commandingly evident while working one's craft. While shooting some promotional images for Yum For All, a vegan cookie company who's tasty tidbits are out-of-this-world delicious, a few self-evident approaches made their presence clear. So I'm adding on to my original post here.
In product photography is easy forget that it takes an inordinate amount of futzing. If you shoot events you learn to create captivating images in a fraction of second...
Portraiture is more methodical, but you're still working within a small window of time in order to catch authentic emotion. When shooting product, you need to slow down that clock. Play with the lighting-- both subtracting and adding. For that reason, it's easiest to work with continuous lights. You don't need the power of a flash because you don't need to freeze movement.
Cookies are an interesting challenge. They don't have the color variety of fruits or vegetables. That means you can't play with contrasting colors. They're also relatively small-- making it easy for other elements to overpower them in the image. And they're commonly recognized, minimizing any "wow" factor. For the picture above we went matching tone colors: the wood plate matches the almond slices in the cookies rather than contrasts them. The jar of almonds would have overpowered the cookies except for two things: we only see part of the jar and the almonds inside echo the almonds on the cookies. We introduced a little "wow" or unique factor by having the plate be a stump ring-- not something you see every day.
The image below is a little more traditional. We used a triad of cookies because three is visually pleasing, and it creates depth in the scene. Remember the January post where I said utensils bring the viewer into the image? Well the bite does the same thing. That single crumb does adds something remarkable: it makes you think the cookie was just bitten into. The action becomes immediate. Notice, too, how the bite is both in focus and the brightest spot in the image. The focus of a food image should always be on the spot where the viewer will take the next bite.
This last image puts the crumbs and the ingredients into the picture.
I'm not quite as fond of this one for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. The separation between the background and foreground cookies seems too far; and the chocolate pieces... I wish some of them were in focus. Maybe it should be a trail of chocolate pieces leading up to the front cookie, rather than a trail of crumbs.