Off camera flash


Autumn cooking

Food photography is one of the most difficult photographic techniques in commercial photography as it requires meticulous preparation, composition and lighting. We see photos of food every day, from the menu of a restaurant menu, to the packaging of products in supermarkets, or reports in food magazines.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

I made this cover for Comer y Beber magazine. In it you can read that the main theme was autumn cooking, although the issue also dealt with honey recipes and other topics.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

As can be seen in the previous image, the general composition is conditioned by the magazine’s masthead and the other texts included in the cover. Image and text must coexist in graphic harmony so that both stand out and complement each other.

On the other hand, styling and lighting are conditioned to the “target group” or “market” of the magazine. Each magazine is produced with a consumer in mind, where demographic criteria such as age, gender and socioeconomic variables matter a great deal. As a result, the same publishing group may have different magazines on newsstands on the same subject, but aimed at different audiences.

For example, Comer y Beber and Comer Bien are two magazines of the same publishing group, but the recipes, price of the food used in the recipes, styling, difficulty of preparation, graphic design and aesthetics of the photography are conditioned to the market that buys the magazine.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

Honey recipes

In the fall issue I also did a report on recipes with honey. It wasn’t the cover story, but it was interesting to solve the challenge involving recipes and honey.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

Lighting scheme

The “citrus salad with cheese mousse” was one of the most interesting dishes to make. The bright colors of the prawns, tangerines and oranges contrasted with the blue of the glass. As the chromatic contrast was already intense, together with the stylist we didn’t want to add more colors to the photo, so we decided that the background should also be blue. The color and texture of the backgrounds or the environment around the dish is essential to reinforce the styling of the dish and the lighting.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

In the above photograph we see that a large Bowens Wafer window was used as the main light, in a semi backlit oblique position. This soft, wide, wraparound light gave a low contrast of illumination and somewhat desaturated the original colors, but it was convenient because there was a lot of white in the cheese and a strong contrast would have been problematic. On both sides of the camera I placed three reflectors, two white and one silver, which helped to further decrease the contrast.

Bowens Fresnel

Finally I placed a hard effect light, from the same position as the main light to give some brightness to the products. This effect light had a + 1 EV of power than the main window light. I used a Bowens attachment with a Fresnel lens. This lens has the particularity of emitting parallel rays as I explained in another post. The glow, therefore, was going to be very punctual and directed exactly where it was interested in appearing.


The role of the “home economics”, or food stylist, is very important. In food photography, the photographer works in collaboration with a food stylist who not only elaborates the meals, but also defines the styling of the dish and, together with the photographer, defines the overall styling of the image. The photographer decides the best point of view for the dish presented and also illuminates to mark the character of what is to be shown.
In these photographs that I present today I worked with the invaluable collaboration of Ester Garcia, one of the best stylists in Barcelona with whom I have worked.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

As in other areas of commercial photography, there are also fashions in this field and styles change over time. Nowadays it is fashionable to take photographs with a shallow depth of field, that is to say that there is a very selective focus on some important element and the rest is suggested. Also, sometimes low points of view are chosen, as if they were at the eye level of a diner and close framing, not very open.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

The white balance must be taken into account in this type of photography. A cup of milk that turns out with slight yellow dominance will not be seen as pleasant to drink. And foods that are represented in the photograph at a larger scale than they are in reality, confuse about the real size of the food or the prepared dish.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

Finally, less is more. A plate of food that is not served in excess will be more elegant !

Let’s eat !

Lighting scheme


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No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.

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