Are you ready to get more done in less time? Gain confidence with your food shoots? Get really good at making fast decisions?
Before we get to the 'how', let's start with the 'why.' Why a 30 minute shoot? For me, it came from spending at least an hour, sometimes more, shooting 1 food item. The back and forth between what props to use, trying different props, hating the props, hating the photos and suddenly my entire day was eaten up with food shoots. And I was tired, frustrated and didn't get much else done in a day. Not ideal.
Once I started using a calendar to plan out my days, I wondered: what if I only gave myself 30 minutes to shoot? What would that look like? Turns out, I loved it. I produced images I loved and got a ton of other stuff done. I wasn't bogged down with shooting and editing all day. I was hooked.
The other big thing I learned? How critical it is to go into a shoot with confidence and curiosity. If there's anything I know for sure, it's how you're talking to yourself will determine your result. If you head into this exercise thinking: OK, this is going to be fun! Or, I can't wait to see what I can produce in 30 minutes! Or I'm about to learn so much about how I make decisions. You'll achieve a much better result than if you're 5, 10, 15 minutes in and start to tell yourself: I suck. This photos look awful. I'll never get better.
If you catch yourself in that second group of thoughts. STOP and DROP those thoughts. Replace them immediately. Those negative thoughts are NOT helpful thoughts, my friends! Even if they feel true. Switch to: "I'm learning" or "I'm growing" or "this is a new challenge."
The reason I like this exercise so much is because it is a challenge! It makes me decide fast, trust my gut and puts me in a very deliberate energy. And, it forces me to manage my mind and make sure my thoughts are really helpful. All good stuff for photo shoots and life! Ok, let's get to it.
Here's how I do it:
- Pull Your Props and Backdrops
- Set a timer for 5 minutes to pick out and pull your backdrop, linen and props
- Pull only 5 props, including the linen
- Place them together with the food - not set up or styled, just side by side on top of the backdrop. You're checking to see if everything works together, color-wise
- If something seems off, pull a different linen or bowl and make one swap at a time until I'm happy, within the 5 minute limit
- Even if I'm not 100% loving the combo, I stop what I'm doing an go with what I've got after the 5 minutes are up
- This point is key. In order to make this work, you have to respect the time limits. Take them as seriously as you would a meeting with Beyonce
- Set your scene
- Set a timer for 5 minutes and arrange everything - the props, food, linen
- Spend up to 5 minutes making tweaks - but don't stress. You'll make little tweaks and changes as you shoot
- Styling tip: I like to pick one main color and one supporting color when picking props and linens in a 3:2 ratio of main color:supporting color
- For example, I'll pull a white milk jug, white bowl, and have a knife with cream cheese and a blue flower and blue linen (same or similar shades of blue)
- Shoot & Clean Up
- Set a timer for 15 minutes to shoot. If you used less time in the previous steps, add on that time here
- Save 5 minutes at the end for clean up, hence the 15 minute timer
- Stick with one lens unless you have a very specific shot in mind and you have enough time left to swap out the lens and get the shot
- Based on what you're seeing in your photos, make adjustments to the props in the scene
- Think small, natural changes like cutting the cake and putting slices on the plates you pulled, taking a bite of the cake and grabbing a shot of the bite
- When the 15 minutes are up - stop and clean up!
After the shoot, reflect on what worked and what you'd do differently next time. Is there a certain area of composition or lighting you want to focus on next time?
No matter what, take care of yourself after the shoot. Meaning, don't beat yourself up. There's a huge difference between objectively assessing what went well and what you'd change and using this as an opportunity to tell yourself that your work sucks and you'll never get it. I promise, no positive, lasting change comes from being mean to yourself.
I can't wait to hear how it goes for you! If you want to deep dive into your photography and improve quickly - let's work together! I coach photographers 1:1 to help them take their food photography to the next level by giving them food styling and lighting tips as well as working on what's going on in their mind when going into photo shoots (this is the biggest and most important part - promise!). If this sounds like something you're interested in or you want to learn more, book a consult and we'll chat about what's working for you and what you want to change. Looking forward to hearing from you!