4 Food Photography Techniques You Can Learn From Chef’s Table France
Level up your Instagram food game by learning from the hit Netflix series
From the director of the highly acclaimed Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Chef’s Table isn't your average food documentary. Don't compare it to easy, one-minute cooking videos on Facebook or those wild, over-the-top videos called food porn. Believe it or not, Chef’s Table isn't so much about the food as much as it is about the chef—his beginnings, his way of life and how he paints his experiences onto a plate.
With that in mind, the way the food is presented in the series is a real feast for the eyes. Aside from chefs' inspirign stories, the series is also about stunning visuals. If you want to learn restaurant-level plating or professional-looking photos on Instagram, the Chef's Table lets you learn from the very best.
1. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
Normal folk like you and I don’t have access to the best and latest camera equipment. But we can rely on what we already have and make the most of it. No, don’t use flash because it makes the food look like a bleached mess while hard light brings out the shadows and a reflection of the light itself. Use natural light coming in from the window instead and watch it bring out the best in your dish.
2. Consider the plate.
A white dish on a white plate is just wasteful—photography-wise. The chefs themselves from the show will tell you that even the color of the plate is part of their responsibility so as to present the dish in the most appetizing way possible. If your dish is white, use a darker plate to show contrast. Learn about complementing colors and arrangements that catch the eye. Also, shoot the bowl from a top angle to reveal the dish completely.
3. Think outside the table.
Who says you need a to have a table to enjoy a feast? Francis Mallmann and Alex Atala are just two of the many chefs who literally take their dishes out in the open. One neat way of making your photo unique and interesting is to shoot the dish in the place where its ingredients were sourced—lakes, fields, even the lush greenery of a garden. This is also a good way to showcase a dish’s cultural background, or evoke a mood that matches its attributes.
4. Treat food like art.
If there’s one thing to learn when watching Chef’s Table, it’s that you should see a properly-prepared meal as a work of art and the chefs as artists. There is, after all, a good reason why your sushi is circled by such an elegant dab of soy sauce. In an interview with GQ, Chef’s Table producer David Gelb says, “The thing that really separates great food photography from not-so-great is really more about what you're photographing. Save your food Instagram for something really special.” In other words, don’t just play with your food—curate it.
Hungry yet? See more of these incredible dishes on Chef’s Table France on Netflix.