Food and Drink in a Makeshift Studio

I recently produced a booklet for Metzendorff to promote their premium range of wines within Independent UK Supermarkets.

The idea was to show the wines alongside an easy to cook dish. To give the shoppers some inspiration for dinner and put a complimentary wine in their minds as they shopped.

As my studio lacks a kitchen, the shoot was to be conducted at the local Wine Bar(as I knew the owners quite well, we arranged to take over the restaurant for the whole of a Sunday when the business was closed). We had 14 wines to shoot and 13 meals. Thats a lot of pictures to take in one day, especially in a non studio environment. The lighting design had to be versitile enough to be able to switch quickly between the very precise lighting needed for the bottle shots, to a more evenly balanced scheme for the food.

We took over the bar area to convert to our makeshift studio (pictures at the end of the slideshow). The space was an issue here as a lot of the furniture was fixed. We put a 1m wide white seamless on one of the sturdier restaurant tables and placed two large diffusion panels on either side. The left hand panel would be my key light for the bottle photography, and I’d dial up the power on the right hand panel for the food shots. The right strobe was mounted on a GorrillaPod (I love those things) on a table, with the diffusion clamped to the far edge. With the left strobe we had to get a bit more imaginative. We ended up placing the light on a small Manfrotto stand on top of a table and one of the bench pews (taped in position of course – I tend to knock these things over enough when they are not perched so precariously). I also added a snoot to this strobe as we were getting a bit of spill onto the background. Towards the end of the day I added a third strobe on a boom directly above the table directed into the background, as halfway through the shoot I found I had a bit of time as one of the meals was taking a bit longer to prepare so I decided to shoot some overheads of the bottles to give us more options with the layout.

In all, taking the time to overlight the set-up meant we could be a lot more efficient on the day. As soon as a meal was finished in the kitchen I could change the flash settings on camera in the SU-800 and get snapping straight away with no down time moving lights. The shot that needed a different set-up was the cover picture.

In the end we shot 4 variations on each bottle and 3 for each meal to give us the most options for the print layout. All the photography was completed in on 8 hour sitting (441 exposures) and the first draft of the layout was completed 2 days later. The finished design can be viewed here.