Photographing Lunch


A couple of posts back I mentioned a still life assignment I gave my beginning photography students.

Some might say this is way too tough one for folks who are starting out.

That’s true, but I think in attempting this, they will learn quite a bit.

Personally, I’m learning not to do any type of photography with food on an empty stomach. Sort of like, “Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach?”

Take a look at a few views of the setup. It will give you some idea of how small scale everything is.


  1. Canon 40D with 17-35 f2.8L lens
  2. Lightstand with adjustable arm
  3. Clothespins to hold leaves in place
  4. Props: white bowl, chopsticks, various bamboo utensils and wooden strainers
  5. Speedlite or external flash (for the more ambitious who want to light up the steam from hot dish)


This started off as a still life.

Along the way, I got ambitious and probably hungry.

Note to self: next time, enlist someone to take care of heating up food and preparing it, so that I can concentrate on just the photography.

I thought I could get this done and be eating my lunch in an hour.

Total time involved was more like 2 hours.

That didn’t include the tearing down and  cleaning up the mess or incur the wrath of my wife even if it was in the garage.

Don’t forget the kitchen!

Ideas for next time I try this:

  • Get bigger pieces and select best specimens of banana leaves
  • Shoot early when temperatures are still cold
  • Place bowl in front of dark background so that rising steam reads
  • Snoot and place off-camera speedlite/flash to just light the steam
  • Enlist someone to take care of the food
  • Don’t shoot on empty stomach!

If you think I’ve overlooked something, do suggest some. Here’s what I ended up.


2 thoughts on “Photographing Lunch”

  1. Jim,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m certainly glad someone is finding the articles useful. If you have some ideas on what else I can write about as far as photography is concerned, do let me know.

  2. Wow Peter… that was great! I’ve been reading your articles for an hour and have learned so much from you.

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