Food Photography Critique Video #1 – Apple Cider

Food Photography Critique Video #1 – Apple Cider

I thought I’d try something new here.  I’ve put together this food photography image critique, via a screen capture program, thinking that I could use the cursor to point out exactly what it was that I was talking about.  I think it worked.

The reason that I think this video critique is a valuable thing to the food photography student, is because it lets you inside the brain of a professional food shooter.  You get to see what he sees.  You get to see what he appreciates about an image and what bugs him.  So much of being a professional, is a way of thinking, and is difficult to communicate.  Hearing a professional critique an image, lets you see things that you may have missed on your own.

Some of the things I like about the image:

Use of negative space in the foot’s composition
Compositional flow of the photo
Use of color in the composition
The food styling
Lighting for the steam
The fact that the crisp shadows are not visible
The placement of the cinnamon sticks
The texture of the bread and napkin via lighting
The use of “stuff” in the background of the photo to give the impression of a real environment
The reflections in the pot
The way the spoon floats in the cider and curves into the frame
I highlights on the cider
The “things” in the cups

The things I don’t really like:

The plates on the bottom left of the frame
The Napkins on those plates
The placement of the one cinnamon stick
I wish I would be able to see the handle of the second cup

Please make a comment in the box below and let me know what you think of this type of content.  Was is useful?  Would you want to see more of these?


  1. Jared Nelson · December 22, 2014

    Awesome shot! I love the mood and the “story” you created. Great lighting to bring out the biscotti and steam and back lit atmosphere. Really great image!! You mentioned the crisp light can sometimes creating hard defined shadows….I find that using a honeycomb grid positioned real low and perpendicular can give you that awesome skim light while eliminating or at least reducing the harsh shadows.

    • Michael Ray · December 22, 2014

      Yes, that’s basically the effect I get by using my fresnal spot. My light has some additional benefits, but it gives the same look as a grid spot.

  2. Helen Conway · December 23, 2014

    As someone just getting into serious photography, I found this video most helpful indeed. I earned about diffrent types of lighting, about how to see and consider the small details in a photo and also something about composition and retouching. Not bad for one post? More please!

    • Michael Ray · December 23, 2014

      I’m trying to improve and I appreciate the feedback. Thanks!

      I just try to put myself in a novice food photographer’s shoes. When I was learning, even though I didn’t realize it then, what I really wanted to know is how the “expert” (used loosely) thought. What did “HE look for in a photo. I didn’t really understand what made a photo look good. I just know if I liked it or I didn’t… I’m glad this helped.

  3. Rob · December 25, 2014

    Thanks Michael, fantastic shot and explanation! I love the colors and textures and it certainly makes me want to pick up that glass and have some hot cider!

    I like this video self analysis for a couple of reasons:

    1) I think in order to grow as an artist (whether painter, illustrator, photographer, etc…) it’s necessary to pick a part your own work.
    2) Seeing a video analysis is a refreshing switch-up from a written article critique, plus, the video gives great ideas for photographers to look for when reviewing their own work.

    One of the things that I was going to ask you was the “chings” or those little hot bright lights on the glasses. Do you find that these little hot spots are more prominent when using a hard light as opposed to a softbox?

    Thanks again for posting for your readers and I wish you a terrific Christmas and new year! 🙂

    • Michael Ray · December 25, 2014

      For sure. The chings made by a hard light source are harsher. That’s true for sure. Thanks for the kind words. I just got a new microphone from Santa, so I’ll try to do more video and audio posts in the coming new year.


  4. Donna · December 28, 2014

    Wow, Michael, I am so very excited to have found your blog today !!!
    I can’t wait to explore more past posts. I love what I have seen so far. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.
    Have a Happy New Year

  5. Margaret · March 4, 2017

    I LOVE the video format. For me, this is a very educational tool. I learned a lot.

    • Michael Ray · March 16, 2017


      I didn’t get too much of a response to posts I did like that, so I didn’t do anymore. At the time, I thought it was a god idea. It’s hard to communicate in writing without referring to the specifics of the image. I might do some more of those… Thanks for the comment.


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