Food Photography Critique – Ice Cream

food photo of ice cream

Food Photography Critique- Ice Cream Shot

I’m finding it really tough to keep up with my commitment to make a food photography blog post every Monday, especially since I worked a seventeen-hour day yesterday, the day I normally set aside for food photography blogging.  I thought today I’d take an image from my portfolio and talk about it a little.  I think you’ll find it interesting to see what a professional food photographer thinks about his own image.

Food photography critique

I posted the final food photo as-is, and then another image of the same shot with some letters to give you a reference as to what I’m referring to in a particular area of the photo.  Some of the points I’m going to make are about what I like in the photo and what I wish I would have differently.  You might ask why I didn’t just change the things I don’t like about the photo when I was shooting?  Well, as they say, hind-site is 20-20.  Sometimes when you’re in the heat of the moment, (or the cold of the studio) you make bad decisions because the client is either bugging you to get onto the next shot or because you’re just tired of dealing with the shot, or in this case, because the ice cream is melting before your eyes.

The challenges of photographing ice cream

Most food photographers would agree that photographing “real” ice cream is probably THE hardest thing to photograph, and I agree.  So you can imagine how tough it must of been to shoot three containers of different real ice cream, all in the same shot.  This surely wasn’t the easiest shot I’ve ever done, but over all, I’m pretty happy with it…

Food Photography refrigerator room

This is the temporary refrigerator room I build when shooting ice cream. Notice my second-favorite assistant peeking out of the doorway…

The food photography set

To do this photo, along with the other ice cream shots we did for this project, I built a special 16’ x 16’ air-conditioned room inside my air-conditioned studio.  The idea is to drop the temperature in the shooting room as low as possible, in order to give me more time before the product melts. Building this room is a pain in the butt and takes some time, but if that’s what it takes, that what it takes…  I’ve heard of some photographers will actually rent a freezer truck (tractor trailer) and par kit just outside the studio and shoot in that.  Maybe I’ll look into this idea some day, but for now, my refrigerator room is the solution I’ve come up with.

Food Photography Critique - Ice Cream

Things I like and don’t like about my ice cream food photo.

A. The napkin – Maybe I could fix this in post or maybe it would be better left as is, but the way the napkin goes totally white in that one spot kind of bothers me.  Since this tends to be a high-key photo anyway, it probably bothers me less than it would of in another kind of shot. But it still bugs me a little and I probably would change it if give an “do-over”.  What I do like about the napkin is the fold and the little bend just to the left of the A.  I think is adds a little bit of a casual feel to the photo and maybe makes it a little less staged, which of course, it was…

B. & D. Are basically the same issue, tangents.  The edge of the peach and the end of the cherry stem just touch the edges of the bowl and little sticky thingamabob (technical food photography term).  I really should of caught this, but these kinds of things are easy to miss when you’re working with so many elements and you’re trying to get the shot off before the ice cream melts.  And sometimes some of these elements are actually moving between shots.  In the exposure before this one, if might of been fine, but in the time between this image and the last one, things melted and moved just a little.  I’m not saying that is what happened here, but I those things do happen and if nothing else, it’;s a good excuse to tell people… :o)

C. The texture of the ice cream – I like the texture of the ice cream, but others may disagree.  It’s a little frosted over, and that makes it look cold to me, but others might say that it doesn’t show the true color of the product.  I’m okay with it..

E. & I. Tangents – Well, almost tangents.  See how that stick thingamabob (“E”) is parallel with the edge of the strawberry ice cream’s dish?  To me, that’s a little too close.  It creates a little visual tension that I could of done without.  The same thing basically happens near “I”, but because there is more room between the two elements, I’m okay with this one… Both of these areas are very similar, but ones a little too tight and the other is just a tad looser and I think acceptable. Food photography is  sooooooooo subjective…

F. Lighting – I really like the lighting in this shot.  In my last food photography post, I talked about my fresnel spot and how long shadows that extended out of the frame seemed to be acceptable…  I think this is a really good example.    I think this lighting gives the ice cream great texture and an interesting mood to the photo.  I love the lighting with the exception of highlight side of the strawberry ice cream. (“H”)  That hot spot went a little too shot and I really should of caught that one.  I have a food photography lighting technique for taming those kinds of highlights, but I just didn’t get around to employing it here.  Bummer…

G. The spoon.  I have spoons.  It’s hard to light the little suckers and not get the entire studio in your shot.  I’ve gone of far as putting my head as close as I can to the set, without getting it into the shot and then seeing if the clients notices my face in the reflection of the spoon when I send them the image.  It’s the little thing that make life worth living….  See the dark area of the spoon?  That is the area reflecting up into the ceiling of my room.  If I would of noticed that earlier, I might of tried to either light the ceiling or place a reflector in that black area to lighten it up a bit.  What would have REALLY made the shot is if I would of lit the ceiling with a Blue gel, simulating blue sky.  That would of made me awesome, but I’m not quite there yet, because I miss those opportunities.

Food photography critique conclusion.

It’s always a good idea to critique you’re own photos. Sometimes it’s a little painful, but it’s always educational.  Just try to remember that this life is a process and making mistakes is the best way to learn.  If you’re going to be a better food photographer tomorrow, you have to work at it and learn from your mistakes today.  And maybe someday we’ll both be awesome food photographers!

* If you’d like to have other food photographers critique your food photos, there’s a great facebook page you can join that has bee created for just this purpose.  If you’re interested, check it out…

Again… I apologize for any spelling and grammar errors that my appear here. I like to write, but I hate to proofread… Feel free to email me with corrections. :o)




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