5 Food Photography Lessons from Anne Fishbein

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Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge Oysters at L&E Oyster Bar - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Oysters at L&E Oyster Bar
If you haven't been to the New School of Cooking in Culver City yet, you must be running out of excuses. Not only is the open-windowed cooking school across the street from Evan Funke's Bucato and Sang Yoon's Helms Bakery empire, it's also putting together some of the best baking and cooking classes in the city. Now, in an effort to expand their reach, the New School of Cooking has brought on Anne Fishbein for a month long series of workshops on food photography. You know, so you can take photos like this (and this and this).

Let's admit it, we all want to be more like Anne Fishbein. Not only has she been photographing for the Weekly for more than a dozen years, her work can also be seen in New York's Museum of Modern Art, at the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Fine Art. Her book, On The Way Home, chronicles everyday Russian life, including bakers, soldiers and children in the city of Yaroslavl.

While our hats are perpetually off to the fantastic Anne Fishbein, it is her work with food that most readers know her for. Her approach always seems effortlessly beautiful, and she's able to capture images with such vibrancy that they are often simply stunning.

And now, with a few helpful tips from the first week of her class at the New School of Cooking, you might just be able to find your own eye for photography. Here are five great food photography tips from Anne Fishbein to help you get started.

click to enlarge Taco at Taqueria Cuernavaca - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Taco at Taqueria Cuernavaca

It's All About Light

What does the term photography even mean? From an etymology standpoint, it is the study or recording (graph) of light (photo). And since we all had that one art teacher in middle school who blew our minds by telling us that color isn't really color at all, just the interaction of light and various elements, we know that light is the most important aspect of what we see.

The same is true for photography. Every part of your camera, no matter how fancy or old it is, revolves around the notion of light. So when you're walking around, looking at the world or a beautiful chicken taco, think about what light can mean for you and your photos.

See also: Petty Cash Review: Fancy Tacos and Mezcal in Mid-City

click to enlarge Chicken at Takatis Polla a la Brasa - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Chicken at Takatis Polla a la Brasa

Own Your Image

"Real photographers always shoot in manual exposure mode," says Fishbein. Why? So that you can 'own your image'. The idea is to give yourself as many opportunities to not only succeed, but to thrive creatively.

While auto features have a time and place, manual mode allow you to control a range of variables that would more than overwhelm even the most intelligent camera's digital brain. By manually operating primary functions like shutter speed, aperture and ISO, you can tweak your images in subtle ways to give you the perfect shot of flame-licked rotisserie chicken that you've been waiting for.

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