You're seeing it all over the food world these days, the top-down shot is hugely popular. 4-5 years ago people said it was "only a way they shoot in editorial". Now, so many of my commercial clients are eating it up. I keep waiting for it to get out of fashion, but my clients keep asking for it. I think it may be here to stay.
So what is all the fuss about? Why do people like these shots so much? Everyone may have their theories: It may be an Instagram generation thing or people love the idea of being able to get a bird's-eye view of all the goodies they're about to eat. I know I like it because I would go nuts if all my images were taken from the point of view of standing on the ground. I've been standing on tables and chairs to get a different perspective ever since my beginning photo class ages ago.
So you might think, "Great, let's shoot a few ourselves." Why not, but here is some advice before taking on the task along with some top-down images from some shoots this month at restaurants Cafe Eugene and La Mar (top two images):
- Shooting hand-held vs. using a large tripod. Shooting hand-held has the potential of giving you a serious backache by the end of the shot since you will probably be using a ladder and bending over. But hand-held gives you more flexibility to adjust the shot and change the angle quickly.
- Prepare more dishes than you think you'll need. You might choose not to use some dishes, but you can add the unused food to your hand models' plates. It's nice to have options.
- Give yourself adequate time on the shot list. Don't be fooled by what looks like an easy shot. These shots take lot's of patience and attention to details.
- Think of a certain theme for the food. Whether it's bar bites, or dinner entrees, brunch food, or 5 different kinds of ceviches, etc.
- Have some stand-ins. Start arranging plates and/or glassware ahead of time so you can setup without worrying about the food or drinks going bad.