Doing a quick food shoot I go to a seafood restaurant that is making their famous seafood menagerie. It is served....or rather, it is poured on to your table. Crab legs, mussels, potatoes, corn and brine. While it taste good, the pile o' food doesn't represent too well. It looks like carnage. Like a lawn mower was let loose through the set of The Little Mermaid and a potato garden. What to do.
Photography is creative problem solving.
The first thing is find a good background. The checkered cloth looked promising but it was covered with butcher paper. The food is going to be too low and horizontal to get a good shot of the patio and window outside.
Luckily, I'm nosy.
Luckily, I ask questions.
I find out that in addition to the food being poured on the table you are given a mallet and a wooden board! Voila.
I arrange the mallet and wooden board. Sort of pre-light it. Get it close. When the food is about to be dumped, I ask them for tongs and try to arrange the food. Strong diagonals. I'm going to use the handles of the mallet to create a leading line into the photo. The crab legs are big, red and photogenic. I'm going to arrange the grab leg as the counterpoint to the mallet.
Finally I get to shoot. Head-on. Over-head. Trying to think of the food as a landscape and my strobe as the sun. Where do the shadows fall. Where is it interesting. If I saw this photo on the screen would it make me want to lick my dusty monitor.
All this in 10 minutes before the food gets too cold and the brine and the juices coagulate. Fun!