This morning I thought I’d have some soft boiled eggs. I haven’t had them in a while so I looked up cook times and followed the suggestions. Commenting on the photos used with the post about cooking soft boiled eggs, the person posting the recipe said to remove the shells before serving, something that I thought was a bit off. You see, my wife is British and every time I’ve had soft boiled eggs they have been served in an egg cup. I like egg cups! No need to fully remove the shell before serving just use a small sugar spoon, remove enough to get going and dig right in!
While I was eating my first egg the sun was coming in through the sliding glass door to our deck. The nice direct sunlight made the yellow of the egg yolk burst into color. It helped that the plate that the eggcup was on was a nice bright blue so the yellow of the yolk really popped. What a sight to see when you are enjoying your breakfast! Then a cloud pass in front of the sun and softened the light and brought out details on the egg, shell, eggcup and plate that were not as easy to see in the harsh direct light.
After seeing this I remembered what someone once said at a class I was teaching. “I read online that food should be shot on a white background to show off the food.” Mind you that class was walkabout class in DC and had nothing to do with photographing food. My initial thought was how boring. My second thought was, that I could not remember one time, in 18 months of working is a studio where we did a lot of food photography, had we ever shot food on a white background. Here at our house our countertops are mostly black with white and grey flecks of color. The plate is bright blue. The eggcup has a gold rim and a print of a dutch boy riding a bike on a white background. The wheat toast was a bunch of nice warm brown tones. Nothing I was looking at was white except for the eggshell, the egg white and the background of the eggcup.
My point here is this, in food photography, as in other photography let the light do the work for you. Change the quality of the light and the feel of the image changes. Use props and backgrounds to help tell the story you want to tell. Don’t get stuck thinking you have to shoot this subject this way because someone online said you have to. Play around! Besides, playing around is one of the big reasons we fell in love with photography in the first place?
For those of you who are thinking “where are the photos of what you saw?” Well, I was paying attention to the light. Storing the look and feel of the light in my memory banks for future use. Besides, I hate cold soft boiled eggs!