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  • Food and Product Photographer, Rick Gayle: Howd They Do That?

  • [music]

  • Announcer: Aroma TV presents, "How They Do That?" Where we explore the world

  • of professional photographers and share their techniques with you.

  • Here's your host Mark Wallace.

  • Mark Wallace: Welcome to another episode of, "How They Do That?" I'm Mark

  • Wallace. Well, this week we catch up with Rick Gayle. Rick is a

  • food and product photographer. And he allowed us to come into his

  • studio and watch as he shot some food photos. And he walks us

  • through all the equipment and how he does it. So, here's Rick

  • Gayle. Well, thanks, Rick, so much for letting us...

  • Rick Gayle: You're welcome.

  • Mark: ...hang out in your studio. First of all, let's talk about this

  • studio. How long have you been here?

  • Rick: I've been in this space for three years. Prior to that I was in

  • another studio for 22 years. And then we and then we could keep

  • going back in time.

  • Mark: Back and back. And you've been shooting for 35 years together?

  • Rick: Yeah, 35 years.

  • Mark: That's awesome. And, so, what kind of work are you doing these

  • days? So, in a normal month or so, what kind of photography are you

  • doing in the studio?

  • Rick: Well, I specialize in still life, product, and food photography. I

  • love things that don't talk back. [laughter] And I've been doing

  • that my whole career, primarily. You know, some people work, but

  • mostly people look at me and see what I do, and they hire me for

  • still life, food, and product.

  • Mark: This funny how you usually tell people that if this one talk to me,

  • I don't want to shoot it. You're the opposite. [laughs]

  • Rick: I'm the opposite. We'll get along great.

  • Mark: Exactly, that's awesome. Well, in a minute... We have behind us,

  • you set up this nice still life set up. We're going to walk through

  • sort of how you do, the tools you use, all of those kinds of

  • things. But, before we get, I really was amazed of this studio that

  • you have, because our staff, we were looking around at the studio

  • and saying, this is so much clean and more organized. It looks just

  • so spectacular. Tell us a little bit about that, because you were

  • mentioning that there's a reason for that.

  • Rick: Well, as a still life shooter, you have so many small little tools

  • and so many little gidgets and gadgets and props that if you're not

  • organized and you want to look for that pair of tweezers or a

  • little dental tool, and it's not put in the right place, I mean

  • you're pulling your hair out, you can't find something.

  • Mark: I've done that. Yeah. [laughs] Exactly. So, what's the method to

  • all this organization? Is it something that you just sort of fell

  • into, or is it something you've learned from somebody? Give us some

  • tips for non-organized people like myself.

  • Rick: Really, I'm not that organized of a person. I think what it helps

  • is just that you have good assistants that you work with that have

  • seen wonderful systems in other studios. And I'm pretty open and

  • free with my assistants. If they think something works better than

  • what I'm doing, I'm all for it. So, this kind of open shelving set

  • up was inspired by one of my assistants and it works great, because

  • you can see everything. You don't have drawers. You don't have

  • boxes or cubbyholes. You can simply find stuff.

  • Mark: And look at everything.

  • Rick: And we just put it out in the open. Yeah.

  • Mark: That's awesome. OK, well, we've got some... product demo stuff that

  • you're going to do for us, so, you're actually going to show us how

  • you do some still life photography. You're going to talk about your

  • gear and things like that. So, let's not waste any time. Let's dive

  • right into that.

  • Rick: OK. I'm ready.

  • Mark: OK, Rick. Well, here's the set up. So, walk us through, show us how

  • you have everything set. Looks like you're shooting some brownies,

  • nuts, and some eggs. Very delicious food. So, walk us through what

  • you're doing.

  • Rick: OK. Well, first of all, I shoot with Cannon's 1DS Mark 3. I'm using

  • a pocket wizard. I'm tethered to my computer. And Dynalight is my

  • light equipment of choice. I used to use Norman quite a bit, and I

  • found these things amazing because they're so light to haul around.

  • Working with some grids. Working with medium soft box. A scrim.

  • This is tough Ross stretched onto frame, suspended by a C stand.

  • And I shoot tethered and my files open up in Bridge. So, my client

  • and I can just jump on over, take a look at it and make changes.

  • Mark: And are you using Live View when you look? And, so, is that instant

  • or is it a delay in your camera?

  • Rick: No. I don't use Live View, because the challenge with that is that

  • I can't look through the camera. So, that's basically my equipment

  • and my set up. We are photographing some brownies. And for the

  • purpose of this demo, I'm just recreating a shot that I did for a

  • client of mine that we work for. It looks messy, but everything in

  • here has a purpose. For me, lighting still life and food, you're

  • obligated to try to tell a story. Not only are you selling a

  • product, but you obligated to tell a story, a mood, and that

  • happens with lighting.

  • Lighting is not only pouring light on something, but it's taking

  • light off of stuff. I've got a variety of cards in here. In the

  • front, I have some silver cards which are placed to kick in some

  • ambient light from the strobes to highlight edges. This black card,

  • I'm using that to take some light off of the eggs and the butter.

  • Everything about food photography specifically is about texture,

  • color, highlights and shadows.

  • You really want to get that food just to look like it does in your

  • mind's eye. Very simple tools. A clamps from Home Depot to hold up

  • my cards, lead weights wrapped in white tape to keep my A clamps

  • from shifting around. One thing I think is kind of fun, I have a

  • little container of crumbs that the food stylist made for me, that

  • I will place into the shot here. Everything has a purpose in the

  • still life shot or food shot.

  • Everything is meticulously placed in there. I've got a tray here

  • where I keep a lot of my tools. Exacto knives, dental tools, dental

  • mirror for putting in little highlights, brushes, tweezers, these

  • are all tools that you need to create a shot that looks ultimately

  • like you walked into someone's kitchen or into a bakery, and you

  • saw it set up like that.

  • Mark: Awesome. Well, can you take a shot and show us the results really

  • quickly?

  • Rick: Yeah, I can do that. Every time I shoot, I'm usually making some

  • kind of tweaks and changes. This is rough end. So, let me just go

  • ahead and focus a bit, shoot one. The things that I look at are

  • certainly composition, my depth of field. Currently, one of the

  • styles that I really enjoy is using the selective focus to bring

  • foreground really tight and sharp and let the background fall off.

  • I would probably adjust the walnuts down here. Maybe roll the edge

  • of this paper up a little bit more. Certainly, put in my...

  • Mark: Spend some time getting it all locked in.

  • Rick: Yeah, getting it all locked in, exactly.

  • Mark: And let's talk about this tripod because it's a nice base. So is

  • something that you would, you know have you started with a

  • traditional tripod and then moved to this 'cause obviously this has

  • a lot finer control to it or?

  • Rick: The beauty of a monopod and certainly I come from the film years

  • where we would be shooting something like this on eight by ten

  • film.

  • Mark: Right.

  • Rick Gayle: So the eight by ten camera makes sense on here,

  • Mark Wallace: You're right.

  • Rick Gayle: But a little 35 doesn't, but the beauty of this is that I can raise

  • and lower the camera instead of tripod legs, this is on wheels that

  • are lockable so I can move the camera anywhere I want.

  • Mark: Right.

  • Rick: With a tripod I'd be going crazy, I'd be.

  • Mark: This is a Gitzo head, it looks like. It's a ball head and then

  • you're using a 24 to 105 macro lens, which is really, really nice.

  • Rick: Exactly.

  • Mark: Let's talk one more thing before we go, food styling. So we know

  • that you have a food stylist that comes in and does a lot of things

  • and you have a table set up so let's look at that really quickly

  • before we're done.

  • Rick: OK, sure.

  • Mark: OK, well now we're here and we're here with Kim, say your last name

  • because I don't know how.

  • Kim Krejca: Krejca.

  • Mark: Krejca. I tried it so many times and I messed it up so thank you

  • for joining us. And you are a food stylist.

  • Kim: Correct.

  • Mark: Alright now we have a bunch of little tools here, actually some are

  • big, some are small, you've got your pan, you've got Dust Off, so

  • what are some of these, because this one right here actually this

  • is a dental.

  • Rick: Dental.

  • Kim: Dental tools, which I rely on heavily.

  • Mark: Tell us about the dental tool, what's that for.

  • Kim: Well, for someone like Fairy Tale Brownies, which is one of our

  • accounts, because they are manufactured, they'd like them to look

  • like they're hand cut. So I usually just go in and I rough up the

  • sides and make them look a little more natural, maybe pull some

  • chocolate chips out or whatever it takes and this is like the

  • perfect tool, who knew dentistry, to do some of the finessing on

  • some of the food items.

  • Mark: And WD-40, what's that about?

  • Kim: That I use, not all stylists use that, I like the way that the oil

  • applies itself, it doesn't separate or bead up and it seems as food

  • sometimes has condensation, it just keeps a really even layer of

  • sheen.

  • Mark: So what kind of food will you spray that on? I mean, granola bars

  • or eggs or?

  • Kim: No, any kind of protein. I do it on some baked goods.

  • Mark: Bacon?

  • Kim: Bacon has usually got enough grease on it.

  • Mark: Got a nice sheen on it.

  • Kim: So we don't have to enhance that in any way, shape or form.

  • Mark: You can tell I really know nothing about food.

  • Rick: This kind of stuff really helps in what we were talking about

  • earlier about texture and color helps really describe the food and

  • give it appetite appeal, so this helps in generating highlights.

  • Kim: I was just going to say that.

  • Mark: Ah. So specular highlights come from those types of things?

  • Rick: Yes.

  • Mark: What about these three bottles right here? I can't really see.

  • Kim: We have glycerin in one, we have water in one and then we have

  • Freshinol, which is just a food stabilizer. It helps with things

  • like lettuce not wilting on set.

  • Mark: Oh, got yeah.

  • Kim: And a lot of that has to do with just, there's no exact science to

  • it, depending on how warm a room might be, what the photographer's

  • needs are to just kind of mix and match and make some of this stuff

  • work.

  • Rick: So the glycerin, water, typically for shooting a drink, a cold

  • drink, depending on what we want the condensation to look like, we

  • might spray the glass with Scotch Guard and then hit the glass with

  • a combination of water and glycerin. The Scotch guard helps the

  • water bead up so it stays there for awhile and then you've got this

  • drink that looks really refreshing with the water on it.

  • Mark: So help me out here because I have not done food photography, but

  • it sounds to me like a couple of things. First of all, you went to

  • school to learn how to do this, correct?

  • Kim: Actually, my background is in art direction and then I went to

  • culinary school and kind of blended the two talents, the science

  • behind food and then the art direction.

  • Mark: So it's not something you just wake up one day, walk out and go,

  • "I'm going to become a food stylist." You have to do some things to

  • get there. And then the second thing, so when I'm working shooting

  • beauty or fashion, I wouldn't dream of doing that without a

  • professional make-up artist, hair stylist, wardrobe stylist, you

  • know a team of people that can come in and do that for me. Is that

  • the same thing with food, you're not just going to walk in and

  • shoot without Kim or somebody?

  • Rick: Oh definitely because first, just in terms of how to make something

  • look good for the camera, that's what it's really all about. You

  • wouldn't be served something that looked like what we did. And in

  • essence we're, you know, we're like little liars.

  • Mark: Right.

  • Rick: But people need to see that food photographed as they see it in

  • their mind's eye otherwise they will not really want to order it or

  • buy it or whatever.

  • Mark: Like the secret of portrait photography, don't make me look the way

  • I am, make me look better than I am.

  • Rick: Exactly so.

  • Mark: Right.

  • Rick: Kim's the food stylist of choice, when she's available we work with

  • her and then if you really want to get specific in larger markets,

  • where they have products, lots of dairy products or ice creams or

  • chocolates, there are stylists that specialize in just ice cream,

  • just chocolate.

  • Mark: Wow.

  • Rick: It's incredible some of the stuff they come up with to solve

  • challenges, to make something look the way we want to see it in the

  • mind's eye.

  • Mark: And all of these bowls, mixing bowls, this is not for baking it's

  • for styling?

  • Kim: No, it's propping.

  • Mark: Oh, got yeah.

  • Kim: Rick was trying to execute, you know like a kitchen idea with this

  • Fairy Tale Brownie shoot and so it's just, you know tools of the

  • trade if you were in your own home kitchen.

  • Rick: And clients like to see a variety of styles. If they want three or

  • four bowls in a shot you want to present them choices because lo

  • and behold if you don't show one thing, it'll be the one thing that

  • they're asking for.

  • Mark: Right.