Looks good enough to eat, right?

By Angela James

For notable restaurants like Birk’s in Santa Clara that focus on an exceptional culinary experience, highlighting food through photography is a must. I had the distinct pleasure of attending Birk’s Spring seasonal menu change photo shoot session recently. I should mention that I started out my career as a photographer and spent many hours in the Test Kitchen at Sunset Magazine striving to make a dish look as great as it tastes, so this was a particularly special treat for me.

Shooting food, like shooting anything else, can be rewarding when it goes well and frustrating as hell when it doesn’t. Taking a methodical approach, however, can yield excellent results. When you get right down to it, it follows the same concepts that apply to photographing people. Paying attention to lighting, background, camera angles, composition, exposure, and “wardrobe” can produce great portraits, but it can also produce mouth-watering results when carefully applied to food.

Oliver Danby from Pixel West Media and Alyssa Williamson from Design Flair Studio, both from Pleasanton, CA devised an efficient system for handling the non-stop procession of food and drink. It allowed them to position,  light, and capture about 20 dishes and cocktails reflecting a vast array of colors. It was a well-orchestrated production as Maurice Dissels, Birk’s Executive Chef and his restaurant staff  plated each of the new menu offerings, and the food came straight from the kitchen, camera-ready.

It was pure joy for me to watch the shoot in action. I was taught early on that “A successful image is when the customer sees your photo and says ‘I’ve got to have that right now.’” I sure can’t deny that the plated subjects and leftovers made me and the whole crew very happy!  The finished images will be published on Birk’s website soon and making their debut on their Social Media channels this week. We will let you be the judge, but from where I was standing, I think we met our objectives!


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