A Picture-Perfect Thanksgiving Feast


A Picture-Perfect Thanksgiving Feast

You know the drill: Mama slaving over a hot stove, sleep-deprived Uncle Dave putting the final touches on his deep-fried turkey, Grandma Evans baking her famous pecan pies, and Cousin Kevin showing up late with the cranberry sauce in the shape of a can.  Way to go, Kevin.

But before you ask your favorite Baptist granddad to say another longwinded blessing, let’s document this beauty. Grab your camera that doubles as a cell phone and Instagram this baby.

A few tips:

  • Let the window be your light source. Unless you are experiencing a dark and stormy night, God’s glorious sunshine pouring through the window makes the best light source for food photography. Your LED chandelier is pretty but not up to the task.
  • Pose the food. Food always looks best when back lit. Turn off the overhead lights. Position your dish in front of a window. Don’t aim at the window. Aim at the dish.
  • Find a pretty plate. Nothing too busy. And please, not a paper plate. A white or dark, solid-color plate is recommended. It will really make the food pop.
  • Grab a linen napkin and a fork. This is an old food photographer trick. Tuck the folded napkin under the plate. Rest the prongs of the fork on the edge of the dish.
  • Charger or no charger? That extra dish that you find at fancy restaurants is called a charger. If you are shooting your dish as a bird’s eye view, the charger might be nice. Just be careful it doesn’t dwarf the food.
  • Style the food. Stairstep the turkey slices. Fluff up the dressing. Gravy up the mashed potatoes. Dribble cranberry sauce, preferably not from a can, over the turkey meat.
  • Avoid the bland. The toughest part of photographing Thanksgiving meals is the sad fact that turkey and dressing is every bit as colorful as an old pair of Khakis. This is where you need to accessorize. Something green (broccoli salad or green peas.) Something red (cranberries, sliced red bell pepper, or cherry tomatoes.) Something orange (sweet potatoes, or baby carrots.) Pour a bit of brown gravy over the mashed potatoes to break up all the white.
  • Portrait mode. If your Smartphone has a portrait mode, use it. This is great way to isolate the food from a busy background.

For the ambitious:

If your heart is set on photographing the giant tabletop spread, think in terms of motion. Set your camera to video and pan across the bird, the serving bowls, and pies. Make a couple of passes just be sure. And have fun!

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