Quick Food Photos at an Event

Photographing food at an event isn't always easy, as you can't spend a ton of time perfecting every detail. How do I make the best of it? It's always about the light.

Photographing Food by Award-Winning Chef

I had the opportunity to photograph an outdoor dinner event catered by Chef Tyler Anderson, award-winning chef. Tyler was nominated for the James Beard Best chef Northeast award for 6 years, and also was on the Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay TV shows!

Although I would have loved to photograph Chef Tyler at this event at the Hill-Stead Museum, the shoot plan didn’t allow for it…as I was to photograph guest & speaker candids. Plus Chef Tyler was also very busy cooking away in the mobile trailer! The event was a hit, with many guests enjoying music with their meals at sunset. 

How to photograph food fast!

In some cases, food can’t be sitting too long, and shooting dishes without being styled is a quick thing. After I finished photographing the candids needed by Hill-Stead Museum, I setup my strip box, which is a long, narrow softbox. I put it next to a small table where they’d put my food. The strip box offers nice, smooth directional light on my plate, and also adds a nice highlight down the wine glass, giving it a slick appearance. 

Exposing for the sunlight, and then adding extra light from a strip box, creates a nice lighting situation where I can just pop dishes in quickly and shoot. 

Because the setting for these photos was quite large (being outdoors, too), I was able to create different “looks” by shooting in different angles. 

best American restaurant in Simsbury, CT, offering beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, roasted onion, horseradish cream sauce, topped with Maine Lobster meat
Chef Tyler Anderson's beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, roasted onion, horseradish cream sauce, topped with Maine Lobster meat. YUM
zucchini cake with berry jam, cream, oat crunch
What's for dessert! zucchini cake with berry jam and cardamom oat crunch
headshot of ling messer commercial photographer

Meet Ling, the photographer

Connecticut native. Idaho graduate. Previous Oregon resident. Cowgirl-turned-photographer.

Story-telling photography business owner since 2013. Videographer since 2018. Photography with artificial studio lighting or God’s sunshine.

Wife, dog owner, and friend of many dogs and people.

Have an upcoming project for a client? Let’s chat. Whether it’s Zoom, phone, email, or in person over wine or coffee, I’m game. 


Ling Messer



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