BTS: Purple Barley Porridge @ Modern General

Food photography is extremely challenging work, but we absolutely love it. It's interesting that food is something we all interact with every day yet photographing it can be very difficult. How do you evoke the taste and feeling of a dish with a picture?

Here you can see the photos we took of the purple barley porridge at Modern General, a delicious concoction of purple barley, almonds, brown sugar, banana slices, lemon zest, and milk. Owner and Chef Erin Wade wanted a series of photos for a potential ad and needed more than a "here it is!" sort of image, something that communicated the unique aspects of the dish.

That's the crux of food photography, using food styling and photography know-how to capture an image that tells a story. Otherwise you're producing something similar to the millions of "look what I had for breakfast/lunch/dinner" photos on Instagram. There's nothing wrong with that, it just typically falls well short of the needs of our clients.

We spent some time talking with Erin, getting her to articulate what she wanted from this set of images. Having worked with Erin quite a bit in the past we know that Modern General stands for simplicity, earthiness, and authenticity. That gave us the information for staging the dish in the appropriate way.

We stopped short of using all the tricks in our food photography bag, we opted to not use glue in place of the milk, for example. We wanted the image to feel "real", so that involved quickly assembling the bowl and photographing very quickly so it did not "wilt". We brought all the individual ingredients to our prep area (one of the tables at Modern General) and set up the shot nearby with lighting, bounce boards, horizontal tripod arm, remote trigger, and our Nikon D800.

Overall we were very happy with the images we captured, and more importantly, so was Erin. Food photography is a growing part of Narrative Media's business, and we look forward to sharing more images and behind-the-scenes stories in the near future!