Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Hip Overhead Shot

A Salad, by food stylist Amy Nathan

If you look at what is being shot these days in the food world this would look typical…well the angle of view is typical, Everything!…yes everything is being shot from above.  It is oh so hip and cool and only the young know the secret of the overhead view and man is it easy with an iPhone!

Hey, I have a news flash, there is very little new and this is not one of them, so maybe it is more a history lesson.  I was into this view made really popular by the beautifully styled and photographed  "Salad"  by Amy Nathan and shot by Kathyrn Kleinman.  When I started shooting with Amy she was ready to move on from the overhead shot, not just stylistically but physically. Overhead shots the way we use to shoot was a real chore.  A 45 lb view camera floating above a set is not magic, it required building the set low to the floor, lots of heavy equipment, ladders, leaning way out there to see around the camera, flags, lights, cards, etc.  Amy is a wonderful stylist that collaborates with the photographer and gets the whole shot, she wants to see the angle of the pepper grinder and how that plays into the total composition so she is up and down the ladder with the photographer, leaning out over the set, no live view on a big monitor like we have today.  Hour after hour of  this is not easy on you.  I liked the overhead for a look that played with the flatness of the set and composition, but then it was time to move on.  It will be the same when this fad once again evolves to the next one, photographers and stylists having run the course of overhead shots will bring the camera down..after the last overhead fad the camera went tilted, then went really low, so the view was from the height of a salt shaker instead of the overhead fan.   Let them think they have reinvented the wheel, after all many on today's cutting edge where not even born when Amy and I where above the set.  With the proliferation of food photography on the web there needs to be more diversity and not a locked in style, there is room for some overheads and some low shots, the view should fit the food and feel of the set, that is why the overhead and backlight was so perfect for the Salad book,"form follows function".  
Mix it up, don't get locked into a "look" that can go stale. For true food styling inspiration please spend some time on Amy Nathan's website, really beautiful.

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