Scrumptious in a frame | Sunday Observer

Scrumptious in a frame

Many of you must have heard, ‘You eat with your eyes first,’ which explains how important is presentation of the food you order these days. The visual image should be appealing to the eye before it hits those taste buds.

Food Photography has become one of the most favourite topics, especially on Social Media. When it comes to Food Photography it is said that, ‘A beautifully executed image of the food will make the viewer’s mouth water and his stomach rumble!’it is up to the photographer to use colour, texture, pattern, line, shape, and form of the food to capture the perfect shot.

This week Young Voice brings to you how Dihan de Silva who is one of the top food photographers in the country got in to Food Photography and his thoughts on what is lacking in people who are trying to pursue it as a career.

Why did you choose food photography? Is there a special reason for it?

Actually my career started off like that. Initially my plan was never to be only in food. Becoming a food photographer was actually a coincidence. This was not something I planned. For my final year project I did a black and white portrait book of people of Pettah. It went quite viral. I got so many positive feedback for that and was

offered free venues to hold an exhibition. But I did not want to do that because then it will shift my focus from food photography to portraits. I did not want to confuse myself. When I started shooting food there were only 2,3 photographers who did the same. But they were not only shooting food. My intention has always been to specialize in one field. I believe that if you are a good photographer then you have to respect one field.

How would you describe your first shooting experience as a food photographer?


My first shoot was so horrible. I did not even know what I was doing and I did not even know the settings of the camera properly. The lights used were the ones I made and not the ones people usually use for shoots. All the pictures turned out yellow. I did not even know white balance, till today. Whenever I talk to students I show those pictures and explain to them of how I started off. The pictures had no styling at all.

The client was a leading coffee shop in the country. I sent the pictures to them saying the pictures are horrible and therefore I do not want any money for it. If they can rectify colours and use, the processing go ahead. To my surprise the client said, “Go back, you learn and do the shoot again. We will give you another chance.” I have so much of respect for them for giving me that chance to prove myself.

What types of issues exist in the field of food photography?

One of the main issues is that food photographers are not respected enough among certain clients. People have to understand the value of someone who specialises rather than one going for the sake of it. Another thing is that some do not even know that there are food photographers and food stylists. They try to go on a more convenient way. Sometimes when I go for a food shoot they ask me, Can you do interior also? They are willing to pay, but they do not understand why, being a food photographer I cannot shoot interior. I do not have the gear for that. They think just because you have a camera you can take pictures of anything they tell you.

How would you describe the importance of quality photographs? Have you come across clients who have complained about the expenses they had to bear?

Yes. A lot of marketing companies of clients do not do research. The moment they hear the fee, they complain saying it is too expensive and that the directors won’t approve it. But actually they do approve when they know what they are getting is a quality product and they are using it to promote their brand. One of the recently opened luxury hotels for which I did a shoot, the budget went up to a huge amount because the client was concerned on getting quality pictures. Quality always matters.

Doing photography for passion is something and doing it for money is something. More you focus on one area and excel more then you will be recognized in that particular field and you will get more opportunities that suit the field you have chosen. But if you try to do everything then you will not be able to learn anything perfectly and do a good shoot.

What is the best thing about being a food photographer?


Well, we get to taste food and that is one of the best things. Being a person who loves food it is really a great thing. And also it is like the first insight to any restaurant. You get to see what is going to be on the menu. So many people have asked me whether they can be my assistant so that they also can get the chance to taste the food. After becoming a food photographer I learnt a lot about food. Also you get to dictate certain terms for certain restaurants especially with regards to presentation. Each an every restaurant I have worked with have done something of that sort and they have changed accordingly. But a lot of Chefs do not like it.

What would be your advice if someone is willing to become a food photographer?


My first advice would be to focus on what you want to do. You need to have actual passion to do anything. Passion does not mean watching a Master Chef. There are so many programmes for a food photographer to learn from. So if you have an interest, you should also be able to explore. And that does not mean being a food critique. You should be able to try and explore different cultures and places. Explore all over the country. You should be able to eat from a Kade or from a fancy restaurant.