How Should a Food Photographer Prepare for Winter?

Winter Food PhotographerWinter….ah winter… it’s almost here… Snow and bone chilling wind. Just thinking about the sub-zero temperatures and cold brings chills. I am not looking forward to this winter.

For a food photographer working with natural light, winter brings shorter days, less natural light and dull and gloomy days. Who needs winter here? But then, who can fight with mother nature? Not me. On both counts.

So now that winter is almost here, how should you as a food photographer prepare for winter?

Well since there won’t be much of natural light in winter, its time for plan B.

Plan B for Winters

So, what’s plan B? Well if natural light was plan A, plan B is artificial light. We have talked about artificial light here before. We have talked about lighting gear, building your own lighting studio and guide to buying light gear.

Having the right lighting equipment is the first step. You should start with answering whether you want to work with continuous lighting equipment or strobes/flashes?

If you have no experience with artificial lighting, continuous lights are a good start. These lights are easy to work with and easy to control for someone who is just starting. Overall continuous lighting is simpler to set up and cheaper when compared to strobes.

For instance, compare this continuous lighting which have two light sources with these strobe lighting. Do you see what’s included in the continuous lighting kit and how it compares to strobe lighting kit?

Strobes and flashes provide greater control in terms of quality and artistic aspect of lighting, but is often complicated if you are just starting. Gear required for an off-camera flash needs some serious research and understanding.

The next step is to learning how to use artificial light. Two key things to learn – white balance and capturing correct color when using artificial light. As we talked above, continuous lighting is simpler to use and control. Strobes/flash on the other hand can be frustrating when you are just starting.

Once you learn few basics about shooting with artificial light, its time to experiment. Get out there, well in this case, in your studio/area and start practicing. The need for practice can not be overstated here.

Shooting with artificial light does take some serious practice. First few times when you start using artificial light for food photos, white balance and color are almost certain to be messed up. And you shouldn’t be discouraged by this, almost everyone who is starting photographing in artificial light has to practice.

So, learn more about continuous lighting gear or strobe lighting gear as much as you can. Now stand up and start shooting.

Do you use artificial lighting? What would you like to learn about artificial lighting? Tell us in the comments below?

Photo by jaxxon

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  1. Well, it’s definitely true that the dark days have come, I live in a narrow street in an old french village house, there’s absolutely no light, sometimes I’m lucky just before noon. Although I haven’t had the money for buying lighting equipment it seems to work out OK, it’s wintertime, I guess you need to create some cosy shots and not just white and bright. Although I do really look forward to the spring :-) Thank you for all your tips, they have really been useful to me.


    Ayoe Sine

  2. O how I can remember those early days when I first used artificial lights!! Lol. All my photos came out looking all yellow.. Little did I know then about white balance or even about shooting in raw..;) but I love using my strobes now. Total control is ideal in a lot of situations!

  3. Yeah I know, it’s a real pain! I think it’s difficult when you have no light in the house. I need to study some more, unfortunately I don’t have the time right now, since I’m studying for my exams :-( But maybe that upcoming Christmas holiday will leave some time for studying white balance and so forth.


  4. It’s been hard to get good daylight since the time change! I use 2 CFL lights, one 85 watt and one 105 watts – they are 5500K daylight. I put them behind my diffuser just like I would for sunlight, then use the white foam board to light the shadows. All I have to do is some minor white balance adjustments in Lightroom.

  5. I’ve always had a hard time with artificial lights, but I recently purchased a f 1.8 lens and I find that it takes pretty good low light pictures. As long as I get the colour balance right!

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