Catering photography can be challenging, yet it is important from the caterer’s standpoint as it accurately represents the amount of work and effort invested in their client.

High end catering, such as a wedding, is more than simply placing a bunch of food on a table.  The presentation is important.  A significant investment has been made by the event organizer and the catering presentation should reflect that.

Yet, one rarely sees quality photography of catering presentation.  Typically, the caterer will take a few minutes after everything is set up, pull out their camera and snap a few pictures.  This is what they will use to market their food and abilities.  But, just like in any other food marketing, quality photography is important, and the typical event venue does not lend itself well to quality catering photography.  The primary culprit is light.  An on-camera flash is just about the worst light source imaginable for quality catering photography.  It is typically quite harsh and casts distracting shadows behind the subject matter.

In reality, quality catering photography, from a technical standpoint, is not any more challenging than any other form of indoor photography.  The challenge is time.  snapWerx has photographed many catered events and we have mastered the technique of obtaining quality photography in the short period of time allowed.  In many cases, we may only have 30 minutes – an hour would be a luxury – because the caterer is very often rushed themselves to be done in time.

At snapWerx, we generally follow these simple guidelines to achieve a successful catering shoot.

-Coordinate with the caterer.  It is in their best interests to work with us during the setup.  Frequently, there are a number of stations for various types of food.  We urge the caterer to try and complete as many stations as possible.  If there are five stations, we would rather see some of them complete with others less complete, ie, the worst scenario is to have all stations finally complete at the same time 30 minutes before guests arrive.

-Use portable lighting equipment.  At snapWerx, we use battery powered speedlites mounted on lightweight, portable light stands and umbrellas for proper light dispersion.  Using wireless flash triggering devices ensures no cables are hanging around to trip over and drag around.  The lightweight stands are easy to move around from one station to the next.

-Be flexible.  In many instances, some sections of a station may be complete, while another is not.  We will shoot the complete section and then come back when another section of the station is complete.

By being portable and flexible, we can provide many quality photographs of the caterer’s work.  This will help them tremendously in their marketing efforts and set them apart from their competition.