• Tina Witherspoon

Food Photography: Shipboard Chef


Last February, just before the pandemic changed everything, I had the opportunity to join Corinne, the Shipboard Chef, in her home kitchen for a day of cooking and content creation in support of her upcoming cookbook and television show all about cooking on the water. She did all the dicing and sizzling, while I snapped behind-the-scenes content of the chef in action. These are my favorite shots from the day.

The focus of her cookbook is blue cheese so all the recipes had some element of the ingredient, including her “Blue Cheese Stuffed Olive Garnished Bloody Mary.” And yes, in case you’re wondering, we drank them! You don’t dump a Bloody Mary down the drain just because it’s part of the set! Raw ingredients can be very photogenic and cheeses have a ton of texture, which is captured perfectly in the natural light. Kind of makes your mouth water.

Food is also a great subject for modern sill life images. This big wedge of blue crumbled with some hazelnuts and fruit in the background is almost like a painting. The key to getting these shots was actually the backgrounds. Photos staged in a kitchen look ok, but photos staged on a black background or marble countertop, or large wooden cutting board have that studio feel which elevates the image from snapshot to photo.

Photographing cold beverages is a challenge unto itself. You have to work quickly enough that the ice doesn't melt into tiny pieces, and before the glass starts to sweat too much or it won't look freshly poured. These tall boys were very cooperative subjects, and they recognized that the bleu cheese stuffed olives were the real stars of the composition.

The best part of a food photoshoot (other than eating it) is staging the scene — choosing the napkins and table cloths, deciding which angles capture the food in the best light, making it look like someone actually is getting ready to eat it — it's the little details that really grab the viewer's eye. We kept working right up until we lost the sun, and a little into twilight. This pasta was as good as it looks.

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