Half-week homework: In the kitchen

If it’s something by which you’re affected, I won’t have to tell you: one of the biggest meals of the year is coming up tomorrow! Today is almost universally a day of massive preparation all across this wide country, so I’ll try to make this challenge as easy as possible to work into your existing to-do list. Considering the amount of cooking you’ll either be doing or observing, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Your photo challenge for the final week of November is to find inspiration in the kitchen.

No matter what kind of inspiration you find, your success won’t be complete until you share it with the rest of us. Be sure to post your favorite pics to our Facebook page or to Instagram tagged with #mymikescamera #halfweekhomework.

The most obvious way to approach the challenge would be with the mindset of someone designing a menu or marketing fresh ingredients. It’s oddly entertaining to treat the ingredients of your meal as your model (or models), and trust me—that meal will have a certain delight to it which you can’t find anywhere else! We went over tips for food photography last month, but here are a couple more.

  • Wash any fresh ingredients right before you shoot them, or spritz anything that can handle it with a little spray of water. Those jewel-like droplets add texture to the shot, work on the subconscious to whet the appetite, and help give a little extra oomph to the saturation of your subject.
  • Posing ingredients with the equipment used to prepare them adds a sense of action to your photo.

Another approach is that of focusing on objects themselves. Every day, everywhere in the world, every human must eat to maintain normal health. It’s always been so, and its only gotten more possible over time, so there’s always been a certain level of reverence reserved for the ritual of cooking and the way it thereby sustains other life.

The practical upshot of this fact is that a great deal of effort has been put into the development and ornamentation of the implements used to sustain lives—almost to the extent of fetishization. Got any charming or sentimental items in your kitchen? Arrange them as the golden hour draws nigh and get a lovely piece of visual art celebrating them. If you’re not into still lifes with clearly-defined subjects, the geometric forms of even simple cooking implements can make for highly intriguing arrangements… especially when you have glossy, reflective elements to complicate those forms (stainless pots, appliances in the background, etc.).

One step (or ten steps) further down the path of abstraction, you might also be surprised and delighted by the richness of narrative you can suggest using utilitarian subjects. A narrow depth of field, the strangest angles you can muster, and heavy post-processing will be your friends when extracting this kind of photo. And with all those knives and stabby-type tools, you can even get a little ominous…

PS—DON’T come see us tomorrow!

I hope it won’t leave too large a hole in your holiday, but Mike’s Camera will, indeed, be closed for Thanksgiving so that every one of us can enjoy this special time with family and friends. We all appreciate the opportunity!

MikesCamera.com is, of course, always open, and we’ll be refreshed and ready to keep providing you with the high standard of service to which you’ve become accustomed come 8:00 A.M. on Friday. (Yes, that’s an hour early, but it’s just for the day. Full-on extended hours won’t begin until December 14th this year.)

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