Photographing Christmas dishes
Esther Ling is a wedding, portrait and food photographer. She photographed a Christmas special together with a chef using the latest Panasonic kitchen products. Esther immediately knew the equipment she wanted to use for this shoot. ‘My go-to camera, the LUMIX G9, and the stunning Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens. It was a two-day shoot filled with food and fun.’
‘What’s not to love about food photography, especially if you’re a foodie like me? I adore the entire process of food photography, from planning and sourcing props to the setup, styling and shooting. Of course a bonus is being able to eat the food when we're done!’ Esther has always loved cooking and baking. ‘My mum was a passionate cook and baker so we grew up enjoying a lot of homemade food. I started taking photos of the food I cooked at home and created a food blog, mostly just for my own pleasure. Friends, many of who are professional photographers, told me that I had a natural talent and should specialise. Its them I have to thank for becoming a photographer.’
Food photography has its own challenges. ‘Apart from the obvious complications involved in photographing hot food and making sure it always looks fresh, the main challenge is one that people probably wouldn't think of: the styling aspect. I’ve been told I have a natural eye for styling.’ Photographing food means working quickly. What makes a good food photo? ‘It’s a mix of atmosphere, styling, props and, most important, the food has to look like you just want to dive in!’ Taking the time to prepare properly is essential. ‘Always, always prepare. As the saying goes "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail". I can't emphasise this enough.’ In her case, there are no second chances.
‘We don’t use mock ups beforehand to see if things work. We just hope and pray that our careful planning pays off and that everything goes according to plan.’ In 99 percent of the cases, someone else does the preparation and cooking. However, with personal projects, she prepares and cooks herself. ‘Next to planning and organisation, communication with the client is also very important.’
Esther and chef Helen Walsh prepared Christmas dishes using different Panasonic kitchen appliances. ‘Having perfectly prepared and cooked food is essential when doing a photo shoot and these kitchen appliances make it a lot easier to achieve perfect results. With food photography it’s not only important to make the food look tasty. You also have to make sure you have an appetising palette of colours and textures. Good light can help a lot and it’s also important to create the right scene and atmosphere.
All these different elements – the food, style attributes, colours and light – have to come together in a strong, well-balanced composition. Here, my LUMIX G9 helps a lot with its live preview, precise colour reproduction and fine resolution. This camera is perfect and just like the kitchen machines, its fun to use and easy to handle.’
Esther was adopted from South Korea at two years old by a British family. Showing a flair for creativity at a young age which served her well throughout school, it could be said that is was natural progression that she would forge a career in the photographic arts. Esther has a unique and instantly recognisable style that shows in her wedding, social location portraits and product photography. With an intuitive, spontaneous, and informal approach to her shoots, Esther works discreetly and instinctively to produce beautiful and natural images of the day. Her passion and signature style however is her exquisite food photography. She regularly lectures and writes on the subject and is in high demand for her food photography workshops across the UK.
"Being approached and asked to be a Panasonic Lumix Ambassador was and continues to be a real honour. I’ve met many many incredible photographers and members of the Panasonic family who have become great friends. Discover my imagery on my various social platforms below so pop on over and say hello, howdy & hi!".