Albie Bredenhann has been a full time freelance photographer for the past 8 years with a studio based in Silverton, Pretoria. He describes the perfect way to wake up in the morning would be in a beach hut on some tropical island but settles for his alarm going off at 4am, going to spin class before taking the kids to school. After that he’ll finally have some breakfast before starting work at 9am.
The Culture and Colour of India
We asked him that if he could travel anywhere in the world to photograph food he said that it would most definitely be India because of the plethora of street food, spices and fruit. “Combined with the culture, colours and people, one could easily spend two lifetimes there and not capture half of what the country has to offer culinary wise.”
Old Fashioned Burgers and Beer
Having been in the food photography scene for 8 years now, Albie was delighted to hear that his photographs truly make your mouth water for some good ol’ South African food. “It means I delivered on the clients brief ‘Make the people hungry’.” He admits that if he had to take into account all of the exotic, delicious dishes he’s photographed and tasted, that his favourite dish has to be a good, old fashioned hamburger with chips and an ice cold beer.
Albie says that throughout all of the elements that create the photograph such as styling, backgrounds, angles, lighting and editing… the FOOD should be the star of the show. The other elements should only make the food look better; not distract from it.
He continuous to share a few tips and tricks:
- Always have extra, fully charged batteries on hand
- Have enough (or more than enough) memory cards that have all been formatted
- A backup camera can’t hurt
- Extra tethering cables (if you shoot tethered), multi plugs and extension cables… at some point or another you are going to need them
- A food brush to ‘paint’ certain dishes with some olive oil to give it that fresh and shiny look
- Toothpicks work wonders as ‘scaffolding’ to hold up burger buns without compacting the lettuce
- A spray-bottle for those dew fresh droplets on fruit and fresh produce (it also works well as stand in spray for those times the lemon being squeezed doesn’t produce the desired effect)
- Unless you’re planning on shooting ice cream in a walk-in freezer, mashed potatoes mixed with food colouring works like a dream; doesn’t melt within seconds and scoops easily
Lights, Camera, Action
When it comes to lighting and equipment Albie says that it all depends on the food. If the dishes are more stylish he likes to make use of lighting equipment to highlight colours and textures better and for the simpler dishes and street food he prefers that ‘real life’ feel ambient light creates.
In Albie’s gear bag you’ll find the following gear:
- Canon 5DsR – For it’s insane resolution that won’t miss a single detail.
- Canon 17-40mm f4 L Lens – For it’s super wide-angle and minimum focusing distance of a mere 100mm giving him the ability of shooting in tight spaces like food markets and to include the background to give the dish some context.
- Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro Lens – For the more styled restaurant dishes where he has more time and space to work with. Setting up lights and make the food take centre stage and come to life.
- 2 x Canon 580 EX Speed Lights and ST-E2 Trigger – Allowing him to be completely mobile or when he doesn’t have a power source.
- 4 x Elinchrom Style FX400’s – With various modifiers are perfect when there are power outlets nearby and he needs his big guns.
- Circular Polarizer
- ND Filters
- Lens and Sensor Cleaning Kit
- Food shoots tend to start off with a dish selection. Whether it be the clients’ brief for an editorial shoot or scouring Pinterest looking to spice up your portfolio.
- After the dish selection the styling of the dish starts. What kind of plate will compliment the food? What beverage will pair best with the food? What type of glass will it be in? Things like cutlery, props the background all has to be meticulously picked out.
- Then, you have to decide what lighting setup will compliment the entire styled setup and what angles would show off the food at its best.
- Only when all of the above is finalised and ready, then the shoot starts. When shooting for a client, it is best to shoot tethered, it not only gives you more control over each shot but it also gives the client the benefit of viewing the images as large as possible.
- Once the shoot is done and the final images selected then you start the processing procedure. Tweaking everything from colour correction, white balance, contrast, shadow and highlights, saturation, sharpness and crops. He uses Capture One Pro for this part. Then, if need be, you can get rid of any marks on cutlery, finger marks or stray sauce drops using Adobe Photoshop. Keeping in mind, that less is more!
Past Experiences and Dreams for the Future
Albie says that his proudest moments throughout his career in photography was being published in an 8-page spread in South Africa’s Food, Home & Entertaining. The second was when he was commissioned by the Wall Street Journal and flown down to Durban to shoot their ‘Best Bunny Chow in Durban’ editorial.
For the future, Albie hopes to one day do a culinary trip around the world with his family. Experiencing all of the different foods, flavours and cultures each country has to offer; capturing it all in the form of a coffee table book.
We can’t wait to read all about it Albie, wishing you all of the best!