A food shoot inspired by nature and shot in-studio

A beef hamburger/burger with fries sitting on a table ready to eat - Photographed by Gold Coast/Brisbane food photographer, Paul Williams
Here’s some insight into how I like to approach my food photography, in the form of a recent example while shooting for new Gold Coast client, Jack’s Creek.

Jack’s Creek produce exceptionally high quality Wagyu and Black Angus beef. Because they’re an Australian company with true Aussie heritage, I’d sourced some native timber slabs that I wanted to shoot their cooked meat products on. While sanding these slabs down the weekend before the food shoot, I noticed that the tree canopy above me was casting beautiful shadows across the timber and I set about figuring out how I could recreate this light in the photography studio.

2 hours later, I had created some custom tools that faithfully mimmicked a complex gumtree canopy light that’s available to me any time of day in the studio. Once the lights were in place, this took the Jack’s Creek food shoot to the next level, by casting a distinctively Australian dappled light across the food products, giving their brand’s photography styling a completely unique and ownable look.
This is photography lighting that no other brand is doing in their industry, which is dominated by beef and other meat produce which has been shot against white, to make it look ‘clean’ – when in my opinion, this kind of art direction only makes meat look like it’s for sale on eBay.

Art direction and pre-production like this is one of the things that keep me busy with new business enquiries from clients looking for quality food photography – which is great. But greater still, are the Brand Managers for clients like Jack’s Creek, who recognise opportunity to do something new when it’s suggested – something special and then put their faith in us to still deliver on their brief. This is how not only brands, but creativity itself can improve, evolve and inspire everyone on the project.

Below are some of the results from the 2 day food shoot and I must credit the incomparable Pete May for his exceptional food styling, management, prep and cooking. Enjoy!

Nature's light canopy inspiration!

Nature’s light canopy inspiration!


A food photography studio table-top setup by Paul Williams of Gold Coast Food Photography, Australia

Reproduced in-studio.

Cooked beef ribs sitting on a table by Gold Coast/Brisbane food photographer, Paul Williams Cooked beef rump roast sitting on a table by Gold Coast/Brisbane food photographer, Paul Williams A raw cut of beef sitting on a table with herbs and spices by Gold Coast/Brisbane food photographer, Paul Williams

Gold Coast Food Photography joins forces with Pete May Food Styling

Having just completed two extremely successful food shoots together here on the Gold Coast, I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be working with food stylist, Pete May on a regular basis.

Pete is one of the best food stylist’s in the country and is without doubt, the most passionate foodie that I’ve ever shot with. His food knowledge is incredible, from the aesthetic through to the molecular and his background as a restauranteur / foodie is almost as extensive as his vast collection of props, textures and tabletops (which need to be housed in TWO sheds)!

Pete’s early work life involved styling for retail, which later influenced his food styling – developed further through studies in visual communication. Pete brings a very sharp eye for the less tangible aspects important to food photography such as colour palette, graphic shape and form and yes, even light. The textiles, propping and food management aspects of the craft that Pete brings to the set are something that I can’t overstate the value of as a food photographer, as this allows me to focus on perfecting the lighting and every other aspect of my job for the client.

Following on from very enjoyable back-to-back food shoots over the last two weeks, our food photography work together has already been noticed with some potentially very exciting news to follow soon from a Brisbane client!
In the meantime, keep watching this space and if you’d like to see more of Pete’s impressive food styling work, you can of course read later entries at this blog or view his folio at Pete’s site, here.

Food Stylist, Pete May, working on a food shoot with Gold Coast food photographer, Paul Williams.

Pete working his magic in the studio last week (please excuse the iPhone photo)!

Top 5 tips to avoid the pitfalls of Instagram for food businesses.

Let’s cut to the chase. Instagram may be a worthwhile aspect of a social media strategy for businesses such as personal trainers, but for food businesses, users must carefully consider their content. Posting photos without considering the below can not only be ineffective, it can actually damage your food/beverage brand. So here’s some tips to help out restauranteurs, cafe owners and other Gold Coast / Brisbane food businesses:

1)   A recent study  has shown that looking at too many food photographs can often DECREASE the viewer’s appetite. By looking at multiple food images, their senses become satiated and get ‘tired’ of the meals before they’ve even eaten one! To avoid this, give your followers some visual relief by uploading different types of images to your profile, such as venue, decor or produce shots.

2)   Following on from the above point, be sure to upload photos of the management and staff in the workplace. Humanising your food brand in this way is one of the most effective methods of building a restaurant or cafe that’s relatable in it’s day to day operation and people will want to see you succeed.

3)   Other than risking a well-deserved chair attack from a patron for being arrogant, flash photography is also making your shots look awful. Unless you’re using diffused pro studio flash, don’t use flash at all. Certainly not your phone’s built-in flash. The edge vignetting is enormous, the colour balance is thrown out, highlights blown out and unattractive shadows are created. Use natural light instead. If close to a window or light source, try bouncing some light back into the darker side of your plate from a white menu or serviette.

Another consideration is perhaps REconsidering our use of Instagram as a platform itself. Two top-line reasons that come to mind are:

4)   Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram increased the shamelessness of it’s disregard for your rights (SURPRISE!), by relinquishing you of your image rights:
By uploading your photo to Instagram, you now still ‘own’ the image, but have just given up your rights to benefit from it in any way (yes, a spectacular oxymoron and technically illegal in the world of copyright law). So should a competitor restaurant like your food image, for instance, they can now legally use it for their own f&b marketing.

5)   Instagram’s woeful conversion rates for business:
Instagram is the HQ of modern runaway narcissism and offers little else other than the self-sanctity of accumulating meaningless likes. For businesses, this does not convert to real communication, targeted exposure or solid leads and it therefore, for me at least, has seen me lose faith in the worth of the time investment. Put bluntly, if you see me post now on Instagram, you know I’m sitting on a toilet somewhere.

Having just slammed narcissism, it feels a tad hypocritical of me to post examples of my ‘quality’ food photography in this post now. So I’ll instead leave you with some samples of REALLY bad food photography from Instagram – courtesy of Martha Stewart, who does considerable and ongoing damage to her brand by posting horrific shots of food. So bad they’re funny. You can see more of them HERE.



Martha Stewart's horrific food photography.

Exhibit A:
Martha Stewart’s horrific food photography.

Martha Stewart's horrific food photography.

Exhibit B:
Martha Stewart’s horrific food photography.

Martha Stewart's horrific food photography.

Exhibit C:
Martha Stewart’s horrific food photography.