Thanks to the iPhone I now know the diets of my friends. Oatmeal with blueberries in the morning, that new ramen place for lunch and a home chef’s  sad attempt at sous-vide cooking. Instagram has made food photographers of us all, but not all photographers are created equal. Recently I had the pleasure of working with the extremely talented Dhanraj Emanuel on a shoot in Portland. He’s a premiere food photographer whose photos have been featured in countless publications. Samples of his work can be found on his website, I highly recommend you take a look to see what food photography has the potential to be.

cavory cookies

 Dhanraj Emanuel –

The shoot was at Departure, a modern, pan-Asian restaurant on the fifteenth floor of  The Nines Portland. Having the modern and minimalist location to ourselves gave us control to work with all the surfaces and available light. Huge open windows are usually a blessing, but there were times we were faced with too much light. Portland decided to do it’s best Southern California impersonation and reward us with crystal clear skies and blistering sunshine. Having the necessary grip equipment allowed us to modify the light to our liking.

Macro Food 4


A macro lens is a blessing when shooting food. I don’t own a macro lens, but the fine folks at were able to hook me up with the Canon 100MM f/2.8 for the duration of this shoot. A real pleasure to use, the 100mm f/2.8 is the only Canon macro lens with IS. The freedom an image stabilized lens offers is a must for my style of shooting, I want to be able to move and capture moments as they happen. Going handheld without IS on a longer focal length lens is a bad idea, a really bad idea. You’re not a Buddhist monk, you’re going to shake. Shake it off.

Macro Food 2Those little flowers were delicious.

Filming food is tough. You’re responsible to the chef to ensure that the complexity and beauty of their dish is captured. The food should look appealing which it does not always. Ice cream melts, cheese hardens and fat coagulates. The window of opportunity to capture a dish in perfect form is often very short. Burgers are a nightmare. Dhanraj and other professional food photographers deserve the credit they receive. Slapping on that EarlyBird filter isn’t going to land you in the Washington Post and neither will owning a Macro Lens. Get inspired, try something new on your plate and underneath your lens.