How To Up Your Food Photography Game According To Anne Fishbein

Everyone with an iPhone wants to be a food photographer these days. But there's more art to it than applying a filter on Instagram. Photographer Anne Fishbein has made a career of shooting "food porn" for the LA Weekly, and she's teaching a series of classes on the ins-and-outs of the business at the New School of Cooking to share some tricks of the trade.

The classes will cover how to discover your personal photography style, how to understand your camera better, and will include a tutorial on basic photography principles and techniques. A light lunch will be served during each session, which takes place on Sundays during October (that's the 6, 13, 20, 27) from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

We talked to Fishbein about how she got started, what her biggest shooting challenges are, and what tips she'd offer up to aspiring photographers.

LAist: Some of your portraiture and documentary work pre-LA Weekly. Can you tell us how you got into food photography?

Anne Fishbein: I describe myself as an accidental food photographer. It wasn't a specialty that was planned or one that I had a certain gift for. For starters, I love food. So it makes sense that some of my best friends are food writers and chefs. My entry into food photography started long ago without much thought simply because my good friends had a need for photographs to document their various food-related pursuits.

What's the most challenging lighting situation (or other scenario) to deal with as a food photographer and how can you fix it?

Since photography is all about light, the most challenging lighting situation for me is one without much light. Other scenarios which are tough are the ones without cooperation from other necessary parties, just plain ugly food (doesn't mean it doesn't taste good, but still...) or when security unleashes their snarling guard dogs while I'm shooting.

What's the most difficult type of food to photograph?

There are always new challenges but three that come to mind are, meatballs, giant plates of very busy food, and teeny-tiny food in very tall bowls

There's a big debate over flash vs. no flash when photographing food, especially with a phone. What are your thoughts?

Whereas I use lights quite often in other photographic assignments, I almost never use lights in food photography. There are a million great solutions out there and creating atmosphere with your own lights can be one of them, but not for me. I utilize and wrangle existing light and at the very most might pop a small strobe or use a flashlight during a long exposure, but that's rare for me.

What is the number one tip you could give an aspiring food photographer in L.A.?

I have two suggestions: First, try many different variations for each subject if time and opportunity allow. Second, if you want to shoot professionally, respect yourself enough to be compensated fairly for your work. If you give it away, you will hurt yourself in the long run and you'll hurt the community of fellow working professionals.

If you're curious about learning more from Fishbein, you can register for the $500.00 series here.