Shooting Food and Drinks

I recently produced a field segment for Check,Please! Northwest. The shoot focused on Hunger, a Seattle restaurant that features a great bar, and modern food. The shoot required b-roll neighborhood shots, a stand-up interview, b-roll shots of the restaurant, and close-up shots of drinks and food.

During the shoot I remembered a few good tips about shooting in restaurants: Lighting and lenses will make or break you. 

I was pretty thankful I brought along the Canon C300 as my main camera. The interchangeable lens system allowed me to switch out my lenses between interviews, b-roll shots and food / drink shots. The built in XLR audio inputs also allowed me to ditch the Juice link I usually use with my 5D and the subsequent synching in post. The audio was richer, crisper and easier to monitor. The C300 is now my go-to camera, while I continue to use the 5D for beauty shots.

I used the Canon 24-105 f/4 for my outside shots and some inside broll shots. PRO: The lens’ long range allowed me to stick with one lens and get a variety of shots outside and inside. CON: The f/4 was fine for outside in late afternoon, but difficult inside without additional lights.

For the food and drink shots, it’s hard to beat the Canon 70-100 f/2.8. PRO: The f/2.8 keeps the high quality resolution while capturing beautiful imagery in low light. CON: Yes, it’s ridiculously expensive, but you are able to get the close up shots that would not have been possible otherwise – I typically just rent it for a day.

Speaking of lights, you really need at least 3 lights when shooting in a restaurant – and they need to be soft boxes. Having a soft diffused light on either side will warm up the food, help pop colors, and allow you to capture details like steam, without blowing out fork shots or bright plates. A small back light emphasizes the food while separating it from the background. I used an LED light bank for the interview and it worked great. Many of the new LED light banks (including mine) have adjustable dimmer switches, color temp gels, and are easy to set up and tear down –  B&H Photo Video has a good selection.

The final product is below – enjoy!


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I was honored to be on the screening committee for this year’s NFFTY film festival. As you watch the trailer, keep in mind that all these films were made by individuals under the age of 23 – it’s unbelievable, exciting, and frankly pretty intimidating. 

The festival runs April 24 – 27 in Seattle at various venues around the city. For a complete scheduling breakdown, and more inforation about the festival, visit their website at


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Stuart Maclean

I had the pleasure of shooting and editing this recent profile piece on Canadian radio personality Stuart Maclean while he was performing in Seattle last month. Stuart is more than just a fellow Canadian and magnificent storyteller – he was my first-year journalism professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. The esteemed reputation of Ryerson’s Journalism school is lost on Americans – so it was a delightful experience to see Stuart again and re-live a little piece of my Alma mater. He’s just as warm and friendly as ever – but aren’t most of us Canadians?  🙂

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Geekwire Game Night

I shot this video a few months back with Aileen Imperial and it premiered last night on PIE – KCTS 9’s Arts and Culture show. Seattle is a very geeky city so it seems only fitting that board game night in a hipster bar downtown would be a huge hit. You can check out more Geekwire events at


November 22, 2013 · 8:28 pm

Ice Cream with a slice of PIE



(Myself, Molly Moon and videographer extraordinaire Aileen Imperial)

I’ve had the good fortune to produce some segments for KCTS 9’s Arts and Culture show PIE. It’s been a great experience and I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with some great people. The picture above is for a segment on Seattle-style ice-cream that will air Thursday July 25th on KCTS 9. You can also watch it online at If you like it, be a fan of their FB page at!  


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KCTS 9 Cooks

I edited a little “Behind the Scenes”video for my work  – KCTS 9 Cooks.  It was a blast to edit partly because the show was so much fun and the shooting was so good. There were a lot of different angles, movements, and short interviews to edit together – makes editing so much easier!

Visit to watch the video now!

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I recently looked through a photo series profiling the city and faces of Detroit in (see it HERE) The photos are hauntingly beautiful, yet also exude horrific sadness, despair and decay.  It’s not exactly news the city isn’t doing well, but I wasn’t prepared for the bitter faces of citizens that seem resigned to limbo – no where to go, yet no reason to stay.

Detroit isn’t a stranger to me. I have family there. When I was younger, I would often visit my uncle and aunt who live in Allen Park – a bedroom city that resembles any other postwar bedroom city in America.  Driving through Detroit as a kid, I remember being at a stop light and the driver next to us honking his horn and flipping us his middle finger. When I asked what we did wrong my uncle sighed “We drive a Honda.” Walking through the streets, I was told not to make eye contact or talk to anyone – a little unnerving to a girl who grew up in rural Canada on a tiny island that was very “Shire-like”. I remember riding the monorail in Greektown, visiting the Chrysler Building and looking out at the burned out lots scattered like patchwork throughout the downtown core. Back then in the early 90’s, there was optimism the lots would soon be filled, the economy would gow and Detroit would regain its momentun as a major player in America.

That did not happen, unfortunately. I wrote to my cousin Rich, who still lives in Allen Park, and asked if the entire city was really as bad as the photographs. He wrote back  “The photos in this slide show actually seem relatively benign compared to some of the ruins. Pictures of the ruins are common enough that people have taken to labeling them “ruin porn”.

“Ruin Porn”. 

He goes on to give 3 anecdotes:

1. “There was a documentary crew filming in the ruins of the old Packard Auto Plant which has been abandoned, stripped of copper and now houses addicts and criminals. The documentary crew was mugged while filming in the plant and their equipment was taken (I believe this was during the day). 2. Tim Heatherington who is a war correspondent who has covered conflicts from bosnia to africa to afghanistan, did a  piece for GQ and said Detroit reminded him very much of cities in Africa. 3. I read a national magazine that used the term “Detroit poor” as an adjective.”

What can be done? Unfortunately Detroit isn’t the only place in America in ruins. It is up to visual storytellers – photographers, videographers, filmmakers, to bring a voice to the unheard. To showcase the hidden. No sensationalism or ratings-driven agenda. Just document it and show it.

A few examples:

I recently watched an incredible short film entitled “Honor The Treaties” that examines the impact documenting life on the Pine Ridge Reservation has had on photographer Eric Becker. Take 10 minutes to watch the film. It will stay with you for months.

Lost and Found Films tells an engaging story of an elderly man squatting in detroit’s abandoned Packard Plant (yes, the same one my cousin Rich recounted about the mugging). The story is told from the old man’s POV and his resilience  and contentment at living among squalor is mystifying, yet endearing. He has found his sense of place in an environment unsuitable for most of the rest of us. It’s one of a series of videos that examine how “home” means different things for each of us.  Watch HILL at

Some filmmakers take ruins and repurpose them into art. Famed filmmaker / Director Brett Novak takes famed freestyle skateboarder Kilian Martin out of the skate video comfort zone and into the ruins of an abandoned water park. Martin is seen skating amongst abandoned concession stands, dried up wading pools and water towers on the verge of collapse. Archived footage of the park at its primie is intercut to show the glamor and beauty of what once was. It completely transforms our traditional views of what a skate video should look like, and how it should feel. Watch it at

Lastly is another slideshow on the “beauty” of Detroit ruins at

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