This past weekend, I went to Cape Cod with my parents. My goal was to take the kind of photo one would see in a travel magazine or the food section of a newspaper, and I had the benefit of being able to use my dad’s nicer camera. On Saturday afternoon, we went to Baxter’s Fish & Chips in Hyannis. We ate the restaurant’s namesake entrée and I thought, what better way to capture Cape Cod than with pictures of cod? (Note: I later learned I was eating haddock. But the point remains that Cape Cod is an excellent place for seafood.)
In the first photo, I wanted to get the water in the background to provide a sense of place. Fortunately for me, a boat came into view right as I was about to snap one of the photos. I paid attention to the rule of thirds in framing the photo. The background was effective not only in providing a sense of place, but also in creating contrast, because nothing else in the photo is the same color as the fish or the chips. I also like the lines created by the railing and the shoreline. I think it’s interesting that those two are parallel and on an angle, while the fish and chips are parallel to the boat and straight.
For the second photo, I moved the food to the right, shot from the opposite direction, and zoomed in farther. This makes the food more clearly the centerpiece of the photo, showing greater detail and therefore making it look more appetizing. I love the way the light hits the fish and chips and the shadow it creates between the two. I think the shallow depth of field works well here in that the picnic tables provide a background that says “outdoor eating establishment” without detracting from the food. The downside to such a close-up is a lessened sense of place.
The third photo is very similar to the second one except taken vertically rather than horizontally. I like this one better than the second one. In the second photo, my parents and I might be the only ones around, for all the viewer knows. The third one, however, shows that there are other people sitting around, but by keeping them blurry, they don’t detract from the food. And the texture in the food does not suffer as a result of the re-framing.
I like all three of these photos for different reasons. I think the second one would be nice if food was the only important element, but so often, food is intertwined with a travel location or with people. The first photo shows location while the third shows people. In this case, I think it’s more important to show location than people, because Cape Cod is such a popular destination. I feel it is more important to show that the fish comes from water so nearby than to show that other people are eating the fish. Therefore, I believe the framing of the first photo is preferable. It tells a story by showing not only food, but also where the food came from.