shooting food with dario
Dario Milano of Milano Torino is a rare individual. It's not often that someone is a professional food photographer and a skilled chef and restauranteur. I first met Dario when I attended one of his food photography workshops a few years ago. This was a fantastic insight into the incredible amount of work, passion and attention to detail that photographers like him put into commercial food shoots.
I came away with an even greater appreciation of the professional food photography world - a world that's light-years beyond the glowing social trend of shoot-before-you-eat camera-phone 'photography'.
I was pretty excited when I found out that Dario had opened his new restaurant about a block away from my home. I knew that if the passion that I saw in the photography translated to the food, we'd be in for something special. I wasn't wrong.
I could go on about the food (which is amazing and typical of the Piedmont region of Italy), but I'll leave that to the professional food reviewers - I'm just a professional eater ;).
Dario obviously takes amazing photos of his creations and he regularly posts amazing, mouth-watering images to Facebook and his web site. I was pretty stoked when Dario invited me to shoot a behind the scenes session with him for one of his newest dishes, Agnolotti Piedmontese.
As a food photographer, what could be better (aside from being a chef) than having a working restaurant and commercial kitchen as a studio.
Dario shoots his Milano Torino food with the abundant natural light in the restaurant. We set up a small working space in the corner using foam core - white to reflect from the back and black along the sides to ensure that the light was only coming from the one angle.
Before we began, we prepared the shot list to make sure we covered every aspect of the food preparation. Always just a guide, a shot list is handy to make sure you don't forget any of the important shots when you're in the middle of the action.
We then went on to shoot each step in the sequence of preparing the pasta. From preparing the flour, adding the eggs, kneading the dough, filling and cutting the agnolotti.
Each step was meticulously staged and styled. Roberto, our chef and model, moved quickly but made sure that each setup was carefully prepared and shot to Dario's exacting standards before moving on.
Positioning every element is incredibly important in a series like this that shows each step from preparation to plating. Every shot is set up to convey the feeling of love and respect of each ingredient and document the hand-made preparation.
As consumers of not only the food but the images, we often don't appreciate the amount of effort that goes into making both look simple and delicious. It speaks volumes when the photographer has an intimate knowledge of the subject matter. Take a look at the results and I'm sure you'll agree that there's a huge difference between a snapshot and a great shot.
A big thanks to Dario and Roberto for a fantastic experience and excellent food. Surely your mouth is watering by now so, if you're in Sydney, do yourself a favour and visit Milano Torino, 2/33 Epsom Road, Rosebery NSW.
Check out Dario's full set of final images from the day here. A few of the shots I took on the day are below.