Tips on Photographing Vegetables and Herbs
Photographing vegetables and herbs — whether for seed packets , catalogues , your photo library , photo requests or any other use — requires the photographer to consider how the viewer will respond to an image and how best to capture each plant for maximum appeal . Each type of plant represents a different challenge .
Some vegetables , such as tomatoes , eggplant , pole beans and squash , show off best when photographed on the plant . Be sure to examine them carefully to remove any blemishes . Since shadows from overhanging foliage can create harsh contrast on a sunny day , take photos on a cloudy day and use a reflector to bounce light under the vegetables .
Many herbs , such as parsley , chervil and cilantro , remain green in their mature stage and look very similar . An artfully arranged close-up of the leaf pattern is one way to pose the plant , but with herbs I find that some colorful props can enhance the appeal . For example :
• Pose a bunch of plain-leaf parsley beside slices of smoked salmon with chopped parsley scattered on the salmon .
• Place a bunch of cilantro beside a colorful mixed salad with pieces of the leaf clearly used as a garnish .
• Show chervil growing in a pot to illustrate how decorative it can be on a sunny windowsill . Pair with a small salad plate showing pieces of chervil leaves sprinkled on slices of cucumber .
LOVELY LETTUCES The lettuce family contains dozens of varieties that can look alike unless composed so their salient features are evident . For example , people like cos lettuces because they have a prominent , crispy midrib and elongated leaf that is green at the top and creamy at the base . Stand a blemish-free head so it presents a profile and fan out some of the erect leaves so the creamy base is prominent ; the result is an appealing image without props .
My most appealing composition of a butterhead lettuce like ‘ Buttercrunch ’ shows the head sliced in half like a apple so the tight , crisp , crunchy , yellow interior appears as mouthwatering as a melon sliced open .
Carrots can be tricky to photograph correctly because each variety has a distinctive shape . The variety ‘ Nantes ’, for example , should not be photographed with a pointed end , even though many of the roots you pull out of the ground may be pointed . Because ‘ Nantes ’ is famous for its rounded tips , make sure that all the roots you shoot are rounded with straight shoulders . Lightly mist them with water from a spray bottle to intensify the color .
Similarly , red beets and other root crops will glow with color when the skin is lightly brushed and misted .
Above all , make your composition look organic , as if the plant is freshly harvested from the garden . For example , store-bought tomatoes are often easily detected by a pale skin color , dried-looking calyxes and the lack of flowers or healthy looking leaves . To suggest a garden setting you might include a bushel basket of fresh-picked fruit peeking into the frame .
Derek Fell ’ s Vegetables – How to Select , Grow and Enjoy ( HP Books ) won a ‘ best book ’ award from GWA in 1982 , and sold more than 100,000 copies . Now out of print , Derek is seeking a new publisher to revise and reprint it for today ’ s growing interest in vegetable gardening .