Inspiration

Black and White Food Photography (But Not As You Know It!)

Like countless other photographers, I just adore black and white photography. This simple medium has such powerful story telling and really allows you to focus on the emotion of the overall image. As food photography is all about storytelling and the emotional connection we have with food, it’s incredibly strange (to me) that black and white food photography just looks so wrong.

As part of the ever lingering quote that resonates in my head from Penny De Los Santos about presenting yourself with your dream assignment, I’ve been working on a project for nearly 17 weeks that showcases black and white food photography that is actually beautiful.

Black and White Food Photography

Black and white are two words that don’t seemingly go together in food photography. It’s most likely because food is part of what keeps us alive and our brains are so hardwired when it comes to how food should look, feel and taste that colour and texture plays such an important role. I’m sure we’ve all experienced just how ‘wrong’ images of food can look in a black and white medium. If you’ve ever accidentally applied a black and white filter whilst editing, you’ll know what I mean. You can’t press the undo button fast enough.

Yet despite that, I am still so fascinated by the idea of Black and White Food Photography. I wanted to take the concept and shoot something beautiful, something that didn’t instantly repulse the brain.

So I decided to flip the term to create Photography of Black and White Food. Same same but different. Actually beautiful.

Now I will be the first to admit that this idea isn’t unique to me, as Elizabeth Gilbert would say this idea has visited other food photographers on its journey to realisation, this is my take on it.

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Chocolate Cake

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Chocolate Cake

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Chocolate Cake

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Pasta

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Pasta

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Blackberry Pie

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Blackberry Pie

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Blackberry Pie

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Blackberry Pie

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Sushi

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Cheesecake Slice

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Cheesecake Slice

Two Loves Studio Black and White Food Photography Cheesecake Slice

Two Loves Studio | Black + White Food Photography But Not As You Know It
Two Loves Studio | Black + White Food Photography But Not As You Know It
Two Loves Studio | Black + White Food Photography But Not As You Know It
Two Loves Studio | Black + White Food Photography But Not As You Know It
Two Loves Studio | Black + White Food Photography But Not As You Know It
Two Loves Studio | Black + White Food Photography But Not As You Know It

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37 Comments

  • Reply Pang March 10, 2016 at 10:22 am

    oh my goodness, Rachel, these photos are SO BEAUTIFUL beyond my imagination. I agree with you B&W is indeed simple, yet emotional. I have never been able to capture the beauty of it in food, just yet. This post of yours is so inspiring and all around fantastically wonderful. Thank you so much for the inspiration. I love love love every single photos here.

    • Reply Rachel March 10, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      As always, thank you Pang. I feel photography of black and white food looks more realistic than a black and white filter and so creates some new depth to the image. I have quite a few shots from the project, but only posted the best! Glad you love, love, love them!

  • Reply Jena | Little Rusted Ladle March 10, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    GORGEOUS!! That half made pie is so elegant! I love black and white food. We did a lovely black and white series for New Years. Here are a couple of them you might like! http://www.littlerustedladle.com/2014/12/29/black-white-appetizers-vanilla-custard-blackberries/ and http://www.littlerustedladle.com/2014/12/27/black-white-appetizers-squid-ink-spaghetti-scallops/

    • Reply Rachel March 10, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Hey Jena! Oh wow, thanks for sharing those with me. How great is it that this same idea has visited us both? I love your composition with the pasta on the spoons. Very cool. The half pie is my favourite too!

  • Reply Susan March 10, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous Rachel! It puts me in mind of the wonderful black/white magazine issue that Donna Hay put out a few years ago. I think I’ve still got it somewhere…

    • Reply Rachel March 10, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks Susan. Yes I remember that issue well. The White pana cotta they did? To die for. I wish I still had a copy of that issue.

  • Reply Jo || The Luminous Kitchen March 10, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Ok so I read the title of your email and clicked through. While page was loading I was thinking about Penny and how she says you have to assign yourself your dream assignments and then I read it in your second paragraph!! Smiling the whole way through this post and simply in awe! Exquisite work babe!! 👏🏻👏🏻

    • Reply Rachel March 10, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      Really! That is too spooky. Great minds think alike as they say. That seriously resonates with me and some of the best advice I think I will ever have received. Keeps my passion alive. Cheers for the kind words as always.

  • Reply merilyn March 10, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    your work is simply stunning! thankyou for your beautiful aesthetic Rachel!
    love m:)X

    • Reply Rachel March 10, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Thank Merilyn! Such kind words. Also, how cool is that you’ve been following decor8 for years. The internet can be a small world sometimes.

  • Reply Jasmine March 10, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Stunning Rachel! Reminds me of the Donna Hay Black and White issue a while ago, it was such a stunning issue to see black and white foods and such a restrained colour palate. I love setting yourself a challenge and then nailing it. You definitely have… that half done lattice pie is gorgeous.

    • Reply Rachel March 10, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      I love the pie too! Yes, I tell you there were quite a few shots that didn’t work out and I really had to push myself and up my game. I really learnt a lot from this project. That issue of Donna Hay was truly amazing. I was just replying to Susan, the white pana cotta they did, truly amazing.

  • Reply Helen Tzouganatos March 10, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    These images are stunning Rachel. They belong on the front cover of Harper’s Bazaar!!

    • Reply Rachel March 11, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Wouldn’t that be amazing hey!

  • Reply Marisa Franca @ All Our Way March 10, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    I can’t believe how the black and white draws your eyes to the star of the show. There are no colors to distract other than what comes through with the star. It reminds me of a black tie affair whereby everyone is dressed in black but somehow if there is just one person is in white — that is where the eyes go. This is a great study, Rachel!!

    • Reply Rachel March 11, 2016 at 8:55 am

      I like the journey that you were taken on! Without colour, I learned a lot about the shapes and preparation of food. Was a neat little exercise.

  • Reply Aysegul March 11, 2016 at 12:29 am

    I am speechless Rachel. These photos are incredibly creative and beautiful.
    I have never tried this technique, but I am so inspired to give it a try.
    PS: That lattice pie is all my dreams come true in a food photo. <3

    • Reply Rachel March 11, 2016 at 8:56 am

      Oh that is too kind. You totally should. Or even another colour would be cool too like all red or all green!

  • Reply betty March 11, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    This is too inspirational! I love it – and thanks to Aysegul for introducing me to your work! 🙂

    • Reply Rachel March 31, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Oh hey there Betty! What a lovely surprise. I love your work, especially how you bring alive seafood. Thanks for stopping by. Don’t be shy and keep in touch!

  • Reply Kristi March 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    No words…seriously, these are massively inspiring! So gorgeous…

    • Reply Rachel March 31, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Thanks Kristi! It was a fun and challenging project. Do you have a favourite image?

  • Reply Laura March 12, 2016 at 5:02 am

    I’m fascinated with your job Rachel, this project is very beautiful. You have a special gift for sharing your love for photography and inspiring us through your words.

    • Reply Rachel March 31, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Sometimes I have so many ideas and others, it like a massive drought. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  • Reply 4 Steps to Overcome a Creative Block in Food Photography April 14, 2016 at 10:00 am

    […] recent struggle I had was with my Black + White Chocolate Cake shoot I did for my personal project Black + White Food Photography. This was my inspiration image and boy did I […]

  • Reply Noi Tran May 20, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Awesome! What an interesting concept, well done. Love it!

    • Reply Rachel May 24, 2016 at 9:30 am

      Thanks Noi, glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply Shivaji July 3, 2016 at 1:18 am

    One word “Beautiful”

    • Reply Rachel July 8, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks Shivaji. I’ll take that!

  • Reply dona holmes October 14, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    that’s really great photos i love it keep going . i really want to be like you i mean i fall in love with your photos
    i hope i can be good photographer like you .

    • Reply Rachel October 20, 2016 at 10:05 am

      Thanks for those kind words Dona. If you practice and stay true to yourself, you’ll be a great photographer!

  • Reply alexis December 1, 2016 at 6:29 am

    This was an amazing article! I have never used the word “sexy” to describe food pictures, but this was incredibly inspiring. I’m getting into food photography and I’m so motivated by these beautiful images. awesome job!

    • Reply Rachel December 9, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks Alexis! Sexy it is then. haha.

  • Reply Marcela Senise January 7, 2017 at 8:37 am

    those are just beautiful shots!!

    • Reply Rachel January 11, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks so much Marcela! I did learn a lot doing this project and having to think about how images would look in black and white!

  • Reply Jess May 8, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Thank you Rachel for the inspiration, your photos are really elegant & beautiful. Black & white has always been my favourite, hope to try this style and improve my photography.

    • Reply Rachel May 10, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Thanks Jess for those kind words. I hope this has inspired you to try out a project like this of your own. Please do share your images with me if you do! Have a lovely day.

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