Little bit of a production post…
In an effort to keep food photography simple, we typically shoot on-location, with a Kino Flo 4-bank (usually filled with natural light from nearby windows if available), and a short fixed lens on the camera:
Shooting head-on or at a 45ish-degree angle from an elevated point, gives us the opportunity to create a sense of the restaurant in the background, while still keeping the dishes front-and-center:
And there are dishes that call for the top-down approach that seems prevalent with foodie-photogs today:
The short, fixed lens takes a little more “work” to get the right shot (focus plane) with this approach. You need to be able to clear enough height to get the distance for good focus that doesn’t warp the shape of the dish.
I typically find different highlights on each dish to focus on with each click (above: the focus plane with the dark green garnish, then the focus plane with the top parmesan shavings, the focus plane where the edges of the mushrooms meet the filling, etc). Once that’s done, I do some insurance work, and work through each step on the focus ring before moving on to the next dish.
I find that stepping back, and browsing through the images later in post, works best when picking the right shots for the finished product.
(But really, the most important question is: To sample or not to sample?)