How to Photograph Food at a Farmers Market

Evi Abeler

Farmers’ markets have seen a revival in recent years. As people want to eat more regional and seasonal products, they have become more popular. You should be able to find one near you as well. You might be surprised by the variety and beauty of your local produce. Since everything is fresh and nicely displayed, a market is an ideal spot to photograph.

Get There Early

Markets usually start early, and if you are planning to get shots of the stands, people, and products make sure to get there when it starts.

If you arrive too late, you will only be able to capture crowds and empty bins. The earlier you get there the more time the market people have to chat with you too.

Take a Stroll

The first thing I do at a market is to wander around a bit and see all the sellers. I keep my eyes open for beautiful displays and arrangements, for pretty stands, cute corners, and interesting looking people. Where does the light come from? Will the weather change? Are there buildings or trees in the background that you could capture in a wide angle shot to give your image context?

Look for the Light

Some tents have colors that cast a tint on the produce. It is very hard to get those, often red or green, tints out of the image. If at all possible stick to the neutral tents. Some stands have installed artificial lights that do not match the color temperature of daylight. Maybe they have old-fashioned tungsten lights which make food, booth, and skin tones appear yellow.

 

Talk to the Market People

I enjoy meeting the people who grow the food. They are proud to tell you their family and business story, and always have insights about their products to share. You’ll find out what’s particularly good, why tomatoes are not available yet, or what it took to harvest asparagus.

Once you have made a connection, ask if you could photograph their market stand. They will most likely be happy to have you and might even pose for you with a nice bunch of fresh carrots. Make sure to get their email so that you can send them some photos and a thank you note.

Shoot Plenty

Since you won’t be able to shoot tethered at a market, unless you are hired to shoot the market and have assistants with you, don’t be stingy with your shots. Try different angles and viewpoints and have fun playing with your camera.

Buy Some Produce

This will not only make the market people happy but will also give you some gorgeous objects to shoot at home. Fresh produce, with a little dirt still on them, make the best still lifes. Lay them out on a background, play with the arrangement, and take an overhead shot.