This Photographer's Work Will Make You See Food in a Different Light

Patrick Martires talks about what it's like to take food photos for a living

( Picture this: you’ve been stuck in line for half an hour, waiting to pay for your groceries, when you spot a magazine with a perfectly plump roast chicken on the cover, its skin glisteningly golden-brown, its succulence so apparent that you can almost taste the crisp skin and the gloriously tender juiciness of each bite. Hungry? That’s the point—actually, the goal—for every shot of food taken by photographers like Patrick Martires.    



For most of us, the first couple of years of college were spent not having a clue about what to do with the rest of our lives. For Martires, things were slightly different. “I had no interest in photography at all back in college; I wanted to be a filmmaker,” he starts. He majored in Communication Arts at De La Salle University but, after taking “floating” subjects in the first term, was put on the photography track. “After spending long hours in the darkroom inhaling all the chemicals, I eventually came to love what I was doing with a camera,” he jokes. “I enjoyed shooting everything, from events to still life, fashion, landscapes, travel, and food.” Fast-forward a decade (or so) and he’s now an industry favorite when it comes to producing traffic-stopping, drool-worthy food photos. 



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It wasn’t always dream assignments and glamorous photoshoots, though. “Right out of college I approached a professional photographer at a wedding fair and said, ‘Do you need an assistant?’ He said, ‘Yes, we leave next week for Iloilo,’ and from there I carried his bags, loaded his medium-format camera and learned a lot.” That mentor was Jo Avila, a veteran photographer who is considered one of the best in the industry. The experience would end up helping Martires build a network of contacts in the then-budding world of print magazines. To date, his portfolio includes work for titles like Yummy, Good Housekeeping, Real Living, and Town&Country Philippines. He’s also shot for brands like Kultura and Bizu.





So, what’s it like to take food photos for a living? “The easiest thing about shooting food is eating it after, the hardest is losing the weight, which I have not,” Martires says. “I really don't approach a food shoot any differently from the way I would any other type of shoot because it's really all about the light, the quality, and the way you shape it to make your subject look its best.”





Like any job, it has its hard parts. “The challenge with food photography can be finding the right balance between making it look good, making it look realistic, making it look delicious, and making it still interesting. Showing shine to things that need to be shiny, showing shape, accenting colors and bringing out textures.”




It figures: that picture of mac and cheese that looks warm and cheesy and gooey, like it just came out of the oven and you can almost taste it—it's not just mac and cheese. It's light, and texture, and color, and shape. And probably the most satisfying kind of photography there is.


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