Food Photographer of the Week: Jesper Rais, Denmark
Denmark has recently seen an explosion of fantastic restaurants and has transformed itself into a veritable foodie destination. Copenhagen, in particular, is home to some of the best restaurants in the world and is now being considered by some as Europe’s food capital.
And Denmark’s food scene is proudly represented by some of the finest food photographers. Meet Jesper Rais, a super talented photographer who has worked with top chefs such as Wassim Hallal, Eric Vildgaard, and Thorsten Schmidt.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your passion for photography.
My name is Jesper Rais. I’m 36 years old, a father of four, and am married to Anna, for 13 years.
I’m living in Denmark and working as an independent food photographer. I do photos for hotels, restaurants, cookbooks, and so on.
My passion for photography started at an early age. Capturing the moment, showing people things through my eyes.
2. What do you find most appealing about food photography?
I love the teamwork between myself and the chef, and the magic of getting a beautiful dish looking just as amazing in a photo as in real life.
3. Are you a foodie yourself?
Yes, I guess I am. I actually grew up in a hotel, but my fascination for food, restaurants, and cooking first came when I got older.
Today I love trying new things in the kitchen, maybe things I saw or learned when spending time with all the chefs. We also love going out to eat, as much as a life with four kids allow us.
4. What is your source of inspiration?
I look at food photographers’ work from all over the world, to get inspired and keep up. But I guess my biggest inspiration comes from my clients.
While shooting pictures at a restaurant for a chef, I try to get inspired but the chefs cooking, the restaurant, and the surroundings to find the best style for my pictures to match my client.
5. What are the top 2-3 food photos you’ve taken and what is special about them?
A chef is never better than the last dish he just sent out in the restaurant. Maybe that’s the same for food photographers, so hopefully all my pictures maintain my style and quality. I don’t think I can name a specific picture as a top choice.
6. What is the most beautiful restaurant/setting where you’ve taken photos?
Beauty is many things. I have tried spending a day shooting amazing and beautiful food at Michelin restaurants in the most classy surroundings, and I have shot a whole cookbook outside in a forest, while it rained all day. And I find both things amazing.
Besides food photography, I also have a passion for spending time outdoors in nature. So it’s always a pleasure when I’m able to combine those two. Maybe shooting pictures of the chefs foraging the forest floor, or traveling somewhere exotic for a client.
Most of my jobs are in Denmark of course, but now and then I get the chance to travel, and so far I have had assignments in Norway, Sweden, Vietnam, Tanzania, and elsewhere.
I have shot a whole cookbook outside in a forest, while it rained all day.
7. Can you please describe a typical photo session.
It could be shooting a new menu at one of my regular clients. I meet up at the restaurant to go through the plan with the chef. We talk about the style we want and plan the pictures.
Then I’ll set up and the chef starts cooking, and we take the dishes one by one. Always deciding together the best light and angle for every dish.
8. What are the most common mistakes you see chefs and restaurant owners making with their food photos?
Not hiring a food photographer 🙂 Haha!
9. How is food photography different between print and online (i.e. Instagram)?
I don’t think it’s that big a difference. Pictures always need a little extra preparation for printing than if it’s “just” for online purpose.
It’s always a big honor getting the chance to shoot a cookbook. I love it every time, and it’s always an extra thrill to watch your work printed rather than just being on screen.
10. What type of equipment do you use?
As little as possible. In my opinion daylight is amazing for food photography, so normally I have all my flash equipment for backup, if I can’t find a good daylight location at the site.
I take most of my pictures on my Canon, with daylight, and a little reflector.
11. Can you take beautiful, professionally looking food photos with your smartphone?
The best camera is the one you have with you, so the short answer is yes.
But when that is said, of course there will always be a difference between a pro camera and lens and whatever you can get to fit inside a smartphone. But you get better and better, and with a little practice and understanding of light its possible to make beautiful pictures on whatever camera you’ve got.
12. Please share a couple of food photography tricks useful for amateur food photographers.
Lighting is everything. It’s the light that gives the food colors, depth and tactility
As said earlier, lighting is everything. It’s the light that gives the food colors, depth and tactility.
Stick to one light source to make it easier for yourself. I suggest a big window without direct sunlight. Turn off light in the room to avoid light with different color temperature. Keep it simple.
We’ll invite you to enjoy some of Jesper’s fantastic work below: