Deconstructed dishes by commercial photographer Mikkel Jul Hvilshoj

Mikkel Jul Hvilshoj’s clean and minimalist style shines in a series of photos made for Danish cookware brand Eva. “The idea is to show a dish in a new way,” Jul Hvilshoj says of the photos he made in collaboration with ad agency Liquidminds. Here’s what we learned about the series.

Deconstructed dishes by commercial photographer Mikkel Jul Hvilshoj
© Mikkel Jul Hvilshoj

Setup: The photos were made in-studio with the ingredients and pots and pans arranged on a gray table-top, which made it easy to change the background in post-production. Some clay dough and fishing line, which is easy to remove in Photoshop, were used to hold cooking utensils in place. Sometimes substitutions had to be made with the food to give it staying power. For example, cooking oil doesn’t stay put, so syrup was used, and its hue was corrected in post-production.

Equipment: The photos were shot with a Hasselblad V-system that included a PhaseOne IQ150 digital back and Hasselblad 60mm lens. A Gitzo salon stand set above the table allowed photos be shot straight down on the subject.

Lighting: He used two lights, both Profoto 1x6-foot strip boxes. The main light was shot through a 10x10-foot silk to get a soft light from the top right corner. The other light was placed just under the surface of the table on the right. “That way the light didn’t hit the tabletop but only the products,” he says. “I wanted to keep the shadow coming from the main light.”

Challenges: The client chose the recipes and ingredients for the images, so Jul Hvilshoj had to go with them, even ones that weren’t inherently pleasing to the eye. “Fresh meat, especially chicken, is rarely photogenic,” he admits. Styling required patience—each image took about an hour and a half to complete. But the results justify the efforts. Arranging the ingredients in a neat grid “gives the image a calm feel,” he says. “It is clean, simplistic, and visually appealing.”

Amanda Arnold is associate editor of Professional Photographer.