Have you ever worked with reflector cards, like foam core or poster board from the drug store (these will set you back about 5 bucks!)? No need to buy a fancy set of 'real' reflectors — their $5.00 cousins do the job just as well. They can really enhance your images, especially when photographing food or still lifes.
In all of these instances, you are really creating the image, not capturing a spontaneous moment in time. With all this power comes responsibility! You must make the item come to life. A great way to do that? Add or subtract light from the subject.
Conversely, if you add a black sheet of foam core to this same set up, you will subtract light and increase shadows, adding more contrast to your final frame. This can be used to add drama, and is typically used when darker backgrounds are in place.
So where are all these pictures from? While browsing Twitter last night, I noticed a bundle of photographs that perfectly illustrate these reflector boards in action, via Shauna, of Gluten Free Girl, who is creating her newest cookbook with Penny De Los Santos as the photographer. Notice their set up: great natural light from a large window, black and white reflectors to create different moods in the images, a ladder to get totally above the food and a whole lot of amazing props. We can all learn a lot by observing this set up, and applying it to multiple photo needs.
xoxo, Leela the Photo Magician