FOLD, is a new Vietnamese restaurant soon to hit London.  A contemporary take on traditional Vietnamese food. Co-FoundersRachel Filerand Frederique Nguyen wanted to visually present 21 menu items to emphasise the freshness of the ingredients as well the drama and fun in eating ‘foldable’ food.

Styling sketches of the 21 dishes for Fold's menu

Styling sketches of the 21 dishes for Fold’s menu

In addition to the food they wanted to communicate the experience of eating Vietnamese, which is I have now learnt, highly sociable! Says Rachel;

We need to communicate a very hands on, fun, interactive meal. Lots of different dishes, stacks of rice paper, heaps of fresh herbs, glass noodles, little bowls of dipping sauce, pickles etc… And hands to create atmosphere, people tucking in, folding up rice paper and dipping in sauces
Vietnamese social eating experience

Vietnamese social eating experience

Shoot Schedule

This was a 3-day shoot; day 1 and 2 shooting menu and day 3 ‘Fold in Motion’ eating experience and hero shots.


In pre-planning we divided the shots into categories that would allow us to efficiently get through the menu in a logical order; i.e. all rice paper folding dishes in a group, all dipping dishes in another group and some of the more complex ‘MIX’ dishes late on the second day; Dishes were divided into


Rachel's notes and sketches of menu combinations

Rachel’s notes and sketches of menu combinations

To kick off the shoot we spent several hours testing different lighting set-ups and moods. It is often the way with still life product photography that the subject lacks dynamism and I obviously wanted to avoid this and make the food look artistic and almost imposing. I wanted to shift around and work at different angles and perspectives without having to alter the set-up. At first I tested off camera flash with gels so that I could move around the food quickly but the light from this didn’t capture the mood I was after.  In the end we opted for a constant lighting solution with a diffused key light, rim and a light thrown on the background to balance the image composition by creating a hi-light where needed.

We also experimented with different back ground colours and textures but in the end opted for various shades of dark backgrounds. We found this truly emphasised the food itself, particularly the colour of the fresh ingredients. Combined this with sharp lines created by overlapping the backgrounds and we were on our way to creating a Vietnamese ‘look’ that also communicated the ‘fold’ of the Fold brand.

Lighting set-up day 1

Lighting set-up day 1

Check out some of the results from the shoot on my portfolio.