Food photography 101: “Peeps” inspiration

Homemade "peep" chicks shot by Kirk McKoy in studio on March 6, 2013.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
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This is part of a series of posts on food photography, sharing some of the tips and tricks we use here at The Times. We received a number of great questions from readers, which we will answer in upcoming posts.

In the photo gallery above, Kirk McKoy tackles one of a photographer’s greatest challenges: inspiration. For a cover story on Peeps, Kirk was tasked with shooting a variety of artistic and illustrative photos for both the print and online story and its related components. He explains his method below. -- Noelle Carter

I’m not going to lie to you…I really enjoyed shooting this assignment! What’s not to love? I was shooting PEEPS! What are PEEPS you say? PEEPS are marshmallow candies that are shaped into chicks, bunnies, and other animals.

I was given the challenge to create something playful, so I enlisted the help from some of my favorite PEEPS! (Ok, Corny but it had to be said.) Come on, just look at those adorable faces! You’ve just got to love them! But how to photograph them? Well, with an artistic eye and a little humor of course. Tight shots, overhead shots, photos that played on geometric designs -- I shot enough to give the page designer and web producer plenty to work with. I even played on the “which came first, the ‘peep’ or the egg” dilemma in a few shots.


But of all the “peep” jokes and puns I could think of, the one that kept sticking was “peep hole.”

Luckily, it was simple to illustrate.

I took a piece of foam core (but, any piece of black cardboard or matt board would work.) Simply cut out an old fashion keyhole. The size of the hole you cut depends on how many PEEPS you want to show. I cut out a large keyhole. Focus lens on the PEEPS and position the cardboard between the camera and the PEEPS. The closer the cardboard is to the camera the softer the edges of the keyhole will be, giving you the illusion peeping through an actual keyhole.

We all have peeps, these are just a few of mine. I hope you enjoy them!

Questions or suggestions? Food photography challenge? Comment below or email Noelle Carter at


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