Nashville Lifestyles Best Pizza

Nashville’s Best Pizza

I always get behind in writing these things up. Back in September I photographed some of the best pizza in Nashville for Nashville Lifestyles Magazine. I photographed pizza at Pastaria and Moto Nashville. Both restaurants do amazing wood fired pizza. The assignment here was straight forward and to the point capture one signature pizza at each restaurant with vertical and horizontal photos. Check it out the resulting photos below!


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Moto Cucina is one of the absolute best rustic Italian restaurants in Nashville. Moto has an amazing vibe inside the space. They do an authentic wood fired pizza and the crust is outstanding. At Moto I photographed the Sausage, Honey, Calabrese pizza. This was an absolutely delicious pizza. The sweetness of the honey really takes this pizza to the next level. Lighting on these was super simple. I did a one light set up with the light to camera right. I used a Paul C. Buff Einstein as my key light with a Paul C Buff 64in PLM with a white diffusion. I also used a white bounce card on the opposite side of my image to bring in the shadow detail.



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The Scene

Since this is an editorial shot I wanted to show some context to the pizza. Pastaria does wood-fired pizza and as you walk in the restaurant you see this amazing rack of wood. I wanted to use that in my shot. I wanted this image to scream wood-fired pizza. So I used this wood rack as my background. This meant a few things.

The Light

First, it meant that I would need more than one light. In most food photos without a separate background other than the surface you only need one light source. When you add a background in it means you need another light to light up the background. I have to add a second light source because in food photography we key from either the side or from the back. My key light here is from 45 degrees behind the pizza. The key is placed to camera right. There are two options for that second light. The first option is to use another strobe. The second option is to drag the shutter to allow ambient light in or to allow daylight in. In this restaurant with the distance from the table to the background and with the constraints of having other people in the dining room I went with using natural light for my second source. This meant that I first set my exposure for the background and then brought my key light up in power to match. I then used a fill card to fill in the dark side of the pizza which is the left side. I am essentially using the same light set up here that I used at Moto except that I am dragging the shutter to bring in the natural light on the background.

The second thing that shooting a pizza with a background surface means is finding the perfect angle. With pizza, we typically will shoot it just on one surface so that we can highlight the top of the pizza. Adding a background it means that we have to find the perfect angle to show enough toppings and then to show the context. 

Also, I ate this pizza after the shoot and it was totally delicious.

Wrapping It Up

I hope you all enjoyed following along and reading about how I photographed some of the best pizza in Nashville. Let me know what your favorite pizza place in Nashville is in the comments.

Nick Bumgardner is a food photographer based out of Nashville, TN.