1. What is the main ‘purpose’ of this image? To show off a particular aspect of the food? To communicate the ease of the recipe? To communicate the dish’s dramatic appearance? etc.
2. What is the main focus of the dish? What should be front and center, clear and focused? This is different than the first question…the first question refers to the “concept” of the photograph, this question refers to the “visual” aspect.
3. What angle will best show off the dish?
4. How much time do I have before the food begins to fall apart/look cold/etc?
5. Will I be submitting this shot to a food porn site? If so, should I place the food in the center of the image to compliment the square format?
6. Will the prop styling (plates, napkins, etc.) be simple or complex?
7. What sort of mood am I trying to communicate?
8. What type of color scheme am I after? How does this reinforce the mood I’m after?
9. What type of lighting will reinforce the mood?
10.What is going to make this photo stand out from the rest?
All answers to the above questions should in some way reinforce the answer to question #1. That first question dictates all technical and aesthetic decisions.
Asking yourself these questions will help you “pre-visualize” your image which will ultimately help you gain control over the photographic process and dramatically improve your images.
Do you have any other questions to add to the list?