One of my favorite things that I learned in college was that I loved taking photos of food. Food, in my opinion, is the most difficult to photograph. It takes a keen eye to keep all of the little details in check. So here is a list of tips and tricks to get your food photography looking good and delicious.
Backlight is key to texture and making it look appetizing. This will allow any steam to show up.
I love the look of natural light on food. Put your surface near a window, preferably one out of direct sunlight. And make sure to turn off any lamps or overhead lights, these will cast an orange glow in your photos in your natural blue lighting.
When you have light coming in from one direction, you can get strong shadows. I recommend bouncing the light and filling in the shadows with a reflector.
Take out stuff that you don’t need. Things that may be distracting or doesn’t add to the the plate of the food, doesn’t need to be in your shot.
With the above being said, if you would like to get creative with it. Use raw ingredients to give the shot a little pop. Get creative, and when in doubt follow the “more is less” rule.
Another tip to follow is adding a human element to the shot. Adding a hand stirring a pot or holding a plate allows you to show scale.
Lighting your food can be super simple. Your goal when you are shooting food, is to make the food the star. You don’t need dramatic lighting because sometimes harsh lighting can make the food look just wrong. Nine times out of ten, a simple window will be all you need to create a beautifully light photograph, like the image below with the biscuits, all that I used was one window. There are going to be some naturally occurring shadows, if you feel they need to be softened, use a bounce card.
This should go without saying, but I will say it anyway. Plates and props should be 100% pristine, clean, and flaw free. When you shoot up close, any imperfections will show up and make the dish messy, incomplete or unappetizing.
On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with showing cookie crumble. Not every plate of food has to be in its pristine. Just don’t over do it.
To make vegetables glisten, you may brush a bit of oil over them. To make a salad sparkle, mist it with some water. This will give the dish a fresh look.
Like I said before, you are most likely going to shoot any food up close, which shows all imperfections. So you are going to want fresh ingredients. If the skin is damaged, or the avocado is turning brown, it is not going to look good to your audience! Always go fresh.
Vary the Camera Angle
Just like people, food can be photographed from more flattering angles. I almost never shoot a dish from one angle because the concept you see in your head might not always make the best photo. Get the shot you think you want and then take a moment to recompose and take another.
Work in Progress
Lets admit that some food just does not photograph well. So instead of worrying yourself over an ugly dish, think about photographing the ingredients. Fill the frame. Show details and textures. Liquid pouring or hand stirring may get the shot that you are looking for.
When you eat out, take photos of your food before you eat it. This will give you extra practice shooting food that has been beautifully prepared by a professional.
If you are interested in seeing my full food projects head up to the portfolio drop down menu to Food
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