Search for the hashtag #food on Instagram and you will find over 84 million images - food photography is definitely catching on, which is why I'm sharing tips for better food photography to help you catch up with the trend. Taking photos is one way of savouring the experience of eating delicious and gorgeous-looking food. And of course, the whole food photography experience is not complete if you don’t share it with others by posting it online – that's the easiest and fastest way – plus, the likes you get is such an ego boost. Now, you can hop on the bandwagon by using these simple tips for better food photography.
This is one of the most basic and important of all the tips for better food photography. It’s perfectly okay to have artificial lighting, but natural light helps you make your food look more natural and tasty. Take a photo of your food where natural light is abundant. Shoot near a window, near an open door, and even outside. Daylight is the best light that you can use to get great food photos. However, when you feel like you want more light, or a different kind of light or if you just want take more control your light, then using artificial lighting such as LEDs, fluorescents and studio strobes is perfect to fit your creative purposes.
You have to know what kind of photo style or mood you want to send across your audience. I usually go with my favourite mood: bright and jolly; this usually goes along well with pastries and desserts. You can also opt to go for the relaxing and chill mood; usually used for coffee, fruits and sandwiches. You can go for the dark and heavy mood; usually used in shooting chocolate and wine. Once you pick a photo style / mood, stick to it. Knowing your style or mood will help you choose the elements or details that you would want to include in your photo.
The background you pick will definitely affect the overall outcome of your photo. I suggest that you keep your background simple so that the focus would be on the food and not on something else. Make sure your background is clean and that there are no food smudges or crumbs (unless if you placed them there intentionally). If you want to use backdrops you can, just as long as it complements the food and reflects the style or mood you want to portray. The foolproof backgrounds that I usually use are plain white plates, wooden chopping boards, and a simple table cloth.
Props always help your image look more interesting and delicious. Just like the background, your props must not take the attention away from your food; they must complement the food. Don’t clutter your photo too; using one to two props is enough. For me, silver utensils usually make a great prop. Not only does silver reflect and direct more light to your image, but it also highlights some features that will help make your photos pop.
Food always look its best when it’s freshly cooked - there’s steam, it’s not melting, its colours have not yet changed. You want to capture food when it is at its most appetizing. This means that you have to anticipate and prepare for what you want to achieve before your food arrives. Set your camera ahead of time, clear your table and get ready to shoot. Besides, you don’t want to take too much time taking photos instead of actually eating your food, right?
The focal point of your photo is the food itself. The problem is, getting the best angle could be very tricky. According to experts, it is always effective when you bring your subject forward; it naturally draws the viewer in to the rest of the frame. You can also get better shots by shooting down close to the plate or slightly above it. When all else fails, you can always do an overhead shot and give your viewer the whole scene.
There’s nothing wrong with adding a little bit of oil over your food in order to get more glistening shots, or digitally editing your photo for the sake of better picture quality. The aim is to get a great picture, one that will allow your audience to actually taste the food just by looking at the photo you took. You can rearrange your food, slice it, let it melt, and you can even dig in then take a shot of the half-finished plate; anything that will make your image more appetizing. When it comes to digitally editing the photo, I usually adjust the brightness and contrast, saturation, hue, and vibrance. It’s all up to your creativity and style!
Food photography does not always have to be hard and only done by experts. Stay inspired by looking at magazines, cookbooks and even menus, to see how the experts do it. I hope these tips can help in your pursing your passion for food photography. What are your food photography tips? Feel free to share them in the comments section.
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