Saturday, 25 August 2012

Food Photography Tips

Food photography is undoubtedly one of the most popular genres of photography. There are a large number of Magazines and Recipe publications demanding high quality food photographs. The number of recipe blogs out there run by women who love to cook and show their work has also contributed to the increasing demand for quality food photos.

Food Photography Tips
Photo by Bogdan Suditu
 In this article let us discuss some tips and tricks for photographing food in a way that appears attractive and also tasty to the viewers. Although professional food photography involves the services of specialists like food stylists, art directors, photographers, prop stylists etc. For the purpose of this article we assume that all the above mentioned roles are being handled by one single person, that is the photographer and that is you.

Pick the best Specimen

This tip is applicable for any photo shoot, whether you are photographing vegetables, or baked cookies, given the choice, pick the best specimen available for your shot.

Food Photography Tips
Photo by Bogdan Suditu

Cut / Slice the Specimen

Don’t just photograph the food as it is, sometimes a cut cross section will reveal patterns and contrasting colours and textures, making the shot interesting. Cutting up cakes / bread etc would help you create different layers.

Food Photography Tips
Photo by Lorenia


As is the case with any other type of photography, lighting is the most important factor in food photography. Food photographers generally stick to high key lighting techniques to generate the rich feel. Ensure that there is enough light to illuminate the scene properly. The best arrangement to photograph food is by a window where the diffused day light coming from the window will act as the main light source and a white reflector placed on the other side reflects the light back to illuminate the darker areas, eliminating shadows.

Food Photography Tips
Photo by Stephanie Kilgast

The colour temperature of the daylight ensures the natural colour and makes the food look natural. You may also try using the flash as a fill source. Set your flash unit to a low power and diffuse the output using a flash diffuser.Experiment with coloured gels to enhance the colours.

Take photos from all angles

One of the most common mistake beginners to food photography make is to shoot straight down, a shot as if looking straight down on the food can work for some occasions, but this not how we are used to see food. The most appealing angle to shoot food is from the angle which a viewer sees it being presented in the table, (approximately 45 degrees). But only take this as a guideline and not as a rule and do experiment by shooting from all possible angles. You might get some pretty interesting compositions this way. In my personal experience I have found that choosing a lower angle produces much better results.

Food Photography Tips
Photo by Chotda

Keep your Background Clean and Uncluttered

Food looks attractive when there is some contrast between the colour of the food and the background in which it is presented. Also remember to keep your background uncluttered. You may also try blurring out the background a bit by using shallow depth of field, emphasizing the main subject, which is the food.

Use of Props

Presentation of the food is very important, pay attention to the way things are arranged at the table / plate. Consider including other elements like a spoon, a fork, napkin, or other things that goes along with the shot like a glass of wine etc. Think of it as a real situation and only include elements that would actually be in it. The point to remember is not to overdo it. Too many props will clutter the background and spoil the shot, keep it simple, distribute the props among the foreground and background elements in the shot.

Food Photography Tips
Photo by Ulterior Epicure

Pay Attention to your Presentation

The food to be photographed should always be presented in a pleasant and attractive way. Think of elements to balance the shot, remember the rule of thirds and other compositional guidelines. Look for distracting elements in the frame. Pay attention to the foreground and background elements.

Food Photography Tips
Photo by Michael Porter

White Balance

Food photographs looks good in warmer tones, so try to shoot using the cloudy or shade white balance mode of your camera as this will warm things up a bit. If you are not sure about the quality of light in the scene and the resulting white balance, shoot RAW.

Photograph the Process

If someone else is doing the cooking, shoot images of the actual process, this could be interesting too, remember a kitchen is a dangerous place for the camera to be in. Dirt, Oil, Steam etc does not go well with your equipment, so pay attention to your gear while you are shooting in the kitchen.

Enhance the Subject

There are many tips and tricks which are employed by the professional food stylists to enhance the appearance of the food. Some of which render the food unfit for consumption. But some are easy and add helpful. One such trick is with a paintbrush and some vegetable oil. Apply some vegetable oil with a paintbrush over your sample food to make it look warm, and shiny. Be careful not to overdo it and also remember not everything in the shot should look shiny.

Food Photography Tips
Photo by Brian

Composition Tips for Photographing Food

Remember the rules of composition, rule of thirds, rule of odds etc, balance the shot, balance the colours, employ both shallow depth of field and large depth of field techniques, crop in tight, use wide angle, include the settings, convey a sense of place etc are all applicable to food photography too. The key to get great shots is to experiment.

Food Photography Tips
Photo by Scott

In the next article we will discuss about Photography - How To Photograph - Black and White Photography Tips

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