We all eat food and photographing food will never go stale. Having tasteful pictures of food in your portfolio will always give you an edge over other photographers. Here we offer you unorthodox tips that neither require you to be a perfectionist nor experienced to excel at this.
We have had food shots for a cookbook and websites. Onsite, we learned interesting techniques about food styling, choosing the right props and lighting. Regardless of whether you are shooting food for a big publishing client or for a small cookbook of old family recipes, the process of capturing food remains the same.
If this is something you’ve always wanted to try read this blog and feel free to add your own tips or ask questions at the end.
Taste the Food
It may sound funny, but the best way to know what you are shooting is to actually taste it. Tasting the food in advance will allow you to experience the dish and its little details thus allowing you to bring it out visually. For instance, if a dish has a crispy and crunchy texture, then try to find ways to highlight that part by getting up close on the exterior or by showing textural differences within the dish.
Keep it Simple
Sometimes a photographer will tend to go overboard with props. The best thing to do is to go minimalist on the props and concentrate on the subject. Take out all distractions from the table and keep it just one plate of food.
If the food looks unappealing after its cooked, simply show a portion of it with garnish. Brown soup doesn’t really seem visually stimulating but if you have to do something with it, get creative with props and cropping and when in doubt follow the “more is less” rule of thumb.
Add Human Parts
Well not literally. Try to include a hand stirring the dish or holding a platter. This will show the scale of the dish while also adding a human element.
Shoot all the Time
Exercise your food photography muscle by shooting every day even if its a cup of chai, delicious street food, mom’s sandwich. Showcase food that you think deserves to be photographed. You don’t need a DSLR or a food stylist or a chef to make it. All you need to do is to show it how you see it.
Make Things Messy
Yes, you heard that right. It doesn’t always have to be pristine and perfect. Cookies crumble and there is nothing wrong about it. How does it affect the viewer you ask? It psychologically demonstrates how food has been enjoyed by someone. It relates to the viewer’s reality. Messy food at times looks delicious as well, but be sure you don’t overdo it just because.
Move Food Around
Think differently and walk around the food you are looking to photograph. Look at it from all sides and move the dish around to see how it looks in different angles. Get high on a chair, shoot from above, try getting close and inside the dish to show the details, cut the food and explore the interior, try to add some elements in the frame to support the subject. Just experiment.
Add some Colour
Food can look very boring despite how tasty it is. As a photographer it’s our responsibility to make it delectable. Some food which is white or brown can be garnished with some parsley or olive oil. Add a complimentary colored serving plate and watch the picture get better. Play with shapes and contrast perhaps slicing them creatively.
Showing the Temperature of the dish
Some need to be hot and some cold. For instance, ice cream can look like its been freshly scooped, but the character of the food is its temperature, which has to be shown to the viewer. So to make it look cold, try adding some dry ice to it which makes the ice cream look like it is cold in the pictures.
The challenge is that food often looks like it’s not hot in a picture even if it is. To exaggerate the heat of food, you can show the juice dripping from the meat or steam shooting off of food. Enhance the steam by placing the food in a darker background. Make sure the light is right above the food, it’ll look shiny. You could also brush a little olive oil for highlights.
Allow yourself to experiment and be kind to yourself if it doesn’t always come right. The things you should pay attention to are – lighting, background, camera angles and exposure for yummilicious photos.
What are your secrets to a great photo? Share it with us in the comments below.