Food Photography: Top 11 tips to get started

If you are an amateur or cannot afford much of the professional equipment required for food photography, then this article is just for you. Today, having an excellent photographic content has become an absolute necessity for food bloggers. Great food photos draw the attention of the readers and make them want to read on. They also create great shareable content and indirectly increases the user engagement and clicks on your site.

 “Treat for a belly made a feast for the eyes”

 Source: Playful Cooking

1) Choose the right background: The main purpose of the background is to enhance and add interest to your final image. You can capture the images on solid white or black background so that the focus remains entirely on the food. Wooden cutting boards or picnic tables are ideal for presenting Indian cuisines like dosa, idly and so on as the contrast adds texture to your photo. Choose plates that best suits the food aesthetic and augments visual appeal of the food.

 

  Solid black background for food photography 
Solid black background for food photography

 Source : Indiafoodphotographer

1.a) You can try a marble pastry slab, which is classic and holds up over time or you can use a dull, non-glossy finish crate and barrier pastry slab for ideal photography. Old and distressed sheet pans offer an incredible background for top-down ingredients and also offer texture and character.

Marble pastry slab as background
Marble pastry slab as background

Source: Camille Styles

1.b) You can employ ceramic and porcelain tiles which are cheap and can be easily wiped down. Inculcate colour or texture to your photographs by making use of craft or construction paper. The below image depicts Nasi Ayam Penyat rice placed on ceramic tiles.

   Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic Tiles

Source: Pixabay

1.c)  Furthermore, you can employ paper grocery bags, natural parchment paper, thin plywood, foam boards, kitchen linen and clothes for food photography.

Brochette on parchment paper 
Brochette on parchment paper

Source:  Shutter Stock

2) Capture natural light smartly: The essence of excellent food photography lies in capturing your subject in the best natural light.  Finding the right light is critical for good photography. It gives you the feeling that the food is freshly prepared and ready to consume. Soft light works best, i.e., the time from early to mid-morning or just before sunset. 

A photo capture using good natural light
A photo capture using good natural light

Source: Blogvine

In summer, you can click an image near a window without direct sunlight. In winter, where natural light is sparse, you can use artificial light and some reflectors to diffuse the light.

Chicken Biryani shot using Artificial light
Chicken Biryani shot using artificial light

Source: Baritoz

3) Stop using smartphone flash: Do not forget to turn off the flash before you take a picture because you will lose details. Direct flash tends to result in harsh shadows and overpowers the background and messes your photo with reflections. Alternately, you can hold a torch just above the food or drink and capture the photo.

   Using torchlight to create special effects
Using torchlight to create special effects

Source: BuzzFeed

4) Use a tripod: It is very common that hands shake when you snap a picture and eventually results in blurry or shaky photos. Make use of your phone’s camera grid settings for the best food photos. Never use digital zoom for a detailed shot — instead of that, you can step physically closer to the subject. You can purchase a phone tripod on online shopping portals like Amazon and Flipkart for as cheap as Rs. 200.

 Smartphone tripods & Portable Studio used to get jitter-free and well-lit shot
Smartphone tripods & Portable Studio used to get jitter-free and well-lit shot

Source: BZA.co

5) Capture when it is fresh: Fresh food is the best for an original photo. If the food is two to three days old, the difference is visible.

 Fresh Jalebi
Fresh Jalebi

Source: Pixabay

6) Take a bite: Go ahead and take a bite. It gives an authentic look and augments the natural look. It also gives the impression that the food is in the process of being eaten which makes it more desirable. While taking a bite, ensure you have your teeth involved and keep your lips stay away so that it doesn’t mess up the clean edge.

Take a bite
Take a bite

Source: Digital Photography School

7) Play with props: You can make use of napkins (clean ones), condiments, and table decorations for an exciting composition. You can also play with garnishing or you can angle your plates to bring life to the photo. Use neutral props that don’t compete with the colour or texture of your food. You can try a wooden photo board, unique cutting boards, parchment paper, white and neutral cloth napkins, a variety of bowls, plates, utensils, colourful napkin clothes or even fun paper straws.

Prop Rustic spoon augments the elegance of cookies
Prop Rustic spoon augments the elegance of cookies

Source: Krew I Meiko

8) Angles for unique composition:

Overhead shots or straight-on angles work best with food since most smartphone cameras feature wide-angle lenses. Some subjects are the best shot from the sides.

  Camera angles - 0°,  45° and 90° for food photography
Camera angles – 0°,  45° and 90° for food photography

  Source: We Eat Together

8.a) A 90-degree angle (bird’s eye view) top down is the favoured mode for shooting food. This angle is suitable for foods with different textures like salads, pizzas, tapas dishes and more.

A 90-degree angle or bird’s eye view  
A 90-degree angle or bird’s eye view

Source: We Eat Together

8.b) You can shoot foods with layers such as Rice Poha (image below) or a bowl of fruit at a 45-degree angle (also called standing eyesight). It adds a sense of depth to the photo and enables viewers to get a view of what is inside the dish.

45-degree angle or the standing eyesight
45-degree angle or the standing eyesight

Source: Cubes N Juliennes

8.c) Table angle or o-angle is excellent if you want to highlight colour, height and texture differences like a row of items of varying sizes and series of glasses with colourful juices.

Table level angle or o-angle
Table level angle or o-angle

Source: Shutter Stock

9) Odd numbers are usually better: Odd number works wonders for food photography and creates a better composition. The photograph is always better in odd numbers and fits perfectly in the square Instagram space. Odd numbers, in general, are more pleasing to the eye than even numbers. Having three objects in a shot is perfect, but if it is five, seven or more, it poses a risk of clutter.

 Odd numbers
Odd numbers

Source: Cotter Crunch

10) Think like an artist: Give an artistic look to your dishes — think like an artist. Decorate the plates like professional chefs with spoons, squeeze bottles, tweezers and so on. Put together various food styling kits like paper towels, cotton swabs and others to meticulously assemble objects in your frame.

  Chocolate ice cream scoop styled with wafers 
Chocolate ice cream scoop styled with wafers

Source: The Cooking School

11) Incorporate a human element: To make food photography look lively, don’t hesitate to bring people into the frame. It can be as simple as a person grasping a glass or even with people interacting and enjoying the food. Ensure that the people in your photograph wear dark or muted colours (in particular black or grey). Avoid bright clothing, as it draws the eye away from the food that you photograph. Decorate your plates similar to a painter designs a canvas to have an artistic edge.

Bringing hands into frame makes lively photo
Bringing hands into frame makes lively photo

 Source: Nathalie’s kitchen

Bonus Tip:

Editing or post-processing is critical to create your style and take the image to the next level. Make basic adjustments to your food photos and fix exposure, saturation, white balance and so on in settings. You can use programs like Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Spark and Illustrator to edit photos. Some apps like VSCOCAM, SNAPSEED and VIBRANTLY are the best choice for editing photos that you shoot with your smartphone.

 Food photo editing using Adobe Lightroom
Food photo editing using Adobe Lightroom

                     Source: Weedit.photos

 

 

 

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