How to Raise Your Food Photography Game: 11 Tips
Taking pictures of appetizing food can be so much fun. But do you feel like your photos lack punch compared to the ones you see on the internet? Do not worry. We won’t tell you to buy more equipment or cook finer foods. All we have are some simple, actionable tips.
If you’re an enthusiastic food photographer looking to up your photography game, look no further. Here we have all the ingredients to make your food photos shine.
1. Choose your location wisely
Taking snapshots of the food at your kitchen or restaurant table can be quick and easy, but it won’t do your food justice. So, learn to pay attention to the location and the lighting it provides.
Place your food near a window to get some natural light, which will enhance the appearance of your food. Opt for a table by the window or try the patio when dining at a restaurant.
2. Use a diffuser and a reflector
Strong lighting and dark shadows can spoil the look of your food photos. These are inexpensive ways to make the light soft and even on your food. Even if you use natural light through a window, diffuse it with a sheer white curtain. You can also get a 5 in 1 reflector.
Always add a reflector to bounce light and fill in shadows. To do this, you can use a white foam board, a white towel or a sheet of aluminum foil.
3. Check your white balance
Another common mistake beginner photographers make is choosing the wrong white balance. This can make your food photos inedible. For example, imagine a yellow tint on your fluffy white vanilla ice cream. Not very appetizing, is it? So set your white balance correctly.
Or shoot in RAW and edit it in your post-production software.
4. Learn to work with artificial lighting
We agree that nothing is more flattering than natural light, but you’re missing out on a lot if you limit yourself to shooting only in daylight. So give artificial lighting a chance. Then you can also take beautiful photos of your dinner parties.
Artificial lighting can be intimidating at first, but you can master it with practice. You can start with continuous lights and add flashes and strobes later. Read our guide to artificial lighting to learn more.
5. Add a human element
Are your food photos flat and lacking in punch? Next, it’s time to add storytelling to your photography. Go behind the scenes and capture the chef interacting with the food. Or tell how food connects and brings people together. Families enjoying a picnic or barbecue together can be ideal for storytelling.
You don’t have to have full portraits of people; just including their hands can have a significant impact on your images.
6. Catch the action
Movement in food photos can make your viewers hungry. Honey dripping, juice splash and icing sugar dripping are some ideas to elicit a reaction from your viewers. Sure, they can make your workspace messy, but they’re definitely worth it.
You don’t need any special equipment to capture the action, but a sturdy tripod can help. You do not need a model to do the activity. You can do it yourself while the tripod takes care of your camera.
7. Try different compositions
One of the mistakes beginner photographers make is only trying familiar angles. So it’s still a 45 degree angle. Or, sometimes, top-down plans. You should be ready to try different ways to capture the essence of your food.
For drinks and burgers, a 15 degree angle is the way to go. On the other hand, the pizza looks great taken from an up and down angle.
Generally, fill your frame and get closer to your food. But, sometimes you may find that adding more space looks better. So the thing to remember: don’t be afraid to bend the rules. If you shoot with your phone camera, try these smartphone food photography angles.
8. Use fresh foods
Do you use vegetables that are several weeks old in your food photos? You might feel a little less guilty for not wasting food, but your food photos won’t be appealing. Remember this simple rule: only use edible elements for your food photos.
Fresh food in itself is a perfect model – you don’t need to do much. Brushing your steak with oil to give it a fresh look or using glycerine to add a shine to your salad can be a quick fix. But, it misleads your viewers, and you also waste a lot of food. Instead, head to the nearest farmer’s market and choose the freshest produce to photograph.
9. Pay attention to accessories
Props like plates, bowls, cutlery and napkins play a vital role in your photos. They can make or break your photographs. So you need to understand the basics of food style to make your food more delicious. Also, you should constantly be on the lookout for exciting accessories.
You also need to be careful about pairing the right kind of food with the accessories. For example, adding a vibrant salad to a printed plate can make the whole scene too busy. Instead, try monochromatic soups that are perfect for printed bowls.
10. Introduce herbs and condiments
Want your food photos to look professional? Add a bunch of herbs or a nice carafe with oil and vinegar. Sauces, dips and other accompaniments make your food photos much more interesting than just the plate of food.
There is no rulebook to teach you how to place them. You just have to play around with different setups. Check out Instagram and other photography websites like 500px for inspiration.
11. Respect your subject
It doesn’t matter who prepares the food – you or a chef in a restaurant – it involves a lot of work. Always remember to appreciate the hard work behind preparing your food. Handle food with care and use gloves if you can.
Avoid adding pins and needles to your food to make it self-sufficient. Opt for a toothpick instead. This way someone can eat the food after you take the pictures. After all, it would be a waste to take a picture of the food and then throw it in the trash.
Arouse emotion with your food photos
Food photography isn’t just about capturing what’s on the plate. It’s about capturing the essence of food and telling the story behind it. You also need to include the delicious ingredients that go into it and present it appropriately.
And don’t forget technical details like white balance and proper lighting. Refer to these tips if you want to up your food photography game.