The following article is part three of a three part series on food photography by Shellina of The Frugal Flambe.
Click here to see part one at The Frugal Flambe.
Click here to see part two at The Paleo Project.
It seems that everywhere you look these days, more and more food bloggers are becoming interested in food photography. It’s not difficult to see why- if it’s possible to make food more appealing, more people will read about it. I am definitely one of those bloggers who has jumped on the food-porn train, and I’m totally addicted. There’s something really fun about taking a great picture of something you’ve made, and food happens to be much easier to catch in action than the only other thing I’ve made lately (a two year old kiddo).
But how does one begin to take awesome, or even good, photographs of their food? I’m constantly in pursuit of this question, and I’m happy to let you in one some of the secrets I’ve learned in my short time as an at-home food photographer.
Let me first start by saying this: I am NOT a professional photographer. I’m not even what I would consider to be a “good” photographer. (If I was, you know I’d have one of those “senior photo photography” businesses every other stay-at-home-mom has. I mean jeez. Really, I would.) Nay, I’m just a woman armed with her husband’s expensive camera. Heck, I’m not even that awesome of a cook. I can follow a recipe about as well as I can follow a map, and let me tell you, I’m directionally challenged. I don’t think I’ve ever completed a recipe with all the ingredients in it. (It’s amazing what your meals can do without.) So now you know, any information shared here obviously has either been born of accidental discovery, or I got it from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. On with it, then.
Top 5 things to remember while photographing your food:
Never, never, never, never use a flash. I know, the camera comes with it, and yeah, I know it’s easier than moving to another table in the restaurant or clearing a space on your desk by the window at home, but seriously, you’ll be happier with the results if you stick with natural light. Now, this means you need to take your food photos during the day, which is generally inconvenient when you’re photographing dinner. Luckily for us, it’s summertime, and the sun is out til like 9. Eat early, enjoy better photos.
Don’t be afraid to grab a different plate or two if the one you’re using just isn’t cutting it. For example: white rice on a white plate might not look so awesome in a photo, regardless of how appetizing it looks in real life. Do yourself a favor- go to Target and pick up a few of those dishwasher safe, colorful, cheap plates, (make sure they are solid colored), and experiment. You’d be surprised what a different colored plate can do for food.
Be mindful of what’s going on in your photo. Sometimes, you don’t need any props or background adjustment at all. Other times, (especially with particularly bland color palletted food), you need to spruce it up a bit. Experiement with towels, spoons, glasses, and ingredients to find the right combo for your photo. What worked for me? Scrapbook paper. I’m an avid scrapper, so I have tons of it laying around. It makes for a really nice background for a bland colored food. Try it.
Try out different angles when taking pictures of food. For flat, broad food, it’s almost always best to take a picture from above. Soup, bowls of stuff, etc, just look better when you can see into the bowl. Makes sense, right? But things with height need a different approach- try shooting from eye-level or even food-level. You’d be surprised what a difference it can make.
Believe it or not, getting really, REALLY close in on your food is not always the best option. Have you ever seen a photo of someone’s cooking, and even though it might have been awesome, you feel like your nose is in it? That’s not appetizing. Play around with zooming in and out, and don’t be afraid to “zoom with your feet”- meaning get up off your rump and actually walk towards the food, or away from it. This will indefinitely give you better angles and depth of field.
Now, this is, of course, not an exhaustive list of all you need to know to take good pictures of your food. But it IS a good starting point. Play around with these five- and hey- if you think of any more to be added to the list, share it here in the comments! Budding food photographers everywhere are literally desperate for help (me included)!