5 Tips For Taking Better Food Photos
Do you take photos of your food? If so, perhaps you’re among the 69% of millennials taking photos of what we eat, usually to share on social media.
With our obsession with eating for the ‘gram on the rise, we’ve spoken to some of our favourite food bloggers to get their tips on how to up your food photography game.
1) Make the most of natural daylight
Kacie from The Rare Welsh Bit prefers to take photos of food in natural daylight, wherever possible.
“When photographing food at home, I’ll cook the dish during the day and photograph it on my dining table, which sits directly in front of the window, while there is still plenty of natural light. Similarly, when dining out, I always try to get a window seat.
“There are some great artificial lighting set-ups you could invest in but in my opinion, you can’t beat a shot taken in natural light; it always makes for a crisp, clean photo.”
2) Be adaptable when taking food photos in restaurants
“Food photography in restaurants can be tricky, without professional lighting and often in rather cramped spaces,” says Fiona Maclean of London Unattached. “I’d recommend asking to move table if the restaurant isn’t busy; a larger space – preferably with natural light – will help a lot. Use common sense if the restaurant is busy though, of course!
“When the light is poor, try steadying your camera by leaning on the table with your elbows. Alternatively, ask a friend to help with a selfie light or (worst case) phone light, held at some distance above or to the side of the shot. If all else fails, ask the restaurant if you can take your food shots at the pass, where the lighting is always extra bright. We often ask the waiters what looks pretty on the plate too – in a new restaurant it can help to have a bit of insider knowledge when picking your dishes from the menu.”
3) Keep it simple
“The old saying, ‘less is more’ is something we should bear in mind when perfecting our food photography”, says Heidi from Kitchen Talk and Travels.
“Keep it neat and tight. I personally don’t like ‘messy’ photos, although they are very popular at the moment. I always try to get right in close to my food photo and get sharp, detailed images. I try to use the rule of thirds and also have the grid lines on my camera.
“I also like to use a round plate on a square background showing only a little of the back ground to offset the roundness of the plate or bowl. Also, keep any messy fingerprints off the plate, or little droplets or spills. This makes the final photo look messy. A crisp white plate or bowl on a dark or mottled background, tight in and close up, is my preferred style.”
4) Consider the kind of food you’re serving when presenting the dish
Besides styling your dish to perfection, it also pays to think about the appearance and consistency of the food you’re serving when deciding how best to present it. Helene from Masala Herb gives the example of photographing soup in a bowl:
“When taking a photograph of a soup, use a bowl instead of a shallow plate. It’s easier to take a picture of a soup in a bowl than in a plate because you can easily set the focus to the soup. Besides, if you serve up a soup with vegetables, noodles or meat, you will find it to be easier to do that in a bowl. Your soup will look fuller and absolutely delicious.
“Another trick is to use white, grey or black bowls. Also, too many patterns confuse the picture and take away the attention of the viewer from your beautiful food. Less is always more. For example a Chinese noodle soup will pop out in a simple white bowl. I personally prefer matte, non-glossy soup bowls as it’s easier to control the highlights in the photo.”
5) Direct the viewer’s eye to the focal point of the image
According to Jeanne from Cooksister, the secret to taking a great food photo is to lead the viewer’s eye to the epicentre of the photo:
“One of your jobs as a food photographer is to tell the viewer where to look; to direct their eye to the most important part of the photograph, or the “hero”. An image is usually stronger and more appealing to viewers if one element is emphasised and there are various ways to do this:
– Use selective focus so that the hero is in sharp focus and the background is blurred (use a large aperture like f2.8)
– Use natural leading lines to lead the viewer’s eye to the hero (e.g. cutlery or trailing napkin “pointing” to the food)
– Use a pop of bright colour (e.g. a red chilli garnish) where you want the viewer to look
– Use the rule of thirds: mentally divide your frame into a tic-tac-toe grid of 9 squares. The hero should be on one of the lines – or better still, on an intersection of two lines.”
What other food photography tips would you add? Comments below.