We all love to see our food recipes in print but it’s equally important to have a nice picture to go along with the recipe. Of course, it has to be a reasonably enticing photo to be effective. We are often asked by contributors on how to take a good food photo. We are no experts by any stretch but have found that a little practice makes better.
What follows is what we’ve learned so far. It also helps to keep a food photo-journal to note what worked and what didn’t and you can jot down ideas for future photos. This can become your best resource!
This took a bit of time to get it right but its well worth a little trouble. Lighting food is no different than lighting any other good picture. Natural light is the most divine if you have a bright sunny window; food looks like the real thing in natural light. If you do not have adequate natural light then create a bright-room- feel with what you can.
Be aware of food placement versus light source, you don’t want a shadow on your food. Of course lights can create reflection on certain surfaces which is not always attractive. I took my first few shots on my granite counter top with the kitchen lights on and the counter was glowing but the food was dull. Experiment with your setting until you find those that work.
2. Top down? Not always.
It seems perfectly natural to take the shot holding the camera directly overhead but it should not be the default position. You have to get intimate with your subject matter; get down to the level of the food and adjust up or down from there. Of course, this is all while considering the light source as you adjust your position to ensure you get the most mouth-watering picture possible. You’ll get the feel for it as you take more photos. Experiment!
3. Make it look nice
Your food should be the focal point of your picture but you can add a few props to make a compelling statement. A pop of color with a placement as the foundation, a beautiful silver fork or crystal glass can be a nice accent.
Fresh flowers from your garden or sprig of rosemary can provide interest. Please don’t kill your picture with clutter. Consider proportions of your dish to the props, color and placement. The best way to learn is to view shots in magazines, on the web, etc.
Consider what the photographer has done to create interest. In many cases you’ll notice that the food is not right in the middle of the picture but offset right to left or top to bottom. That’s for emphasis. In photography it’s called the Rule of Thirds (read all about it).
4. Don’t Dilly Dally
The appearance of your beautiful dish can change from happy to sad in a few minutes. Have your set ready to go and then add your food and take your photos as soon as possible! You can test your set up by taking a picture with a food stand in – something similar in size to your finished dish to get a feel for placement and how you will frame the shot. Experiment before you dish your dish.
5. Brush Up on Technique
We were taking a picture of a lovely berry tart one night and through the lens of the camera the cherries looked a little dry so we used a very fine, light spray of water and snapped the picture.
The berries came alive with color! No harm to the tart either evidenced by how quickly it disappeared as soon as the final photo was taken (this is evident by the bowl of cherries instead of the tart shown here). A little brush of oil can work wonders as well. Professional food photographers use these ideas – search the web for more!
Expertise? Our readers would love to here your tips and tricks!