How many times have you looked at a recipe book and saw those drooling pictures of food and tried recapturing the pictures with a big fail? Most of us try it and what we don’t know is that photography food is not an easy task and food photographers have a few tricks under their sleeves.
Carefully prepare your setting and use colored table cloths or plates that match or create a contrast with the type of food you are shooting. Try not to use silverware or if you use it make sure that it is out of focus because you don’t want reflections of yourself or your camera in a spoon next to a delicious bowl of soup.
As we all know, light is the most important aspect in photography. You can have the ugliest thing and set up amazing light and turn that ugly thing into something beautiful. So before you start photographing your food make sure that the light falls in the right direction. The best kind of light to use for food photography is natural light. If natural light is not available, don’t use your flash. Flash tends to create harsh shadows and that does not look good in food photography.
This is one of the most important steps in food photography. Color balance can be corrected in Photoshop but if you can get it right in the camera that will save you time in post processing. Most DSLRs come with automatic settings so take advantage of those settings. You don’t want to be photographing a nice piece of meat and end up with yellow or blue color cast because that will just not make it look appealing.
Shoot a Lot
That is one of the advantages of digital photography. There is no film to waste, so shoot as much as you can. Use different angles and try different photography techniques.
If you are using available light then you will often need long exposure and the slightest movement in long exposure will create blur. Artistic blur is good, but nobody wants a movement blur. So use a tripod and if you don’t have one consider getting one. A tripod is one of the best investments in photography. Also pressing the shutter usually moves the camera, so if you don’t have a remote-release use the camera’s self timer.
Don’t be afraid to emphasize on one part of the food. Sometimes zooming in creates wonderful pictures and can take photography onto another level. If you have a macro option, use it. Fill the frame with the food, so that you will make the viewer wanting that particular food.
Sometimes while you are preparing a salad or anything you will find yourself looking at the chopped up ingredients and say “wow this looks beautiful” and indeed it does. So take pictures while preparing the final product that you are going to photograph.
Be very quick. The longer you take the less fresher the food is going to look. You can prepare the camera by using an empty plate and when you think you have everything right, then transfer the food onto that plate and shoot right away.
This is the most frustrating part of food photography. You capture the most beautiful picture, and then you view it on your computer and find out that there is stray food on the edges of the plate. Sometimes this can be removed in a photo editing program, but sometimes it is not possible. So make sure that you clean up anything that you don’t want to be in the pictures.
If you are going to photograph cooked food then make sure that you undercook it. Yes it is a waste, but cooked food looks best when it is undercooked.
From my experience after seven years of being a photographer, I learnt that some food products are not meant to be photographed. Food that is mostly the same color or brown sauces are better left alone, because they matter how hard you try, they will never look good. So go ahead, and start from today. Remember, we all make mistakes and the best thing is to learn from those mistakes.