About Time: You Discovered The Art of Food PhotographyBy Angelica Malin
You’re sitting in a restaurant and the waiter brings you the meal that you’re anxiously waiting for. She lays it before you and you are immediately pleased by how pretty and delicious it looks, so you reach for your phone and snap you take a photo. This is such a common occurrence in our contemporary lives and has certainly opened up new doors for food photography. Really good food photography, though, is an art in itself.
Whether you are trying to capture the most tantalising, mouth-watering shot for a restaurant advertisement, a food magazine, cookbook, a blog post, or you simply want to document your beautiful meal for your Instagram feed – whatever the case may be, there are some secrets and tricks to achieving professional photographs that can turn your food photos from good to sumptuous and sensational!
The How-To of Taking Delicious Shots
It is a myth that you need to have a really expensive, high-end camera in order to produce good quality photos. Truth be told, the art of it has a lot more to do with how you use the technology and set up the shot, than merely the technology itself. What you need to do is:
– Decide on Framing
First consider how to best frame the photo so that the food subject is displayed optimally. This often requires playing with angles. Aerial perspective is generally a good angle for food, especially for something flat like a pizza, whereas a tall burger or stack of pancakes might be a better shot from a straight-on angle. Figure out what complements the subject best, and how to arrange it within the frame of the shot.
– Colour and Composition
Composition is the way that you arrange your subject, foreground, and background within your established frame. For an example, check out our five things you need to eat in London article. Every composition is unique, playing with colour and balance. Sometimes the perspective is up close on the food with a blurred background, whereas others are a single shot of a delectable treat alone on a plate. Each composition is different, but complements the subject, making it always the primary focus of each photograph. The point is to complement and not overdo it with props, otherwise you will lose your subject in all of that noisy distraction.
– Lighting and Focus
Avoid flash. Flash can make things look distorted and unnatural. It is best to go with a natural light source – like sunlight – and photograph your subject in indirect lighting. This means not placing it directly in the stream of sunshine flooding through your window (since that can also be harsh and unbecoming) but near it. You can always increase the brightness easily in post-processing, whereas if you need to remove brightness, it will result in a distorted image, which is often muted and lacking in definition and appeal. So when in doubt, go for underexposure as opposed to overexposure.
– Filters and Editing
As was mentioned above, because lighting can’t always be controlled, especially in a restaurant, this can always be adjusted – among other imperfections – in post-processing. From making the photo more dynamic, drawing out the colours, or blur distracting backgrounds to bring your subject more into focus – all of this can be done with some basic editing software. Whether you choose to do this through the industry leader Adobe Photoshop, or decide to go with one of the many alternatives, spend some time getting used to the software so that you can use it to your utmost advantage.
– Choose your Subject Wisely
Last but not least, perhaps this is quite obvious, but only take pictures of food that people will actually want to eat. Regardless of how good that brown soup or messy curry may taste, if it doesn’t look appetising, it won’t make a good subject for food photography. That being said, even if you choose the perfect subject, consider your time frame. Even the most delicious looking dish will no longer look good if it has been sitting there too long.