With the ever-growing popularity of food photography and passion for cooking, everybody seems to be photographing their food. However, take away the retro filters and jaunty angles and food photography can be tricky to master. Rendering the colours correctly, capturing the steam rising from a hot meal, and getting the lighting just right are not as easy as they look. However, for people who enjoy drooling over the vivid photographs in recipe books, learning how to take the perfect food shot is a skill that is well worth learning.
Top five tips for excelling at food photography
1. Think props. Look at photographs of food in books and magazines. Each dish is presented beautifully against a gleaming plate, a colourful tablecloth or a perfectly positioned flower. Don’t clutter your shot, but make sure the surroundings are spotless and complement the food.
2. Think angles. It might be tempting to shoot a plate from above but, often, using lower angled shots creates a far more interesting composition.
3. Think speed. If you are used to taking still life photographs, you will be amazed at how quickly you need to act when a plate of food is placed in front of you. Avoid wilted salads, dried out steak and melted chocolate decorations by being ready to shoot the moment the food is presented. This means getting your lighting set up and composition planned in advance.
4. Think macro. Sometimes, it is essential to capture the entire plate in focus, however, there are situations where a sharp focus on one particular aspect of a dish, and gentle bokeh in the background, can really enhance an image. When using a macro lens, a tripod is incredibly useful, especially if you are in low light and need to use a longer exposure.
5. Think lighting. The way a plate of food is lit can make or break a photograph. A harsh flashgun can create areas of overexposure and distracting shadows, while a lack of decent lighting will result in a dull, flat image. Using the right equipment and understanding when to use natural vs artificial lighting are absolutely vital preparation for planning a food photography shoot.