Perhaps you are a blogger or you have a food website and you need to know how to photograph food.
While it is easy to simply buy professionally shot photos, I think it is important to know how to photograph food.
After all, your readers want to see what the recipe looks like, they want to see the finished product.
You have dug out Aunt Ida’s old recipes and faithfully and lovingly recreated them to share with the world. The world now wants to see the results.
So how to present that old family favorite so that it looks tempting and appetizing?
Do you just pile it all on a plate, get out your faithful old camera with the settings on auto, point and click and hope for the best?
No, there is a little more to it than that.
Food Photography Tips
Let’ start with the camera. Not everyone can afford an expensive SLR camera. Nor do you need one. Camera technology has advanced so much that there are now compact cameras that will do almost everything an SLR does.
If you have a camera with manual settings, use them. Your pictures will be far superior if you do.
An easy way to do this is to manually set the aperture priority. On most cameras the symbols Av or A are used. This controls the amount of light allowed into the camera and is represented by f stops.
Then set the ISO to auto and the camera will do the rest. It will automatically select the correct ISO setting and shutter speed.
If you want to blur the background but have the subject in focus, select a small F stop. Conversely, if you want greater depth of field and have the subject and all the background in focus choose a large F stop such as F11 or F13.
Learn how to photograph food using different settings. With practise you will learn what works and what doesn’t.
One of the most important elements in photographing food is lighting. Get this right and all your photos will be instantly improved.
Natural lighting is preferable. Either outdoors or near a window. If this is not possible use extra artificial lighting, but preferably not fluorescent.
Turn off your flash, your food will look far more natural. Sometimes turning off the flash results in a lower shutter speed. You may need to use a tripod otherwise your shots will be blurry.
Also try lighting your food from different angles such as side lighting or back lighting. Don’t be afraid to use shadows for added dimension.
Before you begin think about how to photograph food you have created. You are crafting a work of art, so where do you begin? The nature of the dish and the ingredients are the starting point. Are you photographing seafood, vegetables or a delectable dessert?
Think about colours. What are the colors of the dish. Have complimentary or contrasting background colors.
Backdrops such as an elegant table setting, an outdoor barbecue area or a garden can set the stage. Scarves, tablecloths or sheeting hung in the background make excellent backdrops.
How will you present the food? Brightly colored plates, pretty patterned tablecloths, napkins or wooden boards all add to the setting. Then add props such as candles, cups, glasses, wine bottles, flowers, pieces of fruit or leaves.
What are the ingredients used in the dish? Perhaps have some lying around.
Don’t always assume that the best angle is directly above. Often the best shots are taken side on. Get down to the level of the food and explore different angles and shots.
Learn how to photograph food from different angles. Try tilting the camera for this distinctive shot.
Imagine your photo is a painting. How are you going to fill the frame? Think about the overall picture. Do you want a close-up photo or one with more detail?
Don’t be afraid to use your zoom. Your aim is to produce mouth-watering shots. You want your readers to be able to almost taste the food.
An effective shot can be a partial shot of the food, or get really close up and fill the entire frame with the food.
Above all experiment. Move around photographing the food from all angles. Try different light settings, different table settings. See what works best.
Perhaps the food lends itself to a theme. For example, salads suggest summertime with lots of fruit and vegetables. Casseroles are for winter. A curry can conjure images of exotic places.
Consider the food you are photographing. If it is a hot dish, allow it to cool otherwise you will simply be photographing a lot of steam.
If it’s fresh food you are photographing, you will need to work quickly before it wilts.
Most food is best photographed soon after it is made and not left sitting around to congeal or melt.
Last but not least you will need photo-editing software. Unless you manage to take the perfect photo, your photos will need some editing.
Cropping is often much easier and more effective this way than with your camera and you can play with colours and special effects.
There are many photo editing software packages available and you don't need to spend a fortune.
These are available as free downloads:
Above all have fun. You don't need to be a professional photographer to learn how to photograph food. Happy snapping.