Basic Food Photography Tips

In today’s age of the Instagram, almost everyone is a foodie – a term for people who loves documenting what they eat each meal. It is almost an automatic thing to take out one’s camera and take photos of the food served on the table.

It has come to a point wherein some food establishments have to put up a “no food photography” policy, because diners sometimes complains of too much camera flash originating from the next table.

Food photography, however have reached enormous popularity that it has become an artistic expression. But what is an artistic expression if you constantly take bad food photographs? It would be better if you take some time to learn the basic principles of photographing food in order to achieve staggering numbers of social media “likes” each time you uploads a food photograph on your Instagram and Facebook account.

Here are some useful techniques that you should remember when taking pictures of food. Remember, food photography has now become a huge part of advertising campaigns and who knows you might end up with a career of doing it.

Use of Bounce Cards

Most restaurants today only have mood lighting systems installed therefore the amount of lighting is not enough to highlight the many colors of food. Using a silver and white bounce cards will help fill in any unnecessary shadows caused by existing light. Veteran food photographer Ricky Rhodes advises food photographers to use these cards in order to create more details and also adds more texture and color to your food images.

More Forward Focal Point

Most amateur food photographers often makes the mistake of just focusing on the food itself, neglecting to realize that the other garnishes can distract the viewer from the main subject. Successful food photographers suggest focusing near the frontage of the food. This will result into drawing your viewer into the whole frame. You may want to try doing this while your camera aperture is set to the widest aperture opening to achieve a shallow depth of field by isolating your food subject from its surroundings.

Shoot Overhead

Shooting overheard is the safest way to start for those new to food photography. Try not to make the mistake of shooting at an angle wherein the food will look like it is sliding of its plate. Shooting overhead will also add more props and flexibility to the frame. When you’ve mastered this art, then you can experiment with shooting from other angles.

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Sample of shooting overheard.

Build Elevation

In order to prevent boring looking food images, try to build height in food dishes by adding fresh herbs, garnishes, a lemon, lime wedges or a squirt of sour cream over it. This will make your food look more exciting as compared to looking bland.

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Adding herbs and other ingredients to build height.

Copy the Natural Light

The ideal time to photograph food is during a sunny day, with the window wide open. However, not everytime you can shoot on this condition. You should learn to mimic natural light by using some lighting equipment such as a ProFoto Actute B lighting kit with a big softbox, this portable lighting provides a sunny-like lighting environment even on a cloudy day and inside a dark room.

Mix your Food with Props with Interesting colors and Textures

Adding a grape or a blushing red strawberry to a dish provides additional texture and colors to your food. Experiment with other colorful elements which can be added to your food like a slice of orange, a cup of coffee, a misplaced knife or spoon, and even a wooden cutting board.

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A sample of food with props.

Make Minimal Photo Editing

Food photography is best presented as it is, there is no need to make a lot of post processing on food images, the colors of the various dishes incorporated into a plate is more than enough to provide a pleasing image. That said, just edit out portions not really needed in the image such as crumbs of breads or drops of soup and other blemishes surrounding the main food subject.

There you go, these are just some of the important but very simple techniques you need to remember when taking photographs of food.

Being a foodie is a great start to take your fondness and potential to a different level. Explore the online world of food photography tutorials, blogs, magazines and forums. There is an endless source of information out there. Remember though that you should keep your unique ideas and make them happen!


About Kristine Buenavista

Tin oftentimes takes her folding bike and old camera along country roads. Sometimes, she forgets to take pictures (though she never forgets when she finds great photos elsewhere). She narrates through words and images here. Travel, creativity, laughter, cerveza negra, scavenge hunt for beauty, starry-windy nights are among the things that make her feel weightless.

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