Food photography is one of those types of photography that has gotten popular in recent years, thanks in part to the growing popularity of food and restaurant blogs that capture a variety of culinary delights that make the eyes and mouths water in hunger. And such would not have been possible without the help of some great photography employed on the food.
As such, photos can make or break a food item. So it is important that as a photographer like Soven Amatya, they are presented properly and in a way that they would be sought by gustatory senses of the viewer. We have compiled some tips in ensuring great food photography below:
1- You Only Need One Light Source
Food photography is definitely one of those genres where less is more; any elements added would make one lose focus on the subject itself which is the food. To ensure this is just a matter of carefully selecting a single large, diffused light source. Oftentimes, a simple window will be all you need to create beautifully diffused back or side light on the subject, creating dimension and highlight the textures in the food. Remember that the best light for food photography is the light they won’t even notice when they look at the photos. We want it as natural as possible.
2- Shoot in Different Angles
Just like human subjects can be photographed from more flattering angles, the same goes for food. It’s important to remember that the concept you see in your head might not always make the best photo. Get the shot you think you want, but then take a few minutes to recompose and take another. Variety is important, particularly if you are shooting for a client. Clients like choices. Also keep in mind that different angles will be better (or worse) for different types of shots. As with any other type of photography, choose your angles carefully. It is your choice of camera angle that creates a sense of depth, perspective, and scale. Choose wisely. Remember that an added benefit of shooting food is that it won’t get bored or frustrated with you while you take your time getting everything just right.
3- Get It Right Quick
Many food photographers would say that you have a very short window of opportunity to get the shot once the food hits the table. To a certain extent they are correct. Hot dishes in particular are going to look their best when they are still hot and fresh out of the oven. That doesn’t mean though that the food’s first appearance in front of the camera has to be once it’s fully camera-ready. Always make sure that the budget includes extra food, the so-called “dummy food” where you can spend time on it composing and making sure that your camera and light settings are where you want them. Once they are ready for the real thing, they bring out the “hero food”– the dish that has been perfectly selected, prepared, and plated. Running test shots with dummy food helps take the pressure off when it’s time to shoot the hero food.
4- Consider the Depth of Field
There is a natural inclination to shoot as wide open as possible when using natural light. Shooting at f/2.8 or f/1.8 can certainly create soft, artistic backgrounds, but keep in mind that you might actually want more of your background in focus than shooting wide open would generally allow when shooting food, especially If the narrow depth of field (DOF) would not let the viewer recognize the food or ingredients in the background. Remember also that DOF applies from side to side, not just front to back. A close-up of a dish is essentially a macro shot. If your focus falls off too quickly in any direction you can kill an otherwise beautiful shot.
5- Know How the Photo Will Be Used
Are you shooting for a cookbook? A magazine? Product packaging? Knowing your audience and how the photo will be used is going to play a huge part in how you compose or crop your image. For print, consulting with the client regarding layout is crucial. That’s one of the reasons for shooting multiple angles to provide with choices as to which would go where.
6- Never Ever Mess with the Food Stylist’s Work
Don’t learn this one the hard way. You take your job seriously and so do food stylists. Once the food hits the plate it’s off-limits to you. You can turn the plate if you want to, but if something needs to be moved, ask them to move it. If something needs to be added, ask them to add it. They’ve been hired for the same reason as you: they have the talent in making food look presentable and they know what they’re doing. Besides, they’re not messing with your camera, so don’t mess with the food in return.