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How to photograph delicious food

Just recently, French chefs have started to asking costumers not to take photos of their food. No more #foodporn? Well, they have a point, there’s a lot of really bad photos out there. How often do I scroll trough my instagram feed, reading “look what i cooked my hubby #bestwifeever” and thinking “wow, heated up canned vegetables and think all the world should know”. Let’s be honest, there’s just a loooot of bad food photography out there.

So, here are my tips for delicious food photography.

Stay Fresh

Nobody likes old food. In photography “old” can be one minute. Take the photo as soon as possible. As soon as the stuff drops on the plate, press the trigger. Fresh food just looks a lot more delicious. In professional food photography they work with all kinds of tricks like adding tiny “water” drops or even painting with color whatever doesn’t look fresh. So we amateur photographers have to be quick, taking full advantage of the first magical moments, when it’s all still gleamy (even though my wife, a nutritionist, likes to call that special gleamy layer “the stuff that kills you”) and steamy.

The Right Point of View

A bad perspective can ruin the nicest meal. If you just stand with your camera and take a photo right above your plate, it will most likely look neither spectacular nor too tasty. So get low and get close!

If you are getting really close to the subject, not everything will be in focus, essentially blurring the table around and maybe even parts of the plate. This gives you the chance to have certain elements stand out. The viewer of your photo will be guided what’s important in the picture. Use the chance to do guide him.

Delicious Food Photography, Oliver Erb

However, as we will later see, this doesn’t necessary have to be the only perspective. What I’m saying is: Don’t be boring, just play around with the point of view, try what works best for you – and always keep in mind there’s people around you, so don’t take it too far and knock someone over while you’re searching for the best point of view ;).

Don’t even think about the Flash

You will not, I repeat, never ever ever use the flash. Remember the magical brilliance I was talking about? Flash completely f****s that up, makes everything shine like a sweaty bald head. Would you like to eat a sweaty … well, let’s just say don’t do it.

Instead, just work with the available light all around you. Restaurant owners are smart guys (well, at least the successful ones). They are well aware of which light is best for illuminating their dishes.

Delicious Food Photography, Oliver Erb
The red light in this Indian place was the best lightning one could ask for.

Upgrade Your Photo

One of my most recurring advices will be to take a look around. All around you, there is so much cool stuff, that will enhance your photo in many ways. You just have to look for it.

In this photo for example, I could have decided to just photograph the plate right in front of me (yeah I know, just a minute ago I said go close and focus, blabla), but I felt like including the bigger picture. Just look at the great colors all around the main object. How boring would the photo be without all these colors and objects all around?

Delicious Food Photography, Oliver Erb

Different situation: dinner table. Take a look around, what do you see? Glasses, bottles? Perfect! Use them, maybe even steal some flowers from the living room and get down to work.

In this case I additionally to moving around the glasses a little bit also turned down the lights around the table, letting the light help me to focus even more on what’s important in this picture.

Delicious Food Photography, Oliver Erb

Or maybe even let the prop play the main role. Who cares about the food if there’s a wonderful refreshing bottle of real Mexican coke on the bottle? And remember what I said in the beginning, be fast. A full, dark bottle (I was very very thirsty, all right?) would have looked even better in contrast to the yellow tablecloth and the lucid red logo.

Delicious Food Photography, Oliver Erb

Be Creative

I am far from being an expert on food photoraphy, just giving you some advice how to start off. But in the end, you will have to try what work’s best for you. You wanna turn a dirty dish into art? No problem, go ahead!

Creative Food Photography

Let me knwo what you think! Or even better, post some links to your own food photography!

Rocket Science

Let me start the new year with some photos, I snapped a few years ago.

Rocket Science

At this time, I didn’t have a great camera and even though I was shooting with high exposure, the photos were in my opinion quite decent.

Rocket Science

As you might see, I was pretty fascinated with the rockets blasting off into the night sky.

Rocket Science

Rocket Science

Rocket Science

Yesterday / this morning I took some other photos, I’ll post them too these days.

Holi Macaroni

Last weekend I went to a Holi event in my town. Holi is a Hindu religious festival and therefore celebrated mainly in India and Nepal. However, in the last years it has been widely commercialized and turned into a huge party in many cities around the globe. So I went there with mixed feelings…

Holi Festival Of Colours Karlsruhe

I had first seen a Holi Festival in the movie Outsourced quite some years ago, but heard about it from some Indian friends in the USA a couple of years ago. A main idea of the Holi celebration is throwing colored powder at each other and thereby erasing for a moment social barriers such as age, gender, status, and caste. The video of a Sony commercial illustrates nicely how colorful this event is (and no, Sony doesn’t sponsor me, the video is just interesting from a photographers point of view).

So, here are some photos from the event:

Holi Festival Of Colours Karlsruhe Continue reading Holi Macaroni

Zombie Wonderland

Right now it’s that time of the year when American students take a break from their stressful life and … well, get wasted and STDs. It’s Spring Break Time! Party Time!

But have you ever thought of those students who are left behind? I experienced that during the Winter Break. Within two days almost everyone on the entire campus vanished, except me and a few other international students, who wouldn’t go home for the holidays. So I stayed a little longer (dont worry, a few days later I left for New York) and experienced something that 99% of the other students would never see: Zombie Wonderland!

Night at UNT

The campus was exactly how you would imagine a city in a zombie movie, just minus the destruction and the undead. As someone had the brilliant idea to turn of the wifi in the dorm (it’s not like these international students might wanna talk to someone on christmas, right?), I strolled around the empty campus at night and took some of these photos. Continue reading Zombie Wonderland

Mexican Coke

I love soft drinks. Even though I try to limit it to drinking one bottle a week (since I’m not a big fan of cancer, overweight, etc.), I’m still a huge fan. When I went to Mexico a few years ago, I took the chance to have a local coke. The Mexican Coke, also called Coca Cola de Mexico is something really special. It comes in a glass bottel and is sweetened using cane sugar.

I drank this special coke in Acapulco. Some of my Mexican friends took me to this place with questionable hygienic standards close to the beach. To my surprise, the food and this drink tasted just awesome! I just love to explore a city with locals and be suprised in this way. I’ve had a similar experience in Mexico City, where again my friends took my to a really small, dark place, where I ended up eating the best Mole in all the trip.

Mexican Coke

Another advice for soft drink lovers: If you ever come to Texas, make sure to try Dublin Dr Pepper – at least if you are, like me, a huge fan of Dr. Pepper.

Booom!

When I arrived at the old factory, some people had gathered. Not many, but at least some. Good sign! Before I hadn’t been sure if there would really be something happening. News were going around that a controlled demolition team was about to blow up something. For them it was no big deal, they hadn’t announced this anywhere in the newspapers, just involved the necessary officials. However, the news had found its way to some people and I was one of them.

It would be excagerating to speak of a spectacular event. To be honest, the actual explosion was neither loud nor involved any impressive fireworks. It was a subtle boom and the tower collapsed in itself. Show over.

Blowing stuff up

At this time, I didn’t had the best camera, so I was pretty happy to have got at least one decent shot. Oh, and note the little pink toilet both on the left side. Which cruel boss sends his heavy duty guys on a pink John?