Tag Archives: instagram

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!


The Artist

Last week I saw this street artist in Stuttgart. Street artists are usually something that let’s me rest for a moment and take a closer look – or a photo. First I thought he was painting on the street, however I realized he was “just” painting on a large piece of paper.

Street Artist

It was a little hard to say if he was actually still working on that painting. From my point of view it seemed as if the painting was completely finished and the guy just repainting various parts over and over. Who knows?

Street Artist

How boring would a pedestrian area be without the little blurs of colors that street artists and musicians give them.

The Awesomeness of Mobile Photography

We all know the saying that the best camera is the one you have with you. In most cases, this means a smartphone camera. However, when you ask many photographers, they will keep telling you that mobile photography is crap. When you look a what’s trending on Instagram, they have a point. On the other hand, what I’ve seen people do with their DSLRs made me lose my faith too. A camera is a tool, in gifted hands it creates art, in less talented hands it creates … output. Just take a look at the Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera Series by DigitalRev TV.

When I look at mobile photography, I am always stunned what you can get out of a tiny sensor and a cheap lens. What makes all the difference is the software. Phone manufacturers are dealing with the physical limitations of their cameras by enhancing them with the right software. I am working with a Samsung Galaxy S, a phone that was produced in early 2010. Technology-wise, this thing is from the stone ages. However, I still manage to produce some presentable shots.

Small River in the Mountains

In this example, I used an HDR app to get some more details and afterwards added an Instagram filter. I know what some people think about vintage filters, but I believe that used properly they can actually improve a picture.

So, what do you think? Could this photo have turned out much better using a professional DSLR?

John Wayne ain’t got nothing on my fringe game, hell no

I’m sure you’ve heard the song Thrift Shop these days. This song (and in my opinion the entire genius album “The Heist“) is worth actually reading the lyrics and not just listening to the beats.

According to the omniscient Wikipedia after the success of the song “thrift stores have reported an increase in business, especially among college students”. So if you haven’t realized yet, the fur coat is in style again.

I wear your granddad’s clothes
I look incredible
I’m in this big ass coat
From that thrift shop down the road

Thrift Shop

Honestly I admire people who have the brains to realize when they look stupid but also have the balls to go for it anyway. And especially when you are pimp enough to have a personal butler who carries your recently acquired painting for you. This is winning like Charlie Sheen.

Is that your grandma’s coat?

Dead Pigs and Pianos

Last october I took a walk through an area of my city called “Schlachthof” – slaughterhouse. Back then this must have been a pretty bloody and creepy place.

In 2006, the last steaks were made and the place shot down. Right now it’s in the process of becoming a home for arts and creative business. A bunch of mostly media and advertising agencies have opened offices there, as well as nightclubs, restaurants, etc. In a nutshell: the place to be for any hipster. So of course there is always a swarm of folks, who instagram every inch of this place … something that I would never do…

Piano Workshop

What can I say? Couldn’t resist to check it out. And yeah, I had fun. It was a pretty cool place after all. You wanna explore more and more. Walking around I suddenly came across this little piano workshop. While I can’t explain why the owner decided to store some of his pianos outside the building, I kinda loved the look of it. These time-worn pianos surrounded by buildings that looked like they would come down any minute … it really fascinated me. I’m excited to see how this place will change as construction goes on.

I’m a thousand miles away from home just waitin’ for a train

Aynone recognize the quote above? If your tip was this guy, then you might have been right.

Anyway. I took this photo with my phone on the way to giving a presentation in Cologne. When the train stopped at Frankfurt Airport, I looked out of my window and saw these two people waiting for their train.

On the Way

I personally have already waiting way too long and often for trains in my life, so I really knew how these two felt. That actually (and the fact that the camera in my SGS is not the best) made me decide to use Instagram and give it a little darker, depressed tone. God, how I hate waiting for trains!