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