Food Photography Tips

PUBLISHED:Jun 18, 2015 | UPDATED:09:09 AM, Jul 01, 2015

…for those with a passion for photography

I think if I had to pick another career, it would be a chef!

I love cooking and trying new recipes. I love going out to eat and trying something completely new. Presentation is important to me (as a photographer, I appreciate art in my food as well!) As I have created recipes at home through the years, I take a picture of my dish and write out the recipe and save to a folder. ONE day, I’ll print this “cookbook” for my kiddos!

The following are tips for doing your own food photography:

1. Simplicity is key.

Watch out for distracting elements in your background (especially bright/white objects that draw your attention away from your food). If you are shooting in a cluttered area, use a large poster board as a background. Lean it up against a wall/back splash and let it curve down to the surface of the table/countertop; or in the case below, I simply used the centerpiece on my table to prop it up.

2. Fill your frame.

The subject here is your food….fill your frame with it. Close shots are great for detail and texture.

3. How to frame it?

Your dish will usually tell you. What captures your attention about the food? What’s the attractive part? Things like texture, color, shape. If the top is more interesting, it may be better to use an angle from up high. My favorite angle is from down low, closer to the table. With proper lighting, the texture will really pop.

4. Make Use of a Shallow DOF

Using lower aperture numbers like f/1.8 and f/2.8 as well as getting in close will help in getting those shots that gradually get blurry and help draw the viewer’s eye into exactly the part of the dish you want them to focus on. This is best used from lower camera viewpoints and especially fun with items “in a row” like below.

5. Make use of a deeper DOF

For dishes that are best photographed from a higher point of view, use a deeper DOF (larger aperture numbers and not getting as close). There is nothing more disappointing than having a great dish with a beautiful garnish, and the top of the dish is in focus, and the lower elements (such as garnishes on the plate) are out of focus.

6. Lighting

Probably the most important of all. Don’t use your pop up flash, or even a flash unit. Find natural light from a window. The directional light will highlight the textures and shape which will ultimately accentuate the deliciousness of the food! If eating out, ask for a table next to a window. Also, for extra fun, play with a flashlight and even gels (you can even use colored duct tape) over the light to get complementary colors.

7. Make your own steam. You can burn insense to give the illusion of hot food steaming. Insense works well since it can easily be manipulated by waving your hand or simply shaking the insense stick behind your food.


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