12 food photography tips to make your photographs look good enough to eat

 

Here are 12 great food photography tips to help you improve your own food photography and make every shot you take look delicious.

 

1. Choose the right backdrop

 

Your food styling and choice of background make just as much difference to your photograph as how your food is to be photographed.

 

Using a surface such as a rustic chopping board gives a totally different feel to an image which is shot on a clean white plate.

Think about the aesthetic you are trying to achieve and also match it up to what’s on your plate.  For example, if you want to create a cold image which inspires thoughts of winter, then using a white background could be the way to go.

2. Use props to tell a story

Once you have got an amazing background it’s time to start build your shot up.

Much in the same way you chose your background, choosing the right props can totally change the mood of a photograph.

A great place to start is put your plate in the centre of the image and then build your props up around it, that way your food always stays the focal point of your image and everything else works with it.

Take care to use props which are low key and don’t distract the eye too much such as cutlery and the ingredients of the dish.

3. Use diffused lighting

If you can make use of natural light, such as using a large window, this will give you the softest light for food photography.

If you don’t have access to a window or the time of day isn’t right, putting a flashlight through some form of diffusion such as a translucent reflector (LINK) or bouncing light off a reflector is a great way to replicate this.

4. Light from the side

If you’re photographing food such as meat, bread or cheese, which has a lot of textures, lighting your food from the side is a great way to bring out the shadows and highlights and create depth in your food.

Using one big light source and a small reflector to lift the shadows is a great place to start.

5. Use a tripod

 

If you have the luxury of using natural light then the chances are you will be using a shutter speed much slower than can be handheld comfortably.

As soon as your shutter speed gets below 1/60th, you should be looking at getting your camera on a tripod to keep your iso at 100 and avoid any blur in your photograph.

If you want a complete guide on how to choose a tripod for your food photography then check out this post here.

 

6. Use depth of field to your advantage

 

Depth of field is the distance between the nearest object in focus and the object farthest away which is in focus.  

You may want all of your subject in focus, and if shooting flat lays, this is probably your best bet, but if you want a lovely out of focus background to put the food front of stage then use a smaller aperture number.

It’s a great idea to experiment with different points of focus in your images to draw the viewer’s attention around an image – this works especially well with textured food.

 

7. Try out different camera angles

 

Most people are used to seeing their food from a seated position so make it your job to give them a different viewpoint and they may see something they hadn’t noticed before.

The most common angles to try are shooting directly overhead, which you can read more about here, shooting your food from a 45-degree angle and also shooting your food from the side which is really good for bringing out depth in your food.

 

8. Mix up your crop to maximise your food

 

Don’t be shy with how you frame your image, be aware that you’re trying to sell the food and not the plate or the propping so mix it up a little and crop through items in your frame which aren’t important in order to get a pleasing final result.

9. Be ready to work fast

This may be hard when you first start out photographing food but as you grow in confidence be prepared to work faster.

It’s a good idea to get all your lighting and propping ready before you put the plate in front of your camera. Use a dummy plate and build your scene around that before you get the real thing.

If you’re shooting things like salad leaves you’ll only have a very small window in which to shoot them before they start wilting and it makes the whole plate look unappetising. Meat will also start to dry out and look bland if left to stand for too long – which leads us on to our next food photography tip.

10. Keep the oil handy

Get yourself a small atomiser with some water and carry some oil and a small brush with you to all of your food photography shoots.

If salad leaves start to look a little tired a quick spritz with some water will soon make them look like they have been freshly picked from the garden.

Oil is great for bringing out highlights on food as the light picks it out nicely – be careful you don’t use too much though, as it can soon start to look greasy.

11. Work with the happy accident

For the perfectionists out there this one may be hard to work with, but if you accidentally crumble too much cake or your cheese melts just a little too much it may be worth working with it.

A perfect plate can sometimes look a little odd and adding that little bit of charm to it sometimes makes it more approachable to the viewer.

12. Don’t over edit

Our final food photography tip is to go easy on the edit.

You’ve done the hard bit in photographing the food and, hopefully, now it looks good enough to eat. So, try and restrict your editing to really simple tweaks such as sharpening and contrast to bring out the details which are already there.

If you start playing around with colours, your food will begin to look a little odd to the viewer and could put them off.

That’s it for our 12 food photography tips, if you have any more then please pop them in the comments below and as always if you have enjoyed this post please do sign up to our blog below and we’ll deliver you a new tip every week.

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