Food & Drink Magazine

Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

By Goedekershomelife @goedekers
Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

Photo by Flickr user Jeremy Keith.

Food bloggers all over the web include scrumptious photos of their recipes in their posts. These photos serve to better illustrate the recipe, grab your attention, and leave your mouth watering. It’s been proven that the higher the quality of your photos, the more traffic you will receive on your food blog. But how can you improve your photography skills? Here are some tips from the pros themselves.

Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

Photo by Flickr user TheBusyBrain.

Always use natural light – never the camera flash

Any good food photographer is adamant that you should avoid using the flash to illuminate your food if at all possible. It will only flood your image with harsh light and make it look unnatural. Try to take your photos during the morning or afternoon. If you have to take them after the sun’s gone down, find some other form of lighting that provides a softer glow.

Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

Photo by Flickr user Steven Depolo.

Carefully compose the photo

The style and composition of your photographs is important. You should arrange your food well, making sure it looks visually appealing. Try your best to fill the frame, leaving very little dead space around the dish. Lindsay from Pinch of Yum recommends using three focal points to create interest – generally, this means the food and two props.

Also pay attention to your surroundings. Often the background will be blurry or barely seen in your photographs, but if it is not, make sure there isn’t any clutter visible that could detract from your photo.

Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

Photo by Flickr user Geoff Peters.

Add details that make sense

As I mentioned, props can play a role in your food photography. This can mean a variety of things: ingredients or cooking utensils you used, cutlery, cutting boards, other dishes, linen fabrics, and much more. Garnishing with some sort of sauce or other topping may also be a good choice.

Ultimately, use props and garnishes that are relevant. They can improve the composition of your photograph but only if they make sense in the setting.

Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

Photo by Flickr user Compassionate Action.

Mind your camera settings

You should take some time to learn more about whatever camera you’re using, as there are several settings you will adjust to help you capture better photos. Many of these have to do with the brightness level, such as the exposure, the ISO settings, and the aperture.

The aperture also affects the depth of field. Some food bloggers suggest using a wider aperture, which brings the subject – your tasty meal – into focus while gently blurring the background. This effect is called bokeh. However, don’t overdo the bokeh and blur out too much of your food.

Other features of interest are the white balance and the macro setting. Set your white balance before you start shooting, otherwise you will end up with a lot of tinted images. The macro setting can be an excellent tool for focusing on a subject that’s close to the camera, but again, don’t get excessive with the bokeh effect in your photos.

Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

Photo by Flickr user Neil Piddock.

Steady the shot

A tripod is a good investment if photography is a hobby of yours. If you don’t own a tripod right now or you’d rather not buy one, you can use something else to stabilize your camera, like planting your elbows firmly on the table.

Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

Photo by Flickr user Maricar Mangaoang.

Include some action

The food you photograph doesn’t necessarily have to be untouched. Don’t be afraid to cut into that delicious-looking piece of cake, showing off the icing and scattering a few crumbs. Making it look like it’s in the process of being eaten implies that it’s a recipe someone will enjoy. Even sticking a fork or spoon in something can get the idea across. This also adds focal points of interest.

Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

Photo by Flickr user Wim de Jong.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

Don’t take a couple of photos and be done with it; take several shots until you are completely satisfied and you know you’ve gotten the shot you want. Experiment with different angles, perspectives, and depths of field. Get creative with what props you use and how they are arranged. Even professional food bloggers say that practice makes perfect and that, with digital cameras, the worst that will happen is deleting a bunch of photos you don’t want.

Secrets to Stunning Food Photography

Photo by Flickr user djpoblete09.

Use photo editing software sparingly

Minimal use of photo editing software can enhance your photos. For PC users, this would be programs like Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. If you’re more of a Mac person, try iPhoto or Aperture.

When editing, fix a few key things:

  • Lighten up dark photos
  • Correct colors, because sometimes your images can end up tinted yellow or blue if the white balance is off
  • Crop your photo so it’s the dimensions you want and any unwanted dead space or background clutter is eliminated
  • Play with the hue, saturation, and contrast a little

Otherwise, don’t make any major changes. Filters or massive color edits can make your food appear cartoonish, strange, or inedible.

What is your favorite food to photograph? Do you have any suggestions you feel I overlooked? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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