Food photography is one of the most creative niches in the photography world. As a food photographer, you can be as unique and inventive as you want while you design, style and arrange your dish to be photographed. With food photography, you can take a single item or plate and create a story that leaves the viewer captivated and hungry for more.
While some may believe that food photography is an easy form to pick up, it actually takes time and practice to create alluring food images. Food photography is a technique that needs to be developed and practiced in order to create images that evoke a mouth watering experience.
Use Varied Angles + Composition
One of the most important food photography tips to remember is to compose your images from different angles and perspectives. With this, you will have several different options for framing your shot.
You can photograph your food from an overhead, bird’s eye perspective creating a view of the entire table either horizontally or vertically. You can also focus in on one specific dish in order to obtain a close up shot that is full of detail.
Another way to compose and angle your images is to shoot at eye level with your dishes. This will give the viewer an idea of what the dish looks like from each and every side rather than just from overhead.
With both of these perspectives, you should aim to follow any grooves or lines that are present in your setup. Pay attention to how the plates and objects are intertwined with one another and the relationship they have with the background or table that you have placed them on. By using different angles and perspectives, you can find your own unique style of food photography.
Add Styling With Objects + Props
Another tip for creating engaging food photography images is to add a styling element with props. Food styling has become increasingly popular over the years as more food photographers aim to create images that evoke a feeling of place and time.
Food photography is meant to not only showcase a dish, but to depict what it means to gather and share a meal. With food styling adding props such as flowers, extra utensils, a delicate backdrop and natural ingredients can create a more cohesive and visually appealing story for the viewer.
To effectively utilize this technique, think about the story of the specific dish you are photographing. For example, in the image above of fresh baked bread, there was an added use of flowers and seasoning to exemplify a specific feeling of home. The bread and flowers is representative of creating an atmosphere that signifies the experience of creating a kitchen where you can cook, eat and feel as if it is your own. The extra ingredients falling off the plate gives a realistic depiction of the beautiful mess that comes with creating a meal.
By adding such props to your own images, you can create a world where the viewer can imagine themselves cooking, eating and enjoying the meal within your photograph.
Use Natural Light
The lighting you use in food photography may be one of the most important elements. While some food photographers may choose to use external, artificial lighting sources to illuminate their food, it is recommended that you use natural light whenever it is possible.
Natural light gives food photography a subtle, yet detailed look that cannot be matched with external or flash sources. Natural lighting will pull out the colors from your dish and define the elements that surround and style your plate.
To use natural light for your food imagery, consider setting up your scene next to a window. This will allow the most light to leak into the kitchen and illuminate your setting. Additionally, you can photograph your food outside for the most available natural light. This can be down on a wooden table or even on the ground to display a picnic like scenario.
Let The Food Add Color
The mark of a good food photographer is one who lets the food tell the story. While you may be tempted to place your food on your most colorful of plates, this often detracts from the main focus of your images.
Instead of using plates, backdrops, clothes, containers or utensils that are bright and exuberant with color, choose a more muted color palette. By utilizing colors and textures such as white, cream, wood and steel, you can allow the plating to act as the tool to deliver the food, while the ingredients pull the viewer in.
For example, when photographing colorful items such as fruits and vegetables, consider placing them on a white cloth or plate to have the texture and tones pop. Use an item such as a cutting board to draw the attention to the item being prepared. You can even add a sprinkle of herbs and seasoning around a plate to make your setup truly dynamic. In simple terms, with food photography less distracting elements means more attention to the detail of your dish.
Add a Human Element
The final tip to creating stunning food photography images is to add a human element to your photos. This allows the viewer to imagine themselves within the moment, cooking and creating a delicious meal.
Human elements are often simple touches that don’t detract from the subject of your image. This can be the hands of someone next to their dish or in a specific act as shown above with the pouring of milk into the coffee. This human essence is an easy way to give your images a new look and stand out from the rest. Specifically, this type of food photography is often used in cookbooks where the viewer can visualize the chef or baker’s actions and follow along with the recipe.
Adding this element of a human touch makes your food photographs that more compelling and intriguing.
Creating high quality food photography can be done with dedication and practice. By using varied compositions, adding food styling, utilizing natural light, letting the food tell your color story and adding a human touch, you’re ready to start crafting your own savory food photography.