Food Photography: Pro Secrets for Taking Mouth-Watering Pictures of Food
Taking great photos can be a challenge in its own right. But composing an appealing image of food is a hard-earned skill.
These days, everyone is posting snapshots of their latest meals. Take a quick scroll through Facebook or Instagram and you’ll be bombarded with never-ending streams of food images, from decadent burgers to scrumptious, colorful cakes.
If you have limited resources, it may be difficult to skilfully compete with all the food pictures out there. But, remember, regardless of the subject matter, a great photo doesn’t just happen. Gorgeous, mouth-watering photos are not the result of simply pointing and shooting.
While you can turn to apps or books to help improve your food photography, nothing beats experience. To help you capture the flavor of food through your lenses, get inspiration from the following techniques and best practices used in professional food photography.
- Know the basics of photography
To get great results, you have to start from the beginning. When it comes to food photography, that starts with understanding three main details:
Regardless of whether you’re shooting with a DSLR or your smartphone’s camera, understanding these three details will mean the difference between an evocative photo and a blurry, unappealing snapshot.
Knowing how each detail impacts a photo will play a role in the story you’re telling with your photography.
- Lighting emphasizes the textures of your food and the color of your ingredients.
- Styling or plating highlights the aesthetic beauty of your food.
- Composition frames your image to best showcase the strengths of your food.
Understanding these details will help you get better at capturing pictures of your food. These details should serve only as guidelines, so feel free to experiment and play with your food in interesting ways.
- Props matter
When it comes to food photography, props can be just as important as the arrangement of food. Putting the wrong prop or accessory in the frame may clutter the image, distracting viewers away from the main focus of your photo: the food.
Your props should serve as accents to your food, complementing the color balance and textures of your food to highlight its aesthetic features. Keep in mind how colors and textures balance each other.
Being thoughtful in how props add dimension and personality to your picture can make even the most unappetizing dish look unbelievably scrumptious.
- Be quick
Unlike other photography formats, the subject matter available to food photographers often has a very short shelf life. There is often a very short window from when the food is made to when it will turn that you can achieve photography success.
This may seem obvious, but the moment food wilts, collapses, or changes color is the moment your food loses visual appeal.
This becomes particularly true when you start employing harsh artificial light like hot-shoe flashes or studio lights. To make the most of your ingredients, be prepared beforehand. This means having your props framed and ready and picking the freshest ingredients.
- Angles are everything
Every subject, from architecture to humans, will have a flattering angle that will create a more pleasing photo. And we all want to see photos that capture our good side. This is especially true with food.
When it comes to food subjects, take a minute or two to figure out what angles will best emphasize the visual elements of your subject.
A pizza, for example, will benefit from an overhead shot due to its flat nature. An ice cream scoop, on the other hand, will look best shot from a 45° angle to emphasize its three-dimensional contours. And a juicy burger stacked with all the fixings will look great cut in half and shot directly at eye level to show the arrangement and texture of the ingredients.
The best way to learn what best suits your subject is to shoot from multiple angles.
- Practice, practice, practice
Certain rules apply to all aspects of life. The concept of practice is one of those fundamental, important rules. Remember the expression, practice makes perfect? Well, there’s good reasoning for that.
Practice programs and rewires our brains to acquire and master new skills. Practice, and lots and lots of it, is arguably one of the most important things you can do to improve your photography. Practice will enable you to hone your skill to such a high degree that it becomes second nature.
If you’re looking to take your craft to the next level, there is no substitute for hard work and practice.
Your photos should be as delectable and tempting as the food themselves. Whether you are shooting appetizing mains or gourmet desserts, you want your images to capture flavors, textures, and aromas that evoke nostalgia and tell the right food story. Bear in mind that photography is an art form, but it should also be fun.
Experiment, try new things, and think outside the box. You may be surprised with its results.
Barry Morgan is the creative force behind Barry Morgan Photography. His passions are photography, food and family, although not always in that order. He believes you should love what you do, to do exceptional work. Cooking was always a family affair in his home so naturally, once his passion for photography took root, he was drawn to food photography. Barry Morgan Photography now works with hundreds of clients, turning their tasty dishes into mouthwatering visuals.