Can you recall the last time you saw an advertisement for what looked like the PERFECT burger? Remember that mouth-watering feeling you experienced? Sorry to say this, but that burger was far from being perfect, or real. And, while this may be a disappointing truth as a customer, as a food photographer, you can use it to your advantage.
Food photography is essentially product photography.
It is used by all professionals from the food industry for advertising, be it a food blogger, a huge food franchise, or a local restaurant. But, make no mistake, it can all be used by all of us when we want to share our delicious dinner with our friends on Instagram or Facebook.
In today’s digital age, the saying “we eat with our eyes” couldn’t be any truer. The rapid growth of the foodie culture across social media, over the past years, is bringing huge business opportunities to photographers. So, it may be just the right moment to take advantage of the popular #foodporn trend by learning how to photograph food art.
1. Buy the right equipment
First things first, it all starts with having the right camera equipment. Now, camera equipment can be really tricky mostly because there are a lot of people telling you to purchase the newest and fanciest camera you can find with up-to-date features and settings.
Yet, the truth is that you don’t need a certain type of camera to photograph food. In fact, if you have a DSLR camera, it should be enough to take nice food photos.
However, there is one essential feature that you should make sure your camera has and that is a high ISO setting. Also, for food photography, you must also have features such as the ability to shoot in raw and multiple focal points.
Pro tip: having an LCD screen with a “live view” feature would be a great advantage that can make a difference in the way your photos look.
Other camera equipment and tools you may need include a tripod, to keep your camera still and reduce shaking and to help you take the aerial top-down images that are so popular these days, and obviously lenses.
2. Learn a bit of chemistry
Let’s face it, photography is a form of art. And, in fact, it seems that it is one of the most popular forms of art these days thanks to today’s photo blogging apps like Instagram or Facebook. And, like it or not, since the very first cave dweller that smeared mineral pigments on a rock wall, art and chemistry have had a strong connection.
But why is that relevant for food photography? Well, we should first note the fact that not only does art have a strong connection with chemistry but so does food. Food is made of many chemical compounds that can play a major role in the processes of cooking, processing, storing and even digestion.
But, the chemistry of these compounds can also have a major impact on how the food looks in photographs. The chemical compounds that food includes, from water to vitamins, minerals, enzymes, food additives, or flavors, can highly influence how the food will look in photographs.
Let’s take ice cream, for example. It melts almost immediately, especially when it is overexposed to light. So, imagine trying to get the perfect shot of a bowl of ice cream before it melts away. That’s a lot of pressure, right?
Well, every problem has a solution, and, in this case, the solution would be to use frozen colored mashed potatoes that will look exactly like ice cream in your photos.
Moreover, studying chemistry can help you develop special effects for the food you want to photograph.
3. Pay attention to details
Details can truly make a difference when photographing gustatory delights.
Choose the right angle
Like it or not, where you will place the camera when taking a photo of a yummy dish will affect the kind of story you want to share through your photos. Choosing the right angle implies placing the camera where you think that you will highlight qualities like shape, size, height, and its unique elements.
Understand that light is king
As with any type of photography, natural light is king. Regardless of what you are taking photos of, natural light can help you take the best quality photos. However, don’t forget to place that diffuser between the window and your table to avoid dealing with too much direct light.
Choose the right colors
Yes, you should learn a thing or two about the psychology of colors in order to choose the best colors depending on what story you want to tell. Yet, more importantly, make sure you choose neutral tones for the background of the food to make it really pop against it.
Place the food on the right plate
This isn’t exactly a photography tip but since you are photographing food it is absolutely worth mentioning. From rustic cutting boards to vintage chopsticks or knives, plain matte white plates, and ceramic bowls, these are all tools that can enhance your food photos big time.
4. Learn some advertising tricks
Now, let’s get to the fun part of joggling with looks to make food look yummier in your photos.
You could be the best food photographer in the world but if the food looks nothing close to delicious, your job is going to be 10 times more difficult as there will be a lot of editing. Luckily, if there is something that you can borrow from the marketing landscape, it is how to make things look more appealing than they really are in real life.
Let’s take, for example, the photos you see with shiny fruits, be it strawberry, apples, or grapes. The truth is that no fruit, no matter how healthy it may be, has that natural glow. What you see in advertising is actually the work of photographers who use hairspray or deodorant to make fruits shine.
When you are taking food photos for advertising, rather than to share them with your social media friends, you may want to learn a few more tricks like this one to make sure the results will make people crave the dish in your photo.
Quality food photography appeals to the emotions of the customers, leaving them with the mouth-watering feeling that is a desire they can’t ignore. So, when photographing food, make sure your photos will appeal to the eyes, minds, and stomachs of the viewers.
To learn about some dirty secrets of food photography, click this link.