If you’re a photographer or blogger who is just starting to learn food photography, you might find it tricky to create beautiful food photos that you’ve visualized in your mind.
Hey should be simple so the audience can focus on the food, but at the same time, it should also look luscious and enticing, enough to make the audience want to grab that food.
Food Photography Tips for Beginners
If you’re looking for basic food photography ideas for beginners and bloggers, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve compiled these easy food photography tips and tricks and a few basic techniques to improve your photography. Whether you’re shooting for your blog, tutorial video about food, editorial work for a magazine, or simply because you want to make your personalized cookbook, this article will help you get the brilliant results you strive for.
- Using harsh artificial light
Like in any other branch of photography, food photography lighting is the most important thing you should master first, as it can make or break your photos. Some photographers choose to work with natural light only, giving the best effect. Other photographers opt for artificial light, as they get consistent lighting and white balance throughout the photoshoot, which saves them from a lot of work in the post-processing.
On top of that, artificial light in food photography gives them flexibility in terms of time, as they’re not constrained by the times to take photos.
If you opt for artificial light, do not use a direct flash, or worse, overhead tungsten light. Invest in a good quality flash and a reflector or bounce card. Never direct the flash towards the food background, as the light will fall harshly, and the food will lose all the details, making it look flat and unappealing.
The best way is to use a reflector to bounce the light to the food. You can experiment with the angles, camera settings, and intensity of the light to see which works best for each food shot.
- Not setting the light on different sides
You can do so much with lighting for food photography, as long as you don’t just stick to one side when you set the light. Experiment with the front lighting, backlighting, and side lighting, and see their difference on the food photography backdrops.
Front lighting is the least complicated, and it’s a safe choice as there will be less shadow on the food. The results look nice enough with nothing special.
Side lighting is usually used to show the textures and contrast of the food, making the details pop out.
Backlighting, while tricky to do, is worth the effort. It gives a clean, light background that helps turn the focus on the food while also highlighting the glorious details of the food. Backlighting needs a lot of practice to master (wrong exposure and automatic settings can cause dark shadows on your food, so always use manual settings).
Keep trying, and you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. Once you’ve got this, you’ll be able to create food photos with a fancy editorial look.
- Not using fresh ingredients
Food photography tips are all about the appearance of the food, so you need to make sure that every food is in perfect condition. Wilted lettuce in the salad or a bruised tomato can ruin your photo, and don’t think of working out an angle that could hide the flaws (more often than not, they don’t work quite well).
Only use the freshest ingredients to save yourself from the extra work.
- Shooting only after the cooking is done
Shooting after the food is cooked way too late, as you’ll miss lots of opportunities to take good shots in the cooking photography process.
Don’t start after the food is cooked, but started way before that, when the ingredients are prepped! Some things don’t look great when they’re cooked (think of boring soup, pasta with white sauce, or brown dishes like chilli, beans, or stuffing).
Sometimes a little garnish can help, but when it still looks flat and boring, you can try shooting the cooking photography process. There are times when the raw or half-cooked ingredients look more appetizing than the cooked dish.
- Taking photos only from 1 angle
When it comes to angle, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Different foods have different angles that show their best look.
For example, this cheese and fruit platter looks best from above, while a taco or burger looks best from the side. That’s not to say there’s only one angle that works for each food, though. Instead, sometimes you need to show the food needs in various angles to make it easier for people to visualize.
Explore the angles you can think of for each dish, and don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative!
- Not taking photos with negative space
Many photographers stick to these two ways when taking photos of food:
Filling in the frame to show the whole dish;
Getting close-up shots of the food to show all the luscious details;
They tend to forget there’s one more way they shouldn’t miss, and that’s taking photos with negative space.
Leaving a blank space in a photo will be useful for your clients when they need to put a logo or write in it, so be prepared to accommodate this.
- Bumping up the saturation too much
Sometimes, editing can be a hit or miss, and food photographers can fall into the trap of bumping up the saturation too much to make the food photoshoot look more scrumptious with all the colors.
Yes, food generally looks more appetizing when the colors pop out but be careful not to oversaturate your photos, as it would only make them look unnatural and weird. Try to get as close to the real colors as possible.
- Using too much food for plating
It might be tempting to put a lot of food on the plate, but it won’t look good on the camera. Too much food on the plate would only make it harder for the audience to keep the focus on the important elements.
Food photography is about simplicity, so put enough space on the plate for the audience to appreciate the food. Less is more!
- Letting the food sit around for too long
There are some foods that require you to move fast and do everything quickly once they’re ready.
Leafy greens in salads, for example, will look wilted after some time, while meat can look a bit dry after sitting around for some time. Make sure you do your setup before the food comes so you can spring into action when they’re ready.
You can use empty plates or bowls for setting up and replace them later once the food is ready.
- Not paying attention to the props and styling
Just like a little makeup can do wonders for a photoshoot, so can props and styling. Food photography might look easy, but what is not so easy is the styling.
The best way to do this is to keep it simple and clean, especially the props. Since the food should be the main star in the photo, you should stay away from crockery and tableware that can potentially divert the focus away from the food, no matter how pretty they are. Use neutral colors for your props and backgrounds, and let the food be the hero.
Since there will be close-up shots, make sure the plate or bowl and the cutlery are pristine. Don’t let even a crumb or a speck of liquid on your prop (unless you deliberately do that for style). Every imperfection will stand out when you zoom in to get the food details and take the focus away from the food.
When it comes to styling, do your research beforehand to know the tricks to make the food look more appetizing. For example, adding a bit of oil to vegetables and meat will make them glisten and look succulent, while a sprinkle of water on a salad can make them look fresher.