Have you ever been served up a plate of food so incredible looking that you just have to snap a photo to share with friends?
So you go ahead and do that and then look at the photo… and it just doesn't capture it. What you have on the plate and on your screen are two completely different things and the photo just doesn't do it any justice. So what's gone wrong?
Don't feel too bad – photographing food is tricky. But once you know how, it becomes a lot easier and a lot more fun. Here are some tips that will help out.
One of the most important things to consider when taking photos of anything is your lighting. Unfortunately, taking photos in the kitchen is just a big no-no in this case because the light is so flat and artificial. Likewise, using the flash is a big no-no.
The best choice by far is to opt for natural light and you want to position your plate in such a way that it gets lit from the side (Rembrandt lighting). This will create shadows and contrast which in turn adds texture and dimension. It should also nicely bring out your colors. This is a million miles better than the flat, black mush you might have been shooting before!
Take a Few Photos
You can also create more dimension and depth by changing your angle. Does this particular dish look best with a top-down bird's eye view? Or perhaps it looks better at angle so you can see layers?
It might not be immediately obvious which angle is best, so the best advice is to try several and then go with whatever works. Likewise, play with the composition and experiment with fresh ideas!
Set the Scene
It's not just the food itself that matters in your shots but the whole scene. You want to remove that dirty napkin from the background for instance as it just makes the whole image look dirty. Think too about the presentation of the food on the plate. Simply taking a napkin and wiping some spilled sauce off the edge of your crockery will go a long way to making the food look more impressive. Likewise, it doesn't hurt to add some garnish to your meal!
Another tip is to invest in nice crockery. White plates and bowls are best for showing off your meals as they allow for the most contrast and really highlight the food.
You can also find ways to make your compositions more interesting. Perhaps you want to show several dishes in a single shot with one particular course taking 'center stage', just off center? Or maybe you could try focusing in on that ice cream sundae while having people chatting and enjoying themselves out of focus in the background?
A fork taking the first mouthful of a meal can also be a fun shot, as can photos that show the preparation process.
Another fun trick is to set out several dishes of the same meal next to each other and to photograph them for a more impressive impact. Food photography doesn't have to mean the exact same shot over and over again with different meals!
Experienced food photographers use impressive cameras with lenses that let them narrow their depth of field to focus solely on the subject of the photo (the food) and to blur everything else nicely into the background. You can do this yourself with cheaper equipment if you know how though – look for 'macro' or 'selective focus' settings on your device!
Still not finding that your photos pop like the pros? Well here's the secret: those pros use a whole host of tweaks after they've taken their shots to make them look glossier.
For starters, increasing the contrast is a good way to make any image look a little more professional. What also makes a big difference is saturation – turn this up and your veg will look all the more mouth-watering!
What we've already been talking about is also an easy-breezy Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which will definitely help to enhance your photos even you're a newbie to it!
So give these ideas a go, don't be afraid to play around and see for yourself what a difference a few changes can make!