Food photography, sometimes fondly called foodtography, has been a trend since digital cameras, smartphones, and social media sites became ordinary, everyday tools for most people. The interest grows stronger, especially with enthusiasts and experts alike becoming increasingly creative with the shots they take, which earn positive responses from their social media connections and followers. Food establishments are capitalizing on this trend, too, to boost their marketing. Campaigns such as encouraging customers to share their food photos through online contests bring more visibility and interest for the business.
You don’t have to be involved in the food biz or professional photography to be interested in taking tasty-looking, enticing food shots. If your lifestyle allows you to sample different types of food, or you have fellow foodies in your circle who would love to learn about menu items in the restaurants that you get to visit or the treats you whip up, taking good pictures is bound to be a responsibility, or for some people, a passionate hobby.
The following are some fundamental principles of good food photography that worked for me and have helped in taking great food photos for the eyes to feast on.
The 10 Best Food Photography Tips
1. Natural daylight offers the best lighting.
The natural blend of light and shadows tend to bring a nice depth to the image. Just avoid direct sunlight since it’s usually too bright. Instead, take pictures by the window where light is filtered a bit and it streams in from just one origin point.
2. Go with a neutral background.
You want the focus to be on the food and not its surroundings. However, if you’re taking photos in a crowded restaurant, you may download an app on your smartphone that will allow you to blur the background.
3. Always think about color contrast.
You want all the components of the photo to complement and compliment each other. Make sure that colors look accurate and “pop” because of each other.
4. Study some food styling basics.
Move dishes and items around to fill space or to create negative space. Think of the plate or the table as a landscape where some items add height, increase depth or highlight certain unique shapes.
5. Look for the best angle for your subject.
For plated dishes, the best angle is from the top because it presents a full view of the subject (beverages, cakes, and other “tall” food items are a different thing). However, don’t shoot from directly above the subject. Instead, study which points capture the light better and emphasize the true colors of the food.
Don’t hesitate about continuously taking shots especially if you’re using a smartphone. With the multiple shots you take from different angles, you’re bound to find one that looks really yummy.
6. Leave some negative space for better composition.
Doing this will draw attention to the different shapes and lines of the subject. Also, you don’t always need to put the subject at the center of the frame. Experiment with placement of objects to see which best achieves the most pleasant-looking final image.
7. Try the “whole and portion” shot.
There’s something really appealing about shots that show a slice from a big cake, or a forkful of pasta hanging from the packed serving dish. Such images indicate that the food is ready for consumption, and stimulate the viewer’s desire to eat what’s pictured.
8. Incorporate a human element.
Include your arm or hand in the shot to show that food is not just for visual appreciation but for complete human satisfaction.
9. Create a story.
If you’re familiar with home staging, the principle of this tactic also works for food photography. Creating a scene can automatically make food more irresistible because it’s presented as an experience. For instance, imagine someone spending a relaxing afternoon – there’s a hardbound copy of a bestselling novel, a cup of tea and a delicious slice of pie. How could anybody not want that kind of day?
10. Embrace imperfections.
Spills, a crumpled napkin, lipstick on the coffee mug – all these add to the appeal of food photos.
If you want a few more tips check out this video by Sony:
When you take food photos, the main idea is to make the viewer feel like they are in front of the food and they can just gobble it up. If you’re able to make them feel that way, that’s a clear sign that your food photos truly look yummy.
Share your food photography tips and images in the comments below. Let's see if we can make each other hungry just looking at them!
Author bio – Barry Morgan
Barry Morgan is the creative force behind BM 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. BM Photography now works with hundreds of clients, turning their tasty dishes into mouthwatering visuals.