Whether you want to take a photo of a dish in a restaurant or something you have cooked at home, there are a variety of tips and tricks of the trade that photographers use to create stunning, professional-looking images.
But if you’re a food blogger or just enjoy taking photos of your culinary creations as a hobby, professional-level equipment might be out of reach. However, with a little insider knowledge, a few props and design tips, you can achieve professional-level food photography with your smartphone and a good photo editing app. Here are some tips to get you started!
Professional food photographers will typically work in studios with elaborate lighting setups, but you can get amazing results with just the natural light through your window. You will want to avoid direct sunlight, as the shadows cast are too harsh and the image will be very contrasty. Bright, but overcast days are ideal, as the light coming through your window will be diffused.
You can also use a reflector, even a white sheet of A4 paper can help bounce light into the shadows, but be careful not to overexpose the highlights.
Avoid using the on-camera flash as much as possible, and investing in a pocket-size tripod will help keep your images sharp.
Most new mobile phone cameras will have two or three (or even more) lenses, typically marketed as 0.5x, 1x, 2x magnification. The 0.5x setting will be wide-angle and best avoided as the image will look distorted.
1x or 2x magnification will be close to a 50mm lens, and will be better suited for getting close up shots of your food subject.
When it comes to composition, remember the acronym KISS - Keep It Super Simple. Avoid placing anything in the frame that detracts from the main subject, and move the camera around to find the right angle that makes the dish look even more delicious. Overhead shots can work very well, but 45º tends to produce a more dynamic shot.
Depth of field
If you can use your smartphone camera in manual mode - as some apps allow - then setting the lens to a wide aperture - the smaller the ‘f-number', the wider the aperture - will produce a narrow depth of field, meaning that while the subject is in focus, the background will be blurred. This can be a good way to eliminate distracting clutter for the background that you can’t physically move.
Clean white plates on clean white backgrounds are always popular for food photography, but it is not the only option. Backgrounds can provide a more editorial and lifestyle look. Develop your own style over time, and curate backgrounds and props that work for you.
Food styling is an art in its own right. Always make sure the food on the plate looks fresh and delicious. Try to include a mix of shapes, sizes, colours and textures to the plate, and, as above, remember KISS!
As mentioned above, not everyone will have a state-of-the-art DSLR, nor will they have access to the latest professional photo editing software. But there are so many different free and inexpensive photo editing apps for your smartphone or laptop that can help fine-tune your images.
Keep editing minimal, and just like when marinating your food, taking your time will give you a better perspective and produce better images.
If you’re looking for food photo backdrops, visit our online store today.