Photography is one of the most fascinating visual arts as whilst painting, sketching and sculpting are about carefully taking a long time to capture a single moment, photography involves a lot of planning to ensure that a single split second is perfectly captured.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of food photography, which since William Henry Fox Talbot captured a bowl of fruit on a daguerreotype has captivated people and seen some of the most vivid and visible changes of all still-life photography.
From simply capturing a plate of food in front of photography backdrop boards, food photography has evolved in different ways to attempt to capture the vibrant, unique sensation of taste with the eye, which has led to an entire slate of techniques used exclusively when taking pictures of food.
Like most photography, the way to get started with food photography is to start taking pictures of food, but to take your images to the next level and capture what makes a particular plate beautiful, here are some top tips to take your food photography to the next level.
Planning Is Everything
There are three steps to taking beautiful photographs:
- Preparing the scene and setting up,
- Taking the shot,
- Editing the final image.
The more time you take in the planning stages, the better the final result will be, and if you are taking your photographs at a restaurant or at home, you have time to get your camera, backdrop, additional props and angle ready to take the shot as soon as the dish hits the table.
Many dishes unfortunately very quickly taste better than they look as they start to melt or look duller, so unless you are planning to use food advertising tricks you will need to work fast once the food arrives.
It can sometimes even be worth sketching how you want the shot to look, and looking around your kitchen for suitable props and utensils to fill the frame.
Be Ready To Improvise When Dining
Of course, if you are not working within your own kitchen or cooking space, you may need to improvise a little more to make a dish look as good as it can.
Start With The Basics – Then Style
Food styling is one of the most fascinating parts of food photography, as it can often be surprising just how few parts of a famous piece of food photography or advertising is actually edible.
However, the best way to use styling is to start with a basic shot, take the picture and then start adding accessories, backdrops, toppings, utensils, different light and angle adjustments until you are happy.
Of course, if you are planning on using a portable steamer to get cooking steam or replacing milk with PVA glue for desserts or cereals, you will need to plan ahead for that, but there are some tricks you can add in the moment.
Toothpicks or skewers are perfect for keeping food at the right angle and are perfect for making burgers look mouth-watering.
Speaking of meat, brushing the top with vegetable oil will help it look like it is shining in its own juices.
Even spraying fruit and vegetables with water can help them look fresher and more appealing.