The most complicated thing to photograph is not a skyscraper, it’s not a capricious model, it’s not even a greyhound in full flight. It’s …. a steak! If you don’t believe us, just ask any food photographer how hard it is to capture the most appealing side of a piece of meat. They’ll tell you it’s not as easy as it looks. Color, texture, sheen. Everything has to be just right in order for the photo to achieve its goal, which is to make you want to eat that piece of meat.
If you love to share what you eat on social media, brag about the restaurants you’ve been to and you want to make people really envious (like Jaime Oliver with his paellas), do it right! These food photo tips will help you.
PHOTO TIPS FOR PROFESSIONAL LOOKING FOOD PHOTOS
Lighting: The right lighting is critical in photography, so much so that it can turn a plate of spaghetti into a work of art or a professional chef’s prized creation into a disaster. When taking photos indoors, remember that fluorescent lighting is not recommended. Also, don’t combine natural and artificial lighting and pay attention to shadows. Ambient light will give your photos a cozier, more informal feel. For artificial lighting, choose side or rear lighting for a more professional effect. You can correct some defects with the filters on your phone, but don’t overdo it or your food may come out looking fake.
Focus: For the non-professional photographer, focus is probably the most difficult thing to get right, whether you’re using a phone or a camera. The newest telephones come with better lenses and focusing systems that adapt to lighting and distance automatically. With a reflex camera you can play around with depth of field to highlight a particular item on the plate over the rest or even make it move (careful with this though, if you don’t get it right it can be very confusing).
Showcase the ingredients: Although not the best way to emphasize the dish, one of the most popular styles nowadays is the aerial shot. Aerial shots of cereal bowls, cakes and pizzas abound in magazines and food blogs and on Instagram and Pinterest. Suddenly it seems that Foodiegraphers are like Pokémons – they’re everywhere. And that goes for the Barceló Illetas Albatros, an adult only hotel in Mallorca that recently hosted an event for the Igers Spain community, offering a workshop on “how to photograph food”: a master class for expert influencers focused on the best techniques for taking amazing food photos. Little tricks like steaming food in oil or water to make it look fresher and more appealing, using glycerin to keep ice cream and frozen food from melting or leaving the hamburger open ever so slightly to show the ingredients are just some of the aces up the sleeves of the most experienced foodiegraphers.
Minimalism staging: These are the two prevailing schools of thought in the food photography universe. While those who prefer the purity of the food argue that “less is more”, there are others who believe that the table, tableware and linens are also an important part of the photo. If you’re part of the latter camp, mind the details and don’t leave anything to chance: choose the right linens and tableware for the season or theme and make sure there are no visible imperfections. Otherwise, be prepared to Photoshop!