Momos, spinach steam momo, fried and steamed momo garnished with green coriendar. best food photography.

9 Tips and Tricks for Food Photography

Food photography is a form of still-life photography focused on taking attractive still-life photographs of food. Unlike still life, food photography is more commercial in nature. It includes photography for cookbooks, menus, magazines, and for packaging. Though the process might at times look simple. Any good professional food photography is a collaborative effort of an art director, a photographer, a food stylist, and their assistants.

Food photography isn’t always about clicking a food as it is, but sometimes food photography demands a little exaggeration of food and its environment for a proper shot. 

Almost 180 years after the famous photography pioneer William Henry Fox, Talbot took the first shot of peaches and pineapples. Since then food photography has prospered to great heights and is possibly one of the most famous photography genres. 

So, if you are interested in photography, then here are a few tips and tricks for food photography to twitch your photography game and create good shots. Let’s get started with the list of these tricks:

Use Neutral Background

healthy and delicious fruits.

When we think about the food we warm colors come into our consciousness, because of human evolution. Mostly because ripped fruits are warm in color. So it’s no surprise that the food is often warm in tone. Hence, a good photographer always uses color or a somewhat neutral background to increase the viewer’s attention to the food, not to the background. A colorful and graphic background tends to compete with the subject. As our whole intention is to enhance the food subject, we should always opt for a neutral and un-reflective background. Hence, these will be the best tips for food photography.

Choose Your Angle

Green coffee in the designated cup on the white ceramic plate. Scattered coffee beans around the table looks pretty good.

Unlike any other genre, food photography is especially challenging. Because a single serving of a dish may contain reflective and glittering subjects. Such as drinks and ice cubes to blunt subjects such as bread, muffins, or chapati. So, to make a perfect shot a photographer should take shots from multiple angles. And see which angle justifies both subjects, for single-served dishes, as layered ice cream served in a glass you should take pictures laterally to show the layerings.

If you are doing cake photography, you should take the shot from above, to show the icing, art, and designs of the cake. Likewise, If you are taking a photo of coffee art, take it from above as the cup holding the coffee is mostly opaque.

Take Control of the Shadows

Mix fruits on the ceramic plate with sun shadow making this picture soo pretty.

If you are shooting in an outdoor setting, or sometimes in an indoor setting but the light source is either fairly bright or the doors and the windows bring too much light into the object then it’s obvious that you get a very defined shadow.

Though the shadow gives dimension to the shot, a very harsh shadow takes people’s eyes away from the food, right? To avoid harsh shadows from the food, you should shoot on an overcast day while you are shooting in an outdoor setting because clouds will abrupt a fair amount of light so that you can take a good photograph of your subject (here food) on an outdoor setting. Another way to control the shadow is to move your subject to a lightly shaded area. 

Likewise, shooting your food photos indoors when the sun is shining brightly through the window, then you should use a semi-transparent white curtain to diffuse the light.

Arrange your Food Neatly

A good and healthy meal and scattered varieties of leaves on the table.

Arranging your food is more about the composition than about shooting. It’s very important to have an eye of an artist and analyze when the newly introduced external items act as an accessory. And when they act as noise in your food photography setting.

When you arrange your food neatly, you will have a clear idea of what goes towards the exposed area and what goes to the less exposed area. When you take a shot in an angular manner, you show a diagonal photo which gives a 3D kind of feel to the shot. 

Likewise, if you have a book, along with a coffee, alongside scattered fruit to complement the main item. People may lose focus from the primary item and the shot may look messy without proper negative space. Hence, it’s very important to arrange your food neatly. 

Decorate the Scene

A healthy meal decorated with detox water in the glass, flower in a vase, fork and many more.

When you are doing food photography, decoration also plays a vital role. First of all, you should be able to plan your Palette, use props, and settings to create a certain vibe.

Food along with a prop such as a book and a bookmark means you are reading a multi-paged novel. Likewise, a menu in a foreign language or a landmark in the background defines the area where the photograph was shot. Or the forks, straws and other props may bring up the necessary vibe for the shot as well. 

Not only the environment, but the food also may contain some decoration in itself. Fruit cut in different shapes, garnished with green leaf, textured with creams, and decorated with edible colors. In the case of the cake, these things add up to your shot and help generate great content. So, whenever you are doing food photography, you should always give emphasis to decorating the scene for a better result.

Create a Story

Healthy meal with lemon on the basket and hankie.

Every photograph has a story, and it goes for food photography as well. You can create a narrative with a photograph with lighting, props, angles, and even locations. These shots which have a combination of elements like lights and props will automatically tell you a story. 

By using the right props, you can create a special situation. Or you can add motion to your photos to tell your story as a food photography tip. I discovered that by adding “realness” to my photos, my food photography improved dramatically. It can be almost anything that makes sense to include in your photographs.

Keep it Simple

Japanese healthy food.

As per the greatest minds, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication” and the saying applies in all settings. The beauty within simplicity is as complex as it can get. People don’t need an outdoor setting with millions of props, celebrity chefs,s or rarest food items. You can be creative in an indoor setting. 

You can take a simple shot of food on a non-reflective background with a sole focus on food itself. A food photograph with good exposure, balanced light and shadow, and vibrantly garnished with its edibles. Also, define the pristine beauty of the food carried through history. 

Expose for the Highlights

green leaf and butter on the bread.
Basil leaves and avocado on sliced bread on a white ceramic plate

In general, exposing for the highlight entails underexposing the photograph. In either aperture or shutter priority mode, you can achieve this by simply decreasing the exposure value. You’ll have one dial to alter your primary setting and another to adjust the exposure value. It is depending on your camera type.

Sometimes a food subject may need a lightning boost or adjustment in contrast to the shadow it casts. Likewise, sometimes some food may reflect light hugely and act as noise between other subjects. Hence, you should always keep in mind the contract management and expose for the highlights.

Use Natural Lights

Coffe in natural light with a small cake and a book
A cup of coffee, sliced cake on a ceramic plate, and an opened book

A good photographer should always focus on using natural light. Because that makes a photograph look similar to what a viewer will see naturally. Though food photography at times requires replacements of natural colors and props, that’s when we are taking a dramatic shot.

 It is best to take pictures of your foods in natural light. It is simply the most appealing, attractive, and economical light for food photography. Do not use the flashlight of your phone or camera, it seems bland and unattractive.

However, you can always take control of the light if the natural light is very bright. But when you are shooting at night time, you will have no other option to click it under other sources. Such as fluorescent lights or flashlights, which will require good control of the shadow.

So, these are a few hacks that any food photographer can use to increase the beauty of food photography. So, if you are a beginner the article can be a great place to start your food photography journey, but if you are already doing it, there’s nothing wrong with re-visiting it right? However, if you are a food photographer then you can also upload your works on our columns at dhansar.com, and make a few bucks out of your skills.

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