Article by: Deina Ida Blancaflor (@disblancaflor)
Food photography is an often overlooked field. People make the mistake of thinking it’s “just taking pretty photos of your food”. In the age of curated Instagram feeds and hourly Facebook posts, you’d think anyone can actually shoot good food. Believe it or not, though, it’s not as simple as that. In fact, food photography can be one of the most technical fields you can venture in.
If you’re just starting to explore and learn about taking photos, it’s actually a great entry point because of the discipline, patience, and technical skills it demands of you.
At its very core, your main objective when taking photos of food is to make people hungry. You have to really sell the product. With each shot that you take, take a step back, assess the situation, and ask yourself, “Would this shot make my mouth water?” Developing that skill and that eye for detail is a craft you slowly master as time goes by, but here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.
12 Tips to Jumpstart Your Food Photography Career
12. Prepare ahead.
Much like reviewing for your exams the coming day, you also must come prepared to a shoot. Take the time to go over the menu, know what you’re shooting, and generally understand the food items. This will give you an idea on how you’re going to shoot them. If the shoot’s in a restaurant, you may also want to do your research about the place first to get an idea about the lighting. Speaking of lighting–
11. Try to find some natural light.
Despite the overwhelming advances in technology, natural light is still the best light source for any photograph. Nothing beats the warmth that sunlight exudes and how it carefully caresses and highlights a picture. Given this, your ideal shoots should be held between 7am to 5pm.
Did you know that all of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks were shot with natural light?
10. Adjust to your mood light, not the other way around.
When it comes to lighting (especially with mood/artificial lights), there really is no definite formula to get that perfect shot. It’s always a matter of trial-and-error. One thing to keep in mind, though, is to always always adjust to the light, not the other way around. Understanding the lighting and employing all of your other knowledge about angles and shadows, and ultimately, playing around with everything will help you get the shot you are aiming for.
ADDITIONAL TIP: Know what you want to highlight! Highlights make your photos more appetizing; they emphasize what you want focus on in the photo. Without it, you’ll end up with a really flat picture.
9. Embrace the shadows.
You don’t always have to have a perfectly lit photograph. Through the years, photographers have slowly embraced this kind of style even more. Shadows add depth and drama to photos, giving more room to practice your creativity.
8. Know your angles.
The two most common angles are the 45 degree angle and the flatlay/topshot. The 45 is considered to be the safest angle; you see it everywhere! And who can forget about the crowd-favorite flatlay? However, you can always explore more angles when it comes to shooting. As long as you know what you want to focus on, you’re good to go.
7. Style with the camera.
What you see with your eyes will never be the same with what the camera sees. Given that, you have to style with the camera — you prop up your camera, lock it, and then style your food through the lenses. This will save you a huge amount of time and effort because you get to be more accurate with your movements. You see your shot right in front of you versus framing it all in your head first.
Read on for more tips!