For today’s Thank Goodness it’s Foto Friday I’d like to go through how I approach photographing – food. Photographing food is an absolute delight for me. I love the challenge and I of course love eating it when I am done (…although this is not always the case, which we will get into).
Top 6 Tips for Photographing Food
1. Set the Tone
The first thing I do when photographing food is to decide what tone the client is going for. Is this an organic, healthy dish….Elegant, luxurious dinner…etc. This is an important starting point for me.
The photograph below was for Lundberg Family Farms. They needed a series of photographs for recipe cards that would be displayed at grocery stores. The dish featured is a mushroom and spinach pasta. I wanted to give a warm, rustic, home-cooked Italian meal look to the image. I then began to style the image to represent that feel by placing the food on an antique oak farm table, with rustic looking salt and pepper shakers and some roughly cut mushrooms on the side.
Some food may need some extra help to make it look appetizing and that’s when the use of odd elements come into play. Need your food to look fresh and glossy? Paint it with some oil. Cereal getting soggy and sinking down into the bowl? Use glue instead of milk (gross…but works). There are a lot of tricks professional food stylists use to make food look its absolute best. If you are really into food photography I would recommend reading tips from food stylists blogs or books.
Food can really change in appearance with the type of lighting used. Want to show lots of texture and detail – try side lighting. Looking for unique and modern – try back lighting. I often love to use natural light to photograph food, but in some circumstances there isn’t any available and it may not fit the look I am going for. The photograph below was taken with strobe lights only and gave the image a moody and elegant feel.
Keeping things simple is best when photographing food. Try to minimize distracting elements that take away from your image.
5. Color Harmony
I like to put a lot of thought into what color of background or props I choose to place in the image. Color can have a big impact on the tone of the photograph as well as making the food look more or less appetizing. In general I like to stick to a nice neutral color palette, but at times it is fun to step outside of the box. Maybe those cute vanilla cup cakes would really pop against a hot pink background…etc.
6. Must Have Gear
I highly recommend a macro lens. It will help you get those itty bitty details that give food its character. I love my Nikon 105mm macro f/2.8 and my 50mm f/1.4. A tripod can really be a lifesaver as well.