Nowadays, almost everybody takes a picture of their food at a restaurant or when they try out a recipe at home. Ideally, photos are meant to evoke the interest of the viewer and increase curiosity. Many foodies frequently share photos of their meal on social media, but they don’t always inspire. All one needs to know are a few techniques to get that perfect, delicious shot!
Food photography requires, like all ‘still life’ photos, proper composition and lighting which enhance the image. Everyone— from the home cook to the experienced food writer—can take great photographs once they master the art of food styling even if they only use smartphone cameras.
Five Easy Steps of Food Styling
Composition. One useful tool to keep in mind is the rule of thirds. This is a nine-part grid that you need to imagine over your photo or subject. Your main subject should be either along the lines or at the intersections of your grid. Make sure that everything looks beautiful and well-rounded.
Angle. Today, people may be familiar with flat lay (bird-view) angle in food photograph. Angle is one of crucial element for food photography in order to show its texture and the look of the whole plate. If the texture and food look colourful from above, such as in pizza platters, you may take it in flat-lay (where the platter is on a flat surface). If you want to emphasise the melting part of molten lava cake, for example, it’s a good idea to take the photo from the side. And don’t take the photo too closely in order to show the whole element of the dish.
Light. Natural light is the king of food photography if you do not have proper studio lighting. For amateurs, placing the food close to the window will provide enough lighting with natural shade. Taking a photo with natural light between noon to late afternoon will create great images. Don’t shoot when during dawn and dusk when the light is faint.
Props and background. Props and background must be planned ahead. Props could help tell the story of the food. You could add dry chili or other spices when you take photos of rendang. You also could use a solid colour in the background that emphasises the food, or a wooden table to give it an earthy look and feel. Garnish your food and use accessories which do no reflect light. If the food is busy, make sure your props aren’t.
Interaction. Have you heard of “handsinframe”? That’s one way of involve yourself with food by putting a human side to the photos. This could be slicing a cake, holding a bowl or using chopsticks.
Natural is Best
Food has its own nature and colour. Adding too many filters could possibly ruin the original effect. Keeping the natural color of the food may be the best choice. If you must edit the shot, play with the saturation, contrast and brightness to make lively graphic photographs. Editing helps if the photograph is over or under exposed. Food has to be real and it’s the best way to elevate its rawness.
Bring a Story
After finishing up the visual effort, it’s always a good idea to include a brief narrative to tell the story of the food. The narrative or caption helps viewers understand your photograph on social media channels such as Pinterest or Instagram. The narrative could emphasise the uniqueness of the food, the nutrition, or just be a simple explanation about the recipe and ingredients.