As a blogger and food photographer I often get asked how to take great photos of food. After taking a look at my archives of “food shots” I realized there are a few secrets that I use to create stunning food images:
1. Shoot in low light
2. Be spontaneous and go for candid shots
3. Use a lens with lots of DOF (Depth of Field)
4. Shoot in black and white
5. Don’t worry about making it perfect—the image will be far more interesting for the viewer if it’s imperfect
6. Add props
7. Shoot in vertical format
8. Take multiple shots
I hope this guide will help you too!
Table of Contents
1. Shoot in low light.
When you shoot in low light the camera takes the picture while your shutter is open. This means that the camera is capturing the moment you’re shooting. When the light hits the subject it exposes the photo sensor for a fraction of a second which gives you that beautiful blur of light. If you want to create some of that magic try shooting food in a dark kitchen. A well lit countertop is not going to give you the same results.
2. Be spontaneous and go for candid shots.
Go for candids. They are far more fun for the client and will create a really unique and memorable experience. Candids are a natural way to photograph people. They are the most authentic shots and will capture the personality of your subjects. It’s also a great idea to take pictures of the people you’re working with. Your clients will enjoy seeing themselves as a group and will appreciate knowing the names of each person in the photo.
3. Use a lens with lots of DOF (Depth of Field).
This means that the camera will allow the background to be in focus and the subject to be blurred. Most of my clients will sit down at the table, place their food in front of them and just relax. It is during these moments that the depth of field is at its greatest and you need to have the ability to capture this. A prime lens will give you this ability. A 50mm will be a good starting point.
4. Shoot in black and white.
Black and white allows the viewer to interpret the scene as they wish. It has the ability to communicate emotion. For me, this is the perfect way to photograph food and it’s why I prefer this format for my blog.
5. Don’t worry about making it perfect—the image will be far more interesting for the viewer if it’s imperfect.
When I first started blogging and creating food images I used a Nikon D50. This was an entry level DSLR camera with no manual settings and it was pretty basic. But I didn’t worry about making the photos perfect. I had the camera on auto and it would take a photo every 5 seconds which meant there was always an image to work from.
6. Add props.
It doesn’t need to be a big deal. Just something small that adds a little extra character. A candle can help lighten the mood, a fresh flower or two can be a nice touch and a vase of fresh flowers can make a nice addition. A wine glass with a cork stopper can be a lovely and unexpected gift.
7. Shoot in vertical format.
Food photographed vertically can be really striking. It allows the viewer to get a 360 degree view of the food.
8. Take multiple shots.
It’s OK to take more than one shot. I often find myself taking a few different poses with the same food. Each of these images will provide a new and unique perspective of the subject.
Look for the action
You can photograph many types of food, but the action shots of food that are most successful are those where there is a ‘moment’ during the cooking process. These can range from preparing the ingredients, cooking or baking, serving, eating, and clearing the table.
Choose the right angle
I always aim to use a high aperture to freeze the action of the food. Aperture settings vary depending on your camera and lens, but I usually use a setting of f/2.8 to f/5.6.
Keep it simple
You should choose one focal length, preferably the widest possible to get the most creative composition.
Use natural light
Sunlight is the best lighting for action shots, and you will often get more flattering results with sunlight than using other types of lighting.
Be prepared for low light
If you are shooting in a dimly lit room, use the flash or fill flash to create more light. This is particularly useful for photographing raw food.
Use a tripod
If you are shooting food, it is essential to use a tripod. It will prevent your food from moving and help with image stabilization.
Create your own settings
Use your creativity to find unique ways of photographing food. Experiment with different techniques, angles and props.
I hope this article has helped you out. Do you have any tips that I haven’t covered? Please share your thoughts and let me know if you have tried any of these techniques and what your results were.