A photo of just food on a plate is not interesting to anyone. If you want to collect likes, shoot like professional food photographers. It is about their tricks and tricks that you will now learn.
1. Almost everything depends on lighting.
The main mistake of a beginner is to underestimate the role of lighting. For food shots, natural daylight is the best option. Therefore, it is better to photograph dishes at the window, in the morning or midday hours, as lighting may not be enough in the evening.
- If it is cloudy outside, just move the dish to the window and take a picture. This is the perfect light.
- If it’s sunny outside and the light is too bright, close your blinds or curtains to soften the light.
- If you shoot outdoors, do it in the shade.
You can use various tricks to make food photography more expressive. For example, try shooting drinks against the sun. The so-called backlight will create a deep shadow in front of the object, but highlight the color of the cocktail.
But light sources behind your back should be avoided: with your shadow you will close the dish, the background will turn out dark, and the foreground will be overexposed. The image will look flat, the dish will look unappetizing. By changing the position, you will shoot this composition much more profitably.
2. Choose the right angle
Remember: first we determine the angle, then we work with the composition. Successful placement of subjects in the frame depends on how you shoot — from above, at an angle or from the side. Think about how best to present the main dish, given its shape, size and other features. After that, arrange the rest of the elements. Here are the three basic views:
- side. This angle is appropriate when you need to show the height of a dish or toppings: burgers, desserts, pancake towers, layered cocktails, cakes.
- Above. Ideal for dishes such as pizza, scrambled eggs, salad, smoothie bowl.
- At an angle. An option for when you need to reflect the volume or want to capture the height of the dish, but also show it from above — for example, this is how tall pastries with berry decor are removed.
Just consider where you will post the photo. If you plan to upload it to your Instagram feed and stories, take two shots (vertical and square) or just keep in mind that you will need to crop or reduce the picture. This non-obvious nuance can affect the optimal angle.
3. The rules of composition apply to food photography as well.
Before taking a picture, conditionally divide the frame into 9 equal parts with two vertical and two horizontal lines. If it’s hard to do this mentally, turn on the display of the corresponding grid in the camera settings. The object must be placed in the frame so that it is along the lines or at the intersection — these are the so-called visual points.
There is also the rule of diagonals, according to which the main objects in the photo should be placed, you guessed it, diagonally. A simple technique helps to streamline everything by adding dynamics. You can implement this in different ways: arrange the cutlery at an angle or arrange the plates in a row diagonally.
Symmetry is another elementary but powerful technique when framing a shot. Creating a symmetrical composition is useful when shooting the same foods, dishes or drinks.
4. The background can ruin everything and vice versa
The right background will make the food photo more coherent. If you are shooting a complex dish, use the most concise background, for example, a plain one. When photographing some simple food, you can beat everything with an interesting tablecloth or napkin.
When shooting food at home, it is quite possible to do without special backgrounds. There are simple and public, but no less beautiful analogues: trays, countertops, tablecloths. A wooden board is generally a win-win and versatile option. No one bothers you even to arrange food on the floor if a suitable porcelain tile or laminate is laid on it. Experiment and find the key to success.
5. Learn to use color and contrast
Are you sure that the contrast in the photo is the key to success, as all photographers talk about it? We will prove you otherwise. Try photographing a green salad. Avocado, cucumber, white cabbage, green pepper and basil, cilantro, broccoli — they all differ in shades, but together they will merge into one green frame. In a motley social media feed, he will definitely stand out.
But the contrast is also good. Red and green, yellow and purple, black and white — there are a lot of options. For example, a salad of red tomatoes with green basil leaves will look just perfect if you take a picture in the right composition and with well-exposed lighting.
Cook it yourself — decorate the dish with something bright to make it inexpressive. Even non-photogenic oatmeal will be transformed by putting a few berries on top or a drop of blueberry jam.
6. Additional ingredients will dilute the frame
Fresh berries and fruits, honey and nuts, herbs and spices, flax or pumpkin seeds, all kinds of sauces and even just sliced bread — all this decorates and complements the simplest dishes. In some cases, a close-up will be more beneficial, allowing you to see the texture or color. In others, the far one is better — with a lot of details that distract the eye and create a pleasant impression of what you see.
Also, do not be afraid to spill or spill something. Cleanliness in the frame is good, but there are exceptions. Sometimes scattered flour, spices or even crumbs will look very appropriate. The main thing is not to overdo it so that the picture does not turn out sloppy. Here the rule applies: less is better than more.
7. Use a tripod whenever possible
Of course, you are unlikely to photograph the dessert ordered in a cafe from a tripod. If you shoot at home or you are faced with the task of making the highest quality frame on order, then this is another story. With a tripod, the phone will be in a fixed position. Thanks to this, you will be able to get sharp shots even in poor lighting conditions. By preventing camera shake, a tripod makes it possible to set slower shutter speeds.
Also, a tripod is indispensable when you need to take a series of photos of different dishes or drinks from a certain angle. Set the height and angle of inclination, and change the subject itself.
8. Focus creates interesting effects
To make your food photos not only beautiful, but also artistically expressive, try experimenting with focus. For example, highlight the subject in the foreground or focus on the background. This technique is appropriate when the frame contains not only the main dish, but also objects that complement the exposure and create the right mood.
For best results, switch your smartphone camera to manual zoom mode. By touching your finger on the touch screen to the desired areas of the image, you can place accents. In automatic mode, the camera will choose for itself which area in the frame should be the sharpest, and this may not correspond to your idea.
9. Props you can’t do without
Expressive food photography is hard to imagine without props. It can be all kinds of dishes, cutlery, napkins, cutting boards, glasses, gravy boats, trays, and so on.
The main thing is that the props match the style of shooting. When photographing freshly baked bread, using transparent glassware is not a good idea. But some canvas towel or linen fabric is perfect for this. Remember that the props should not draw attention away from the main object — your dish.
10. Processing will make the picture even more appetizing
No matter how good your smartphone is, no matter how hard you try when shooting, post-processing will make the frame even more aesthetic, and the dish on it will be as appetizing as possible. To begin with, it does not hurt to crop unnecessary fields, lighten or darken the photo a little, remove extra crumbs or spots. There are popular mobile apps for all this: Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop Express, and Snapseed. The functions of this software abound for high-quality correction.
Bonus tips for everyone
Universal tip: make it a rule to wipe the lens before shooting, as even imperceptible fingerprints can spoil the photo, and you will not fix it in any way.
Also try to shoot the same dish from several angles, adding and removing different details. Play with lighting and choose the best shots. Often, random shots look much better than staged ones. In other words, do not be afraid to experiment — it is always useful! And don’t be afraid to borrow other people’s ideas: look at the top food photos on Instagram or Pinterest, analyze, highlight your favorite moments and repeat various shooting techniques. In addition, you can enroll in some food photography course, from which you will learn the basics of this type of photography and draw original solutions.