Here are some easy tips to help you when taking food photos, to get those great, vibrant, “jump out of the screen and eat me” pictures.
Photography is all about light - cameras are similar to the human eye, in that they can see well in bright light but struggle when it’s dark. Sure, humans and cameras can see in dim light, but colours suffer - that red strawberry in daylight is now a muted colour of red.
- Eat dinner at lunch time.
Ok, so I don’t necessarily mean this literally. Lighting is generally poor in the evenings, though, so to get great photos, try to take all of your photos at lunchtime. Have a look at all of your favourite bloggers and instagram accounts; they either have controlled lighting or they take their photos in daylight.
- Sit by the window!
Daylight is the best kind of light. Why? Because it is mostly non-directional, which means there will be fewer shadows. If the restaurant has windows, sit as close to the windows as possible. It might not be the nicest part of the restaurant, but it will really help get those great photos. There is one caveat to this; avoid direct, strong sunlight, as it will cast huge shadows.
- Avoid direct sources of light
As well as avoiding direct sunlight, avoid bright spotlights; again, this is all in order to avoid those big shadows that ruin photos.
Framing the shot
This is where your style comes in - there are a few standard shots, but you can be as creative as you want!
- Top Down
This is probably the easiest shot. Take a photo from directly above the food, making sure that you have it square-on and make sure that the table arrangement is neat and tidy.
- Side on
There are a few variations of this shot; the main benefit of this type of picture is that this is the angle from which people are generally accustomed to seeing food, so it often looks the most realistic and appetising. You can also get a shallow depth of field effect (the elusive, artsy blur!) to the photo more easily.
Some food looks so great at a detailed level that a very close shot of it will look fantastic - think of those juicy, dripping, oozing burgers.
- Action shots
These always bring photos to life, but are often harder to execute… from holding a burger, to cutting a piece of steak, or stretching melting cheese (yum!).
You might think that your camera will make a huge difference. Actually, your choice of camera doesn't have as much of an effect as one would think. Some people use an iPhone to great result, and others use huge, expensive SLR cameras.
I recommend that you follow the steps above until you determine your own personal "style". Once you have found it, the limitations of any camera you're using will naturally become apparent - if you’re going to, invest in one then!
As with most things in life, this is the most important tip - practice makes perfect. Experiment, learn and try again. And again.