Photography

6 comments

I have had a lot of people ask me about food photography. I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about just that… FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY. This is very much an art in itself. I consider myself very much an amateur at this but I really enjoy it.

I have spoken to numerous photographers getting tips as well as reading manuals and articles on how to take amazing food photography.

For all the people out there like myself, I have put together a list of top tips on what I do to try and take great pictures. I hope these help you the next time you flip open the lens and take a shot of your meal.

Food Photography Tips

  1. Stabilize your camera. Use a tripod, or prop your camera on a high-back chair to help reduce the photo’s blurriness. This will eliminate the camera shake, you can also use a timer on the camera to be sure.
  2. Try to cut foods in somewhat geometric shapes for a more professional presentation. I also like to use the stacking technique depending on the dish.
  3. Arrange items on plate in a manner that showcases the strengths of a dish and its high-value ingredients. I get this from obsessively watching the food network.
  4. Garnish the dish to enhance the color. Adding chopped parsley or chives gives spaghetti green specks that bring out the red color of the sauce. Adding a lemon wedge to a piece of fish kicks it up and gives it some zest. Or, consider ladling a sauce on the plate underneath the food, or over the items on the plate.
  5. Place your dish in a setting which will enhance the dish’s overall appearance. Place the dish on a flat-colored background, such as a uni-colored table cloth or table surface. I myself like to use a white background and a white table cloth and normally my white square plate. If taking a picture from a side-angle, make sure the picture’s background will not distort the food in the foreground.
  6. Use as much natural light as possible. A camera flash will actually distort food pictures more often than it will enhance them. Try moving your dish into a well-lit area and have a portable lamp close at hand to prop above the dish. Old school zesty has a five bulb light overhead shining 300 watts of crisp light. My photographer friend said that food can never really have too much lighting just be careful of shadows.
  7. Carefully choose the best angle for taking the picture. Examine the shape and features of your dish, to determine whether it looks best from overhead or from a side angle. Often, taking straight on shots of a dish doesn’t highlight the dish’s more appealing features.
  8. Zoom in so the dish fills as much of the picture as possible. Because I am an amateur I also like to use he macro setting for close ups as opposed to the manual focus.
  9. Work Quickly: food only looks really appealing for a short period of time. Ice cream melts. Veggies droop. Lettuce wilts. So you need to work fast. Even with the best-case scenario, you won’t have more than 10-15 minutes from the moment the food exits the pan or fridge to get your shot. Being well prepared really helps, and having a helper there to plate and dress is invaluable. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles, settings, and garnishes nonetheless.
  10. Remember: practice makes perfect.

Here are some food sites that focus on amazing food pictures:

  1. Food Gawker
  2. Taste Spotting
  3. Photo Grazing

I hope everyone found these tips useful and will try some of them out in the future. I would like to ask everyone, what is their best technique they found when taking pictures. Share your techniques and we can add to the list.

Keep smiling and have a great Wednesday!

zesty

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sam

I like your website- great recipes, stories, and ideas. One thing that really bother me is that it appears that some of the pictures you include for the recipes do not appear to have been taken by you; or, at least, the pictures are not consistent with the recipes given.

Examples:
-Honet Nut brussel Sprouts- you indicate that they should be left whole, but the final picture shows them halved.
-Rosemary Lime Shrimp- you indicate that tail-off, deveined shrimp should be used, but the final picture shows shrimp with a tail.
-Potato Crusted Halibut- shows a picture of thinly slicing brussell sprouts even though that is not listed in the recipe at all.

Despite this minor annoyance, I believe your website will be one that I will continue to visit to get new recipe ideas. Thank you for your posts!

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2 Amanda

I love your website. I’m a caterer and need to learn more about taking photos of food and this website offered TONS of information and photos. I love all the connecting links with great pics too. Keep it up!!

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3 zesty

Thanks Amanda!

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4 mairi

Oops, didn’t see this page when I asked you the question about photography. These are great tips. I’m planning on doing a travel/food blog soon so I will want to get some nice pictures!

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5 zesty

Thanks Mairi – I was on your blog last night! I love it. I think you guest post on zestycook with your cool cupcakes!

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6 Laura Dembowski

I just recently started using a tripod on the advice of a professional photographer and have been shocked at the difference it makes. It’s nice to hear that you sometimes use artificial light. I try to use natural light as much as possible, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

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