Advice: Food Photography
I get a lot of questions about food photography and how I learnt to take all the photos on my blog so I thought this would be a great topic for todays post!
When I first started writing the blog I was absolutely terrible at taking photos. I really wish that I had my first photos to illustrate this, but sadly that laptop had an accident with some coconut water and all those photos were lost! At that time I took all my photos in my student kitchen in such yellow light and the food looked pretty inedible, so I started working on my photography skills and learnt a lot along the way. The points below are the rules that I stick to when I’m photographing everything you see on the blog.
For me using natural light is the most important thing when it comes to photography! I find the brighter, lighter and cleaner a food photo looks the more the food stands out. Plus there’s nothing worse than saturated, yellow reflecting of your food. I always turn the lights off, take the photo in the middle of the day and try to be as close to a window as possible – it makes all the difference.
Bowls Not Plates
I find that taking a photo on a big, white plate can mean the food gets a bit lost and doesn’t look as abundant and delicious. I mainly use shallow bowls, like pasta bowls, to photograph my dishes in as it brings the dish together better I find. It means you don’t have any glaring white edges of plates and you can get lots of bowls into one shot without having big gaps between them, which again makes it all look more appetizing.
Focus on Neutral Background Colours
I like using simple surfaces and crockery so that the food jumps out of the photo and the bits around the food don’t detract from what you’re trying to get your audience excited about. I find that textured wooden or off white surfaces photograph the best and then white or cream bowls for food. It’s nice to add a pop of colour using a little bowls, spoons, flowers etc on the side but make sure that the recipe stays as the focus of the photo. It’s so easy to get carried away by awesome props but I think the more neutral they are the better!
I love adding texture to the top of my food, I find it makes it photograph so much better. You don’t need to do anything fancy, just sprinkle some chili flakes, chopped coriander, a drizzling of dressing etc onto the surface to make it come alive and jump off the page! It also means that you’ll add an extra pop of colour to the dish, which is always great.
Use Bright Food
I find the brighter, more vibrant the food is the more popular it is. So I try to add lots of colour to every meal, for example I’ll stir in a little spinach to a stew or curry to break up the brown or add a handful of berries to my almond butter porridge. This way the food looks extra appetizing and hopefully that will mean people get more excited about your recipe!
Invest in a Good Camera and Light Room/Photoshop Elements
I have to say that it is worth buying a nice camera, you don’t need anything crazy expensive or complicated but a standard SLR does really help! I use a Canon 650D, which I’ve had for the last few years and love. It’s now covered in food, which means that it’s permanently sticky and doesn’t work quite as well but I still love it! A photographer friend of mine also introduced me to Light Room and Photoshop elements, which are both amazing tools. They’re both pretty inexpensive (Photoshop elements isn’t the same as classic Photoshop, which is very expensive) and I just use them to lighten photos and make small adjustments. I’ve found that just two minutes brightening a photo, changing the contrast slightly and a few other bits and pieces can make a huge difference to the final product. There are loads of YouTube tutorials showing you how to use both tools, which may help when you’re getting started.
My final piece of advice is not to rush your photos. Give yourself good time to make sure that you have what you want. There’s nothing worse than spending ages creating a recipe, making it look beautiful and then when you look through the photos you realize they’re all rubbish! So I always upload the photos to my computer and look through them before eating or serving the dish to make sure it’s exactly what I want, otherwise I’ll keep going with it – just make sure that you give yourself time to do this. Plus not being stressed by time pressure as you photograph always makes it an easier, more enjoyable process!