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Taking Pictures of Food

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

We are all snapping away pictures of food… it may well be that loaf of bread you baked, that beautifully risen sponge, Yorkshire puddings or salad that you are proud of. We are all guilty of not eating our food at restaurants and on that ‘night out’ until we have captured that masterpiece on a plate! Instagram has become popular beyond belief, the young and old, we all love taking pictures and food is one of the most photographed subjects of all…

As a blogger and ‘foodie’ I have learnt a lot over the years and actually had a session just recently on ‘food photography’ which was so interesting.  Its all about the story as well as the food…

Last week I was lucky enough to catch Pink Lady (apples) ‘Food Photographer of the year’ at the Mall Galleries in London. Details here. Firstly I was really impressed with the gallery and secondly the exhibition was excellent with some very interesting categories and in some cases unusual winners. There were over 8,000 entries from around the world and I enjoyed the children or young photographer category. A few photos shown here:

Left: Runner Beans Right: Aubergines

Peas bubbling

One of my personal favourites from the exhibition. ‘Five Ways with Tomatoes’ An inspirational photograph that portrays the true beauty and structure of the simple tomato in all its different varieties, forms and colours.

Praying with Food – Breaking the fast in congregation. A section of the Hindu community is preparing to break the day-long fast in one of the local temples at Swamibag, Dhaka, Bangladesh. They believe their fasting will redeem their sins.

The Food for Celebration – category was sponsored by Champagne Taittinger. ‘We wanted to see images of festive, celebratory food from across the world.  Whether it be Christmas, Divali or Chanukah, Easter, birthdays or weddings.  Tables groaning with food, people eating, preparing or event serving special festive foods.

Expert Tips for taking great food photos

It’s all about the light! My best tip for beginners is to become aware of the intensity of the light and how it hits the food, and learn to adjust accordingly. Here are some tips for getting started.

  •   Take photos under natural light. Do not use overhead lights or lamps or your built-in flash. Ever!

  •   Move around to find the best light source.Don’t feel confined to taking photos in your kitchen. Perhaps the light is best in your bedroom in the morning, and in your living room in the afternoon.

  •   Try taking photos from multiple angles. Some plates of food look better from above (like, pizza), or from the side (burgers), or at a 45-degree angle (drinks). Try moving around the plate and taking photos at various angles so you can pick your favourite later.

  •   Minimize clutter.If that spoon, napkin or busy background doesn’t add to the photo, it detracts from the photo. Focus on what is most important, but don’t zoom in so close that viewers can’t tell what the food is.

Troubleshooting common food photography issues

Frustrated by how your food photos are turning out? Read on for potential solutions.

  •   Your photos are blurry. Blurry photos are caused by camera shake. Solutions include: 1) hold your camera steadier (easier said than done), 2) use a tripod with a remote so your camera stays completely still while you’re shooting, 3) use a faster shutter speed, which will require opening up your aperture and/or moving to an area with more light, or 4) raise your ISO to decrease the amount of light needed (this will reduce image quality, however).

  •   Your colours aren’t true to life. When you’re editing your photos, if your plate of food looks very blue, yellow, pink or green, use your software’s white balance tools to fix it! Colours come alive when the white balance is set properly. If you shoot in RAW format, you’ll have an easier time adjusting colour balance later.

  •   Your photos just don’t“pop”like professional food photos. Experienced food photographers use lenses that allow them to narrow their depth of field to highlight the subject of the photo. Then they use photography software to tweak the contrast, levels and sharpness of their photos. Sometimes a few little edits can really make a photo pop.

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