Food Photography: Tips & Tricks

Food photography. You either love it, or you dread it.

I for one enjoy all types of photography and dabble in each genre. Nature, portraiture, landscape, abstract…and food. After all, you get to eat what you create right? 😉 Sounds good to me.

In my experience, food photography is a little more finicky than other types of photography. That is, if you don’t have super expensive equipment and lots of time on your hands. The majority of the recipes I make I photograph right after I make them. Then…I eat them! I can not wait hours to eat my nice cream!

Food photography isn’t exactly as simple as taking a photo of your food. It can be, but added composition can truly transform the overall aesthetics of your photograph.

Here are some of my tips and tricks that I have picked up along the way when it comes to photographing food.

I will start out by saying the camera I have is the Canon EOS SL1 and I switch between either a 18-55mm f/3.5 (kit lens) or a 40mm f/2.8 lens.

1. Lighting is everything!

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This is a big one. When photographing food artificial light and flash are big no-no’s. The sun is your best friend! I take the majority of my photos right in front of a large window I have in my kitchen dining area. Wherever the brightest area in your house is, that’s where you want to be taking your photos. Hey even go outside! IMG_1850I took this photo right on deck in my backyard. You can see how much more even the lighting is compared to this photo that was taken inside in low-light conditions:IMG_2981

Even light is key. You can see in the first photo that there are no shadows, the exposure/contrast balance is just right and no parts of the photo are being shied away. The second photo is dark and shadow-y and makes the food look less appealing. This photo was taken just metres away from the window where I usually shoot.

 

 

Studio lights are an option if you are shooting on a cloudy day, at night, or in a room with minimal light, but are expensive and in my opinion not worth it, especially if you are just casually blogging or taking photos for Instagram. Budget your time wisely and pick a time when the sun is at its peak and take your photos then. They will come out more natural and even, guaranteed.

2. Backgrounds

Considering what you are going to be placing your food on or in front of can make or break a picture. You don’t want your background to detract from your focal point (aka the food). I usually buy bristle board in colours like white, black and soft pastels and use those as they are not too busy and then allow me to accent with other objects.

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Here I used just plain white bristle board. The truffles contrast nicely and since the background was so plain I was able to add some flowers to spice it up slightly yet still keeping a minimal look.

If you want an industrial look or are seeking texture I love using pieces of burlap, linen cloth and even worn out cookie sheets like I did here:

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I love how this cookie sheet gave a ‘rough’ look to these scrumptious raw caramel slices. It complements rather than detracts from the food.

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This was taken with a black bristle board background and you can really see how well it contrasts with the white in the coconut. This particular shot was not edited at all!

3. Get Messy!

Your mama may have told you not to play with food. Well I now grant you permission to get messy! Have fun with it. Overflow your smoothie or simply accent with raw ingredients.

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Break your food apart, take a bite out of it… 😉 IMG_3098

photo 3The classic maple syrup pour. (taken with an iPhone!)

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4. Depth of Field

By definition, depth of field is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image. You really don’t need a DSLR to take great photos. I take photos on my phone frequently, especially when i’m in a time crunch. However, the quality is not as sharp and you do not have a large focal range. When photographing food, having a blurred background or what we call a ‘shallow’ DOF can really make your photos pop! And that is a feature your phone can just not give you.

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I have a 40mm f/2.8 for my canon EOS SL1. It’s a very handy little lens, but a 50mm f/1.8 is even better and can be bought for just under a $100!

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5. Patterns, Dishes, Flowers etc.

It’s always good to have a critical eye. Being aware of whether or not you should let the food be the star of the show or to have something else to accompany it is a developed skill, that even I have yet to master! For starters, basic white or neutral toned dishes are a must.

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I think we can agree that if this dish was purple or red…it would not do this glorious smoothie bowl justice. Since I photograph both really colourful fruits and veggies and then some more neutral baked goods it always nice to have an array of both plain and fun dishes and silverware. I personally love the simplicity of this photo, but one might want to add some more brown to break the white, or a banana peel, some chocolate crushed up etc.

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In this photo here, if I were to use a white bowl or even just a plain coloured bowl, I think that the photo would be completely boring. There is colour to liven up the otherwise dark ice cream and pattern to gee the photo more dimension, yet, you are still drooling over the food…am I right? 😉

These next photos were taken on my iPhone:

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Taken in the exact same place, exact same burlap background, but the light creates a different mood to each photo. Flowers, leaves, books, doilies, napkins…while I wouldn’t maybe use the books in ‘professional’ photography, they still make for cute Instagram photos and add some life to the photos and show that I am in fact, a real person!

With that being said, sometimes simplicity is best especially when photographing for instance, just a fruit:

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Those are all of the tips I can conjure up for now! If all else fails, you really can’t go wrong with light. Make sure you have an abundance of it and everything should work out just fine. Take lots and lots of photos, no one gets a perfect picture on the first try. Play around with your camera settings, different backgrounds, lenses, and grow from there. It’s a trial and error process, you can only improve!

If you have any questions leave a comment below!

Have a fruitful day,

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