Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ten Tips for Photographing Food

I get a twice-weekly e-mail newsletter called Photojojo, which always has interesting tips and techniques for photography. Since I am an amateur photographer, I find a lot of things I can use. Today's selection was especially interesting, since it was 10 Tips for Food Photography. Here are the TEN TIPS:
  1. Choose a setting that enhances, but doesn’t distract from your food. Pick a simple, plain background or tablecoth. Use plates whose color contrasts with or harmonizes with your food, but not ones that are the same color. Before you start shooting, make sure there isn’t any distracting clutter in the background of the shot (stray people, silverware, whatever). Using a wider aperture to blur the background will help.
  2. Use natural light whenever you can. The ideal set-up is a next to a large window, with a white curtain to diffuse the light. If you can’t get natural light, don’t be tempted to use your flash. Flash photography is too harsh for food’s delicate sensibilities. It flattens everything out and makes for unappealing shiny spots.
  3. Learn to color balance. Especially in situations where natural light is unavailable, your photos can have a yellow or blue cast that makes food look terrible. Use the white balance setting on your camera, or adjust the color digitally later on.
  4. Hold still. In low-light situations like restaurants and kitchens, long exposures will register any camera movement as blur. Use a tripod whenever possible. If you don’t have one, try resting your camera on a water glass or the back of a chair. This is one of my favourite tricks.
  5. Take lots of pictures. Move around the food and see what angle looks best: down low to see the food head-on? Up high to take in the geometry of the presentation?
  6. Get in as close as you can. Use the macro setting on your camera if it has one. Fill the frame with the food, so the viewer can almost taste it.
  7. Work quickly. The faster you take pictures of the food, the fresher it will look. Cold, congealed meat and wilted salads just don’t look good. Use an empty plate to help you set up your shot before the food is ready. At the last minute, slip in the real plate of food.
  8. The devil is in the details. Check the edges of your plates and glasses for stray food, and wipe away any smudges. Use sauces and garnishes to add color to drab shots (i.e. adding a lemon wedge to iced tea).
  9. Don’t forget to take pictures of the process. Sometimes making the food (chopping, cooking) can be as interesting as the final product.
  10. Know what not to shoot. Some things will just never look delicious, no matter how hard you try. Meals that are all the same color and brown sauces are best left alone.

I will try and make sure I follow these rules. To learn more about PhotoShopping photographs, watch this.


Julie said...

Great tips. There are also good ones here at 101 Cookbooks.

John said...

I need to keep these in mind. I take too many photos of my food, and I always seem to turn out so much crap. I'll look these over some more. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Cool tips. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

First time to your Pigout site...I must say, I need to visit more often!

I subscribe to Photojojo too...and love it. These were great tips.

Meghan said...

great tips!!!