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Food Photography

Photographing food is harder than it seems. It’s easy to take a photo of food. It’s not easy to take a spectacular photo of everything you eat and cook. Food photography is a still life photography genre used to create attractive still life photographs of food. It is a specialization of commercial photography, the products of which are used in advertisements, magazines, packaging, menus or cookbooks.

Food photography may not be as popular as landscape photography or portraiture, but it’s a genre which holds many advantages over others. We all buy, prepare and consume food, so we don’t need to go to too much extra trouble in sourcing our subjects. It’s something that can be done in the convenience of our own homes (regardless of the weather), and by working with the seasons you have a continuously changing variety of subjects to work with.

The mania surrounding food photography is a pretty recent phenomenon. In the last decade, what used to be a niche in photography took social media by storm and ever since has been one of the favorite topics for a huge amount of accounts. Professional food photography is a collaborative effort, usually involving an art director, a photographer, a food stylist, a prop stylist, and their respective assistants.

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 favorite 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.

The simplicity of the setup is not to be taken for granted, as one cannot become a great food photographer without an extensive understanding of light, color palettes, and styling trends. A beautifully executed food image will make the viewer’s mouth water and their stomach rumble! How many times have you heard: “You eat with your eyes first”? Food contains all of the elements of design that can make a striking image. Color, texture, pattern, line, shape, and form are all there, yet the key ingredient is to capture the image in a way that makes the viewer want, no, need to eat what they are seeing. So elevate food photography as an art form.

Author avatar
Syed Abu Rayhen
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