Food Photography Tips

By Christina Arutyunova | 07 July, 2016

հայերեն տարբերակ

Recently Braind went deeper and deeper into the fffoooooddd... and photography and started a few projects containing professional food photography. We are newcomers in this sphere but passionate ones. And all the photos presented in this blog post were done during different photo shooting projects by our photographer Christina Harutyunova and Braind team. Below she presents useful tips that you can practice and enjoy in food photography.

Nowadays food photography is playing an important role in different types of business. Only several years ago it was limited and used among food industry (restaurants, markets, shops) and publications related to food sphere (cookbooks, magazines). Now food photography is widely popular in different advertising campaigns. The key is that the food is associated with comfort and happiness. And such big companies like American Express and CNN are hunting for food photographers.

Let’s look at the main points that will help you to try and get a nice shot at home using available instruments. All you need is to learn through the basics and understand how to use them.

To get the nice picture you will need:

  1. Technical skills

  2. Nice look of a dish

  3. Right and attractive composition

Lighting

The most important thing in food photography as well as in photography in general is lighting. There are two kinds of light: artificial and natural. Imagine that we are using only natural one (daylight coming from windows). It is easy to work with natural light unless you are shooting the series of products, which means that the natural light will limit your time process.

The light in a shot may fall at the side of an object, from the back of it or frontally.

In food photography the backlight is as good as for portraits, which means we put the dish between the window and the camera so that the light comes from behind the object.

Frontal light is not recommended because it leaves a bright spot on foreground part that leads to the strong overexposure. It's best to use the side light, and there is almost no difference between using left or right source, unless there is no obligatory requirement of composition.

There are direct and diffused light:

Direct light is straight on and harsh. It can be seen only on particular side with a single light source. Direct light is the absence of light on any other side except the side with a single light source. Diffused light comes from all sides. It is like you will put a sheet of paper between the window and photographed object. The light will hit your object on all sides. The difference with diffused light is that it is more evenly balanced. So if you are taking picture near the window just hang the light thin fabric on the window.

Reflector

Another important attribute which you will need is the reflector. You need it to avoid the high contrast and make the picture look soft and attractive. Or you can use it to direct the light on the part to illuminate certain elements.

Shooting angles

The angle of photo shooting is another skill to master. There are four most common angles used: 0 degree (straight on), 90 degree (the overhead shot), 45 degree angle (the most common) and 15 degrees.

0 degree (head on shot) - common angle for shooting cupcakes, burgers, sandwiches when you want to show what's in them.

90 degree (the overhead angle) - with this angle it is easier to make composition.

45 degree angle (the most common) – this angle allows to show front, top, and sides of the dish.

15 degrees – lower the camera to show the horizon line in the back of the shot and background.

Note that the angle also depends on the plate you use. If there are bowls in the composition you should have to raise the camera angle higher to see into it.

Which angle to choose?

There is no general rule. As people ask you to shoot from the specific side as they consider it better, every dish in its turn has the most flattering angle to be shot. Usually it is the one where the details of the dish are mostly concentrated.

While taking pictures with a phone, better to use an overhead angle which will minimize technical flaws, as far as the phone camera doesn’t give the best quality.

Aperture

This article is trying to skip the technical part of the camera, but there is one point that is crucial to know. We are talking about aperture. What does the aperture mean, especially in food photography?

Aperture is the size of the opening in your lens when you’re taking a photo. Think of it as how wide open your eye is when looking at something. Increasing aperture means lowering the number of f/stop on the camera, while decreasing means enlarging the number of f/stop. Some values of aperture: f/1.4 (large aperture), f/10 (small aperture). For food photography aperture shows how much the background will be blur or even the part of the object. It draws the viewer’s attention exactly where you want it to be and forces them to forget the rest. (with small and large aperture)

Some styling tips:

  1. Create the height in a photo

  2. Complement the dish with an appropriate color or interesting texture

  3. Choose simple tableware

  4. Background itself plays an important role in the whole picture

  5. Get some work-in-progress shots

Important to know:

Do not overdo with post-processing!

A small post-processing can help your shot to look better but 95% of the good result has to be done during photo shooting.

Type: Inspiration

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