Foodie or No Foodie, admit it, each one of you have tried clicking food at least once (and mostly failed.) You must have wondered about what went wrong with your Food Photography endeavor. I genuinely do not want you to think about it, rather let’s focus on what you should take care of when you are giving it a try next time.
I’m going to list a few tips in this blog that I implement in all my professional Food Photography assignments. I’ll also try to explain those things to you in the best possible way I can. These tips will sure make your Food Photographs better right from your next try. Read on…
The Best Possible Angle
Mostly you will observe that food photographs are taken from top. This allows the photographer to showcase the entire arrangement on the table. This angle also helps in avoiding the unnecessary clutter from the hotel or the room that you are shooting in. Top is undoubtedly the most favorite food photography angle.
The next favorite angle among photographers is the flat angle. This is most useful when you are photographing standing objects like glasses or bottles. It is definitely not restricted to these subjects; you can go creative and explore. If shooting in this angle, do make sure that there are two surfaces involved in your frame now – 1. The surface on which the subject is placed, 2. The background against which the subject is standing. Paying attention to both these surfaces is very important in terms of their color, texture, proximity to the subject, etc.
The third most common angle is roughly 45 degree, looking down at food. This angle has good from both the worlds. It shows good amount of details like the top down angle and also shows how tall the subject is.
There is definitely no perfect angle. Your angle should depend on your perspective of a particular setup and the subject’s demand.
Hold Your Camera Right
Most of the hobbyist Food Photographers or even the most professional Food Bloggers and Photographers are using their phone cameras to shoot food now a days. With the habit of bad camera angles used for selfies, people are forgetting the good old ways of holding the camera. You can use good quality Mobile Tripods to help you with angles.
Make sure that you are holding the camera either completely horizontal or exactly vertical to the surface on which food is kept. You can tilt the camera forward towards the food or backward but do not roll the camera left and right. This will ensure that your plates, table edges will not be miss-aligned. This maintains the perspective of your crockery & food and keeps your images distortion free.
Using a good sturdy Pan Head Tripod can help you maintain your correct angle and alignment with the horizon.
Light is the most important aspect of any photograph. Specifically natural light is the best friend of photographers and the most important ingredient in any Food Photography. Make an effort to photograph your food in natural light, rather than shooting in any sort of artificial lights such as Studio Lights or Continuous LED Lights.
Often, artificial light tends to add unwanted color tinge to your photos. You can correct the minor color changes in editing software but color corrections are still pretty limited and may not get you to the exact original shade. A little change in food color can visually mean a change in flavor.
Always remember that there are three main things to be looked for when photographing food. Texture, Color and Freshness. Natural light maintains these three characteristics very well. That’s why working in natural light reduces a lot of your work in post processing.
If you find the natural light that you are shooting in is too bright or harsh, try using a diffuser. It will soften the light and also result in softer shadows. If you don’t have hands on a professional diffuser, then using white cotton sheet / butter paper can also do just the trick for you. The best way to harness natural light for shoots is by setting up a table next to a window where there is no direct sunlight.
The most common mistake made by beginners is getting in between the light source and the food itself. This creates shadows on food and results into darker images. Always know where your light is coming from. Allow as much light on the subject as possible.
Having said that, shadows are not bad all the time. Shadows add necessary contrast, they give sense of depth and also makes the food / plates pop out from the background and surfaces. Knowing how much shadows is good definitely needs a trained eye. But as a rule, always remember that shadows should not be too jarring and disturbing. Shadows should not occupy large areas of your photograph. Try to retain some details from the shadowed area of your frame.
You can always change the intensity of shadows with some simple methods. If you have access to Reflector, use one from the opposite side of light, this will reflect some light in the shadowed area and enhance exposure there, making softer shadows. Do not worry in case you do not have reflector, any white thing that can bounce light is useful. For example, you can use white napkin, white table cloth, white paper, etc. You will definitely enjoy the play of shadows, if you understand how to control them.
Do not forget to hop onto the next part of this blog – Part II where I have shared more tips for beginner food photographers.