Food Product Photography
Everything in the photo is a decision.
CHOOSE YOUR ANGLE
There are really only a few camera angles in food photography that you see again and again, but you need to make the one you choose, a conscious decision. Where you place the camera will affect the type of story you’re trying to tell.
SURROUND YOUR HERO
When shooting from the front of the food try to keep a great foreground and background to play with. Use these empty spaces to tell more of a story. Surround your main dish with ingredients and props that relate to the food. Ingredients, sauces, oils, and cooking utensils could indicate how the dish was made and give more gravity to your food photography.
NATURAL IS BEST MODIFIED
Light is king, and acquiring a few tools to help you control it will bring your food photography up to the next level. Poor use of light will ruin your story and immediately turn off your audience.
When working with direct sunlight, a diffusor (or even a thin white bed sheet) will greatly improve the quality of light. Softening those hard, dark shadows and bright highlights caused by direct sunlight.
KNOW WHEN TO USE ARTIFICIAL LIGHT
A tungsten lamp or a small compact flash make great options for shooting your food at night. The key is to use a large diffusion source to create a beautiful, soft light that will fall over your set. I like to modify my light with umbrellas, soft boxes, or a large diffusion scrim.
VARY YOUR BACKGROUND
There are millions of options from which to choose. You can use anything from painted wood to cloth to stone in food photography. Changing out your background to a new one, might just be the thing needed to create a more interesting food shot.
LESS IS MORE
Ask yourself, “What’s really the subject here?” This simple question will help to shape your composition. Check all four corners of the frame carefully. The goal is to create a clean frame as opposed to visual clutter.
DESIGN YOUR COMPOSITION
Think beyond the obvious subject, and consider shape and form when crafting your composition. Adding a knife, for instance, can balance a composition if placed in the rule of thirds.
USE A HIGH ISO
Simply put, the higher the ISO number is, the faster light can get into the camera. At ISO 800 you will get light into the camera faster than you would at ISO 100 or 200. When shooting food indoors you will often need to be at 1600 or even 3200.
DO NOT USE YOUR ON-CAMERA FLASH
Your on-camera flash looks horrible on food. You will get loads of specular highlights on any area that has moisture, and these specular highlights are not only distracting but will make your food look greasy instead of moist. You will also get strange and unattractive shadows.
SHOOT ON A TRIPOD
Try it! It will completely free up your hands to style your dish, in order to work on your shot. I am a commercial food photographer, so I am either shooting in my studio or some other controlled environment where I can use tripods, so this tip is for those situations.
Shooting vertically can give you nice depth in a photo from foreground to background. This also enables you to have large photos on your blog, if you have one. Shooting vertically can give you room for text like a title.