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Beginner tips for food photography

Isabella Santoro

Photography Editor

Photo taken by Isabella Santoro

Food photography is one area of photography that is not an easy thing to master without knowing the right tips and tricks. As someone who works in the food industry, presentation is a big deal for advertising and photography plays a huge role. Many businesses will take snaps of their foods and drinks and put these photos on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook. During that process, it’s important that these photos look professional and well done to really capture both the quality of the food and hard work going into making it.

Whether you’re taking shots for a business, an event or just for fun to share on your social media, presentation is huge for food photography. The food must look a certain way in order to drive people to a business or to just say, “Wow, that looks really good.” Angles are very important and one big tip is to make sure you’ve got the right angles that capture the entire dish so people can really see what’s on the plate. For this, a good suggestion is to make sure that you pick an angle that flatters the food you’re capturing. It’s ultimately case by case, meaning some angles will work for one dish and may not work for another.

Foods such as pasta or veggie dishes look best when they’re just made to take photos of. That’s when they look the best and what will drive people into a food business. Desserts and pastries look best at an angle that shows everything from the icing to the inside of the cake. Snap different shots of the cake before and after it’s been sliced open, so consumers can see what’s inside. You want the angles to tell a story.

Modified light will work the best to help bring out the colors and the dishes you’re working with. If you’re working with a camera, it’s best to make sure you select the right setting for the best light. Whether that’s using flash or not, be careful with which setting you use. Much like still-life photography, the object won’t move until you make it move, so you can play around with different kinds of lighting. Figure out if natural light works better or if artificial light does.

Because it’s much like still-life, food photography can be one of the easiest types of photography to make work at pretty much all angles. You can add props to the background, make it simple with a backdrop or even make someone holding or serving the food. Where I work, we often post our dishes on Instagram and have an employee serving the food or preparing the dish so it really tells a story. So much time and hard work goes into making dishes, and using props such as people is one of the best ways to ensure you’re presenting a good looking meal.

If you want the focus to be on the dish and nothing else, you’re going to want to use a plain backdrop such as black or white. A white backdrop will help the dish to appear lighter and a black backdrop will help it to appear more vibrant and colorful. I’d suggest using a black backdrop if you’re going for a simple background, as it will bring out the subject better. If you’re looking to use a prop such as a person, make sure they are presenting it the way you’d like it to be. People are less easy to photograph, but if you’re able to have them at the best angles that present them and the food, well, go for it. If you’re going for a different kind of background such as in a restaurant or outside, make sure the light is flattering for your dish, and that the nature and business around you will flatter your dish.

Some things to remember is to have fun with it. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as it looks the way you want it to, and it flatters the dish, that’s all that matters.


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