Tips for Food Photography

April 28, 2016

I have great news.

Earlier this week, I was approached by an online female health magazine to manage their social media, specifically to "reinvigorate" their Instagram page. I've been following them pretty much since we first digitally crossed paths through the popular photo-sharing app several months ago. And I must say, the moment I first checked out their website (it looked so different and unpolished back then!), I immediately picked up that this venture was eventually going to be a success. Which is why it was such a lucky surprise that the brand's founder noticed and quietly kept tabs on me through the months. I'm really well beyond flattered that she's confident in my photo skills enough to have me do the job, so I sort of pray that she never sees this post. Because I am, in no way, exaggerating this: I'm as kilig as a girl could be! And I'm thrilled to be given yet another space to showcase my still-developing skills as a content creator, this time for a movement that, quite frankly, I'd happily bet my life on.

Food photography is a hobby that I quickly fell in love with and I personally find it the easiest of all kinds. Compared to the others, this kind of photography allows you total control of everything, from the subject down to the tiniest details of its composition. Guaranteed, you will be seeing a lot of this on HBWH's Instagram beginning May, in a salad bowl of all things relating to the health, wellness, beauty, strength and inspirations of a Filipino woman. While I know I'm still far from being called a food photographer, I just wanted to share a couple of my own tips and tricks for shooting fail-proof, totally Instagram-worthy shots of your food before I started. These are tricks that I learned firsthand so I'm excited to have you guys use and play around with them! Regardless of what camera you use, I hope these are enough to win your shots a coveted spot on the Top Posts of your favorite food-related heshteg.


Natural Lighting

In taking good photographs of food, soft sunlight is your best friend. This is a beginner-friendly tip because it saves the photographer the time and effort to play around with artificial lighting. If the sun is up, there isn't much need for camera setting adjustments and it will be very convenient for mobile camera users. Natural sunlight helps food look effortlessly fresh and vibrant.


Color Balance & Composition

My personal style of food photography uses a lot of color. For me, the more colorful, the happier the shots look! But whatever your style is, it's always important to be mindful of the amount of elements (composition) present in your shot. Is it already looking like big, giant mess in there? Is your main subject being overpowered by the less important elements (ingredients, utensils, decorations)? You don't want your photo to be overwhelming with so many things going on, so it's best that you first identify the subject that you want to stand out, and only then do you add or deduct supporting elements to the entire picture, such as a table napkin, a spoon, a knife, or a glass of water.

The food that I prepare is usually already colorful in nature, but if you're more the type that makes less vibrant dishes like pasta, noodles, rice bowls and deep-fried foods, adding just a small pop of red or green makes a huge difference. Using some color in the shot immediately brings your food to life, so always remember to put things like lemon, chives, parsley, cilantro or any other herb on your grocery list for the sake of garnishing. Take a look at these two pasta dishes and tell me which one you think looks more appetizing: example 1 / example 2.


Work Fast

The art of food photography is exciting because you always have to be quick at taking your shots. Keep in mind that your subject is food, and not all food stays fresh for a long time to be photographed. This shouldn't be a problem if you're shooting dry or preserved foods, but once you face subjects like ice cream or even sauce-drizzled snacks like tacos, that is when you face the real battle with time.


Variety

Take shots, and take a lot of them. Use your freedom to move around the table to shoot from various angles, from the top of the table to the closest you can get to the food without messing up your lens. This will ensure that you make the most out of the beauty of your creation and in the end, will give you many options to choose from for your best shot!


Zooming & Detail


When food is the subject of your photo, you want to zoom in as close as possible in some shots to give your audience an eye-popping view that they can almost taste what you created. The trick to making food shots look absolutely drool-worthy is in the zooming, so try to master this or use the macro setting of your camera if it has it. 

Another awesome thing about zooming in is it allows you to see any unwanted smudges of sauce, a stray of salt or even a lost ant(!) that you missed when you finished setting up. Be very wary of ants; those little critters have become a frequent at some of my shoots!


Observe

My last tip is to take some time to check out other food photography enthusiasts and observe how they come up with their shots. This way, you can pick up techniques from them and learn different styles that might just work for you! This will eventually help you get more comfortable with the practice and discover your own personal style of food photography along the way.


Much luck to you, and have fun snapping!

Meek x

images: Viktor Hanacek

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