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How to Improve Your Food Photography Techniques


Studies show that the connection between food photography and cravings is visceral. … A 2012 study published in Physiology & Behavior revealed that how we see food alters how we perceive its taste and smell. Put simply, seeing an image of a delicious-looking dish stimulates your appetite for the real meal.

“Eating with your eyes is more than a witty saying – it's backed by science.”

This is because our sense of sight is the most powerful. We’re scientifically more drawn to something that looks appetizing rather than what it smells like. So, that perfectly-lit croissant with a side of latte art aren’t just trending, they’re suddenly what you want for breakfast. And that stunning sushi platter isn’t only Instagram bait, it’s instinctively making its way on to your plate for dinner.

And it’s not just seeing food photography that affects our psyche. Studies show that by actively delaying consumption, photographing food builds anticipation for what you’re about to eat – increasing your overall enjoyment.

“Chefs have acknowledged that beautiful food photography can spike reservations – and they use it to their advantage.”

5 Tips to Seriously Improve Your Food Photography Techniques:


1. 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.

Think of the food beforehand. Its size, shape, height and what is unique about it. Then place the camera where you think best highlights these qualities. Some dishes look great when you shoot from right in front of the food, and others are best suited when you are looking down from directly above the table. Take a look at the cupcakes below; their spiraled and delicate toppings really stand out when shot from in front, yet the viewer doesn’t even see the size or shape when photographed from above.




2. 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. Tins, jars, herbs, glasses, fabrics and linens could speak about the origin of the dish or the season in which it is served. Placing a few of these in the foreground and background will definitely elevate your story and give it depth.


3. 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. So making sure light doesn’t distract will help out your food photos big time.

Placing a diffuser between the window and your table is first on the list. When working with direct sunlight, a diffuser (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.

Next up are white and black cards. You can make these yourself using foam core boards, bought at any craft store. Size them to fit your needs, using white cards to bounce light into shadow areas, revealing important details, or black cards to make shadows stronger for more contrast.


4. OUR OLD FRIENDS LINES AND LAYERS

With all these props and ingredients in the frame, how will we ever get the audience to look at our subject? Well, bring on the trusty techniques of composing with lines and layers. You can use props or ingredients to create lines and layered effects in your images. This is a compositional technique used by photographers to lead their audience’s eyes to the main subject.

You can use various props to create lines. Like this spoon, which forms a nice line, directing the viewer straight to the bowl of baked peaches and ice cream.

Since shooting from above always gets you more graphic images, there are plenty of chances to create some great lines here as well. Some could be quite literal like this cutlery leading to the round of Brie – or more abstract, like how the knife and pomegranate seeds create lines, framing our subject.

Composing images with layers is always a winner. This Brie, shot from the front, is set in the middle of various props and two large out of focus areas. This creates a layered effect, sending your eyes straight to the star.


5. HOLD THE COLOR

This is my personal favorite. I love hunting for props, backgrounds and tableware to put in my images. This little tip was also the first big mistake I was making when I was starting out. It’s great to have props that are colorful, but if you’re not careful, colorful props can easily upstage your food, and grab all the attention.

When placing items into your food images, try selecting neutral tones, something that makes the food really pop against it. Selecting a neutral background like this black metal tray and baking paper, amplifies the bright red strawberries and rhubarb inside these Crostatas, making them really steal the show.

Do you photograph food? Do you have any additional tips to share with us? Please add your comments below.


Source: @foodschool @google

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