10 Secrets of Food Photography to Make Your Photographs Appetizing

Secrets of Food Photography

Let’s take a look at its basic principles and some secrets of food photography. Food photography has long been a stand-alone commercial project. Much of it depends on the lighting, shape, and appearance of the product. Regardless of whether you are photographing a dish for a regular publication or a personal culinary page on the Internet, the process of photographing food remains the same.

10 Secrets of Food Photography

10 Secrets of Food Photography
10 Secrets of Food Photography to Make Your Photographs Appetizing

1. The Primary Secret is to Choose Right Sources of Light

Food photography is one of those genres of photography where less is more. To photograph people, cars, or interiors, you can use many light sources to achieve the intended effect. There is always the opportunity to add light, apply a play of shadows, or complement the composition with a secondary but ultimately winning element in these genres.

Food is the semantic center in food photography, and often diffused light is directed at it from a single power source.

Lighting plays an important role in food photography.
Lighting plays an important role in food photography and it’s the key to success in this genre.

If, for some reason, your photo arsenal lacks a photo box for shadowless shooting, take a closer look at the windows. Often, natural light from a window is sufficient to obtain high-quality lighting. Backlighting or side lighting will accentuate the depth of the field and highlight the texture of the food.

The Primary Secret is to Choose Right Sources of Light
The Primary Secret is to Choose Right Sources of Light

Of course, there are cloudy days when there is not enough daylight, or the photographer needs to work in the evening or at night. If you cannot position your subject table in front of a significant source of natural light, then a softbox and other devices that diffuse artificial light is indispensable. High flash power is not always needed – for example, in a 24-inch softbox, it is enough to set it to a quarter of the power.

2. Select The Best Angle to Photograph

As with portraits, you can use different angles in food photography. The concept of taking a picture only in one’s imagination does not always give the best shot. Try to photograph each dish from different angles. Take a few shots, change the shooting angle and take a couple more photos.

Select The Correct Angle
Choose The Right Angle

Variety is essential if you are filming food on order for a client because he often wants to choose angles and the opportunity to view the food or the finished dish from different angles.

Select The Correct Angle

Remember that food can look different when you change the angle. Choose the camera angle carefully, approach the process wisely, and take your time because food is the “model” that will not get bored and not get tired of waiting while you carefully prepare for the shooting process.

3. First Use Mock-Ups or Drafts

When photographing, keep in mind that the food should look fresh, as if you had just been brought in from the kitchen. In the process of lengthy preparation and installation of equipment, it can lose its appetizing appearance. Many food photographers use mock-ups or “drafts.”

Use Mock-Ups or Drafts

First, they take test shots with a dummy, and when everything is completely ready for photography, the main “living dish” or fresh food appears in the frame. With this method, you don’t have to rush and be nervous, and it helps you get good photos.

4. Proper Depth of Field is Important for Clarity & Quality

Close-up photography of a dish is essentially macro photography. Sometimes the background can be blurry, and sometimes it needs more clarity to improve the perception of the image by the viewer.

At f/1.8-2.8, you can get a soft blurry background. It will be inconvenient if you are shooting many identical subjects. Some of them will be in focus, while other defocused objects will create a pleasant background. In any case, the picture shows certain products.

Background of Food Photography

If you intend to shoot a variety of food, and the background plays a role in the overall picture, you should achieve a greater depth of field and make the image as clear as possible. Keep in mind that depth of field extends not only back and forth but also side to side.

Taking Pictures of Ice Cream

Ice cream is the most challenging food to photograph, as it immediately melts and prevents you from making many attempts to get the best shot. Professionals use one trick in this case – they use dry ice.

Taking Pictures of Ice Cream
Secrets of Food Photography

It is enough to gradually overlay it with the subject of photography (and ideally, place a few cubes inside the ice cream), and you will achieve the desired effect. If this cannot be done, you can put refrigerant around the ice cream in between shots, significantly slowing down the melting.

5. Pay Attention Components of the Dish

Delicious food doesn’t always look pretty in the photo. Before shooting, consider how best to fill the frame. It is quite a good option – to photograph not the whole dish but its ingredients.

For example, a close-up photo of coffee beans will be able to convey their texture in detail. We cannot touch them, but we know very well what tactile sensations should be; this enhances the effect of photography.

Pay Attention Components of the Dish

Try to use the strengths of the products, if necessary – take pictures of their preparation process. For many photographers, sauces photography becomes a particular challenge. If their fluidity makes it difficult to get a good shot, you can take it at rest.

6. The Place for Photography is Also Important

Think about the effect you want from the composition. If you need to show food in the best light, you should shoot it in the kitchen or use the appropriate surroundings. Such pictures will look harmonious and can better convey the idea.

The place for Photography is Also Important

Pay attention to the fact that the specialist applies food to the plate using special tongs, doing this carefully. Remember that a slight drop or crumb distracts the viewer’s attention, and you should not hope to correct these flaws with the help of graphic editors because they are just a tool and not a lifesaver. Learn to do everything initially according to the rules and without mistakes.

7. Use Reverse Techniques

Remember that there are products that are best displayed in a non-perfect finished form. It will allow you to more accurately convey their consistency and give the viewer the right mood. Think creatively.

Using Reverse Techniques

For example, when photographing a cookie, it can be slightly crumbled, a steak can be cut, and so on. Such techniques give such an effect as if others are eating the dish, and the viewer can also “eat” it. When using this method, the main thing is not to overdo it.

8. Consider the Purpose of Photography

It is advisable to initially understand what target audience the image you are creating is intended for. The approach to photography depends on whether the photo is in a magazine, in a cookbook, or on a promotional poster.

Consider the Purpose of Photography
Secrets of Food Photography

Consult with the client about the layout. Even beautiful photographs will have to be redone in the event of an incorrectly selected image format. To do this, take several shots at once from different angles. The customer should have options from which he can choose the best, in his opinion, photo.

9. Use Less Volume

It is not necessary to photograph a full plate of food to get a quality shot. Do not pile up food – it is enough that all the components are visible, but there should not be many of them because your picture is not intended for a hungry child.

Use Less Volume
Secrets of Food Photography

Leaving white space between the border of the plate and the food will help create contrast.

10. Don’t Touch the Food Stylist’s Plate

If you are working in tandem with a food stylist, then do not shift the food laid out in the frame because the specialist in the beautiful arrangement of food in the frame is he, not you.

Your task, in this case, is to photograph the food beautifully and nothing more. Respect other people’s work; then your work will also be respected.

Don't Touch the Food Stylist's Plate
Secrets of Food Photography

If you think that some food components should be shifted, then tell the food stylist that together, it will always be easier to find the best way out of the situation.

How to Take Food Photos Correctly in Summer?

Summer has come; you changed your boring shoes for bright sandals, removed warm blankets from the house, and took out garden furniture. Summer trends are also observed in the field of food photography.

It is better to use the appropriate props for shooting summer food because you do not need to look far for them. You can find everything you need at a seasonal sale, for example, at a restaurant or anywhere else.

Pay due attention to inspiration and fantasy. Understanding the trends of summer photography and applying them wisely to obtain photographs can improve the level of your work.

Do not complicate the process and use expensive props for filming. All it takes is nice plates and cutlery. You can diversify the summer table by adding simple and bright accessories, reflecting the necessary emotions in textiles, vases, candles, trays, coasters, and herbs.

How to Take Food Photos Correctly in Summer?
How to Take Food Photos Correctly in Summer?

There are plots in food photography that do not go out of fashion, and they become especially relevant by the summer. These are rustic surroundings and vintage picnics. These themes are found everywhere, from simple events to wedding tables. Using a few key points, you can easily recreate these scenes in your kitchen.

Vintage Style Food Photography

Summer is the time for picnics, but this year they breathe antiquity. To achieve this effect, it is enough to use floral prints in pastel colors, supplement them with some Chinese umbrella, and voila – the topic is revealed. All-natural elements are used in a vintage style. Grass and flowers can be used as a background.

Vintage Style Food Photography
Secrets of Food Photography

If finances permit, it’s a good idea to add antique elements such as bowls, silver, and porcelain with intricate floral designs to the props. If your budget is tight, pick up the items you need at flea markets, antique stores, and old country houses.

Vintage Style Food Photography
Secrets of Food Photography

Also, the following elements are trendy for creating vintage plots:

  • beautiful glass bottles;
  • fresh flowers;
  • towels;
  • blankets;
  • tablecloths;
  • umbrellas and picnic baskets;
  • decanters;
  • paper straws;
  • fresh fruits;
  • unusual plates, teapots, and teacups.

Rustic Table

The trend of food photography has taken to a whole new level this summer. It went from simple shots in an old barn on a table battered by life to complex compositions decorated with natural elements. The metals that have tarnished from time to time go well with wood, which creates a romantic atmosphere.

food on rustic table

It is better than the props being removed have scuffs, peeling paint, and have darkened from time to time. Finding such things is not tricky; search in antique stores or on the Internet.

How to Take Food Photos Correctly in Summer?
Secrets of Food Photography

Wooden boards for cutting bread, unusual dishes, tarnished metal trays, gilded and silver cutlery, dark plates, bowls, dishes, various cans, burlap, gauze, twine, and other similar objects also look good in the frame.

Styling Tips for Food Photography:

  • Color, texture, and shape must work together to highlight the food. Don’t forget that food is the center of photography, and props only make up the overall atmosphere.
  • Elements of the composition should be realistic, convenient, and simple to arrange. Always ask yourself what the point of this constellation is. Choose backgrounds that complement your food plate, making it more lifelike.
  • Make your photos content-rich and responsive. Try to imagine a story and convey it visually to the viewer.
  • When placing elements, you need to maintain a balance. Strive for a harmonious combination of textures, shapes, sizes, and colors of parts.

Now you know all the professional secrets of food photography. There is no right or wrong way to photograph food, so follow only one principle – photography should make you want to eat what is illustrated on it. I Hope, you must enjoy the process of taking the picture.