My haven through food photography

In the midst of hiatus I found refuge through photography.  I am not an expert by any means, but when I am in the comfort of food, combined with the convenience of my iPhone and/or digital camera, for a brief moment in time, I find peace and harmonious balance through the lens…

Whilst actively taking food photography classes online, I found this resourceful website filled with general information on getting started, and I wanted to share it, along with some of my latest amateur food pictorial.

Please feel free to add your comments below…I would love to hear your feedback —gcc

Copyright © 2013 Grace Clerc. All rights reserved.

Food Photography – An Introduction

by Darren Rowse

Interested in learning about Food Photography? Read on for some introductory tips.

Visit any bookshop and head for the cook book section and you’ll be overwhelmed by the array of books filled with scrumptious recipes accompanied by wonderful photography of the meals being written about.

Colorful stacks of vegetables drizzled with rich sauces on a clean white plate with glistening table settings – you know the shots. Sometimes the photography is almost the true focus of the book with the recipes taking a secondary role.

But how do you photograph food and get such great results?

1. Lighting

Treat the food you’re photographing as you would any other still life subject and ensure that it is well-lit. Many of the poor examples of food photography that I’ve come across in the research for this article could have been drastically improved with adequate lighting. One of the best places to photograph food is by a window where there is plenty of natural light – perhaps supported with flash bounced off a ceiling or wall to give more balanced lighting that cuts out the shadows. This daylight helps to keep the food looking much more natural.

2. Props

Copyright © 2013 Grace Clerc. All rights reserved.

Pay attention not only to the arrangement of the food itself but to the context that you put it in including the plate or bowl and any table settings around it. Don’t clutter the photo with a full table setting but consider one or two extra elements such as a glass, fork, flower or napkin. These elements can often be placed in secondary positions in the foreground or background of your shot.

3. Be Quick

Food doesn’t keep it’s appetizing looks for long so as a photographer you’ll need to be well prepared and able to shoot quickly after it’s been cooked before it melts, collapses, wilts and/or changes color. This means being prepared and knowing what you want to achieve before the food arrives. One strategy that some use is to have the shot completely set up with props before the food is ready and then to substitute a stand-in plate to get your exposure right. Then when the food is ready you just switch the stand-in plate with the real thing and you’re ready to start shooting.

Copyright © 2013 Grace Clerc. All rights reserved.

4. Style it

The way food is set out on the plate is as important as the way you photograph it. Pay attention to the balance of food in a shot (color, shapes etc) and leave a way into the shot (using leading lines and the rule of thirds to help guide your viewer’s eye into the dish). One of the best ways to learn is to get some cook books to see how the pros do it.

5. Enhance it

One tip that a photographer gave me last week when I said I was writing this was to have some vegetable oil on hand and to brush it over food to make it glisten in your shots.

Copyright © 2013 Grace Clerc. All rights reserved.

6. Get Down Low

A mistake that many beginner food photographers make is taking shots that look down on a plate from directly above. While this can work in some circumstances – in most cases you’ll get a better shot by shooting from down close to plate level (or slightly above it).

7. Macro

Really focusing in upon just one part of the dish can be an effective way of highlighting the different elements of it.

8. Steam

Having steam rising off your food can give it a ‘just cooked’ feel which some food photographers like. Of course this can be difficult to achieve naturally. I spoke with one food stylist a few years back who told me that they added steam with a number of artificial strategies including microwaving water-soaked cotton balls and placing them behind food. This is probably a little advance for most of us – however it was an interesting trick so I thought I’d include it.

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  1. The best camera, is the one in your hands. Always take pictures by a window if it is during the day. Also, make sure that the colors of your food “come alive” – if it’s meat, it should be pink and juicy looking. One question I always ask- “does it look like something I want to eat?”

    There’s one thing that I always am jealous of – the blogs with awesome pictures. However, most of the time, these people have a TEAM behind a blog post. Someone writes, someone takes a picture and someone else cooks.

    1. Thanks Stella! You’re right about taking advantage of natural lighting…starting to really play around with this more. I especially love taking pictures of food or food-related items when I am at my mom’s place. The informal dining area is situated next to the patio door leading to the backyard–the perfect spot to grab some of the natural sunlight that hits the wood table just right 😉

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