5 Things I've Learned About Food Photography

I've started getting into food photography. I find this genre of photography enjoyable...I mean c'mon...you get to eat your photo subject!

My friend over at Dine With Shayda has a phenomenal food blog, which has inspired me to snap pictures of my own food encounters. 

There are a few things I've noticed about food photography and what it takes to be successful (and by successful, I mean a well-balanced, well-exposed image):

1. Lighting is Key

Natural lighting is everything. If you can find an outdoor covered patio, that's probably your best bet for a well-exposed photo. Avoid direct sunlight which will only give you harsh shadows. If you're indoors, try standing or sitting next to a window rather than compose the subject under artificial lighting. 

2. Don't Go Alone

Well, I don't 100% agree with this, but there are benefits to having a crew. The main benefit is you'll get more plates in your picture...a variety so to say. Just make sure your crew is chill enough to tolerate you snapping pics, and are ok with you not letting them eat their plates until you've got the shot.

If you do go alone, try doing research in advance to find one item on the menu that's photogenic. I typically will go on Instagram and look at pictures from the tagged location to see what looks interesting and what doesn't.  


3. Angle + Composition

This is another element that's important. If I'm shooting food on the table, I prefer to put my camera directly above the food so that the lens is pointing straight down. Sometimes I'll have to stand up, but usually, I can get the shot by lifting my arm up and over.

Another angle you can try is holding the food item or drink in front of you. Bring the item in focus to blur the background. If you're using a smartphone, this can be done by tapping on your screen whatever you want in focus. If using DSLR, use a lens set at its widest aperture for a nicely blurred background and in-focus subject.

Blurring the background is especially nice with food photography. Try looking for string lights or something particularly interesting, like a logo, in the background. This gives you the opportunity for some creamy bokeh (bokeh = Japanese for blur). 

4. Repetition is Always Nice

Yes, I'm a fan of repeating patterns. This also makes for an interesting photo that isn't as dependent upon light, but the composition takes control. I really have no other advice for shooting this type of photo, but this is just something you have to look out for and take the opportunity to shoot when you see it. 

5. Post-Processing: Keep it Natural

When I was new to post-processing, I took everything to the extreme. Like super gaudy, haloed images with stark, unnatural colors. It was fun, but the ending result was more artistic rather than realistic or editorial. Learning to edit things naturally takes control and knowledge of what tools to use. 

But first you must know that natural editing is best done with a well-exposed image. It's okay if the image is a tad underexposed, which is easy to fix with exposure/shadow/highlight adjustments.

If you know you'll be in a low-light setting, bring a DSLR since its ISO can shoot up way higher. If you're dealing with high-ISO noise in the image, I highly recommend Topaz Denoise, which has the best technology out there for noise removal. Be sure to use it on the RAW image, prior to any other edits so the noise doesn't worsen with further adjustments after. 

While I own a DSLR, I tend to shoot with my iPhone6 a lot. With the right lighting, the camera on that phone is imbecile.  I would much rather shoot with my iPhone than lug around a chunky DSLR. But DSLRs do have the advantage on low-light shots. 

My cellular phone post-processing workflow usually consists of Snapseed (I love their tonal contrast feature) and VSCOcam, which supplies my favorites filters C1, F2 and G3 to tone your image in a hip way. 

Image editing is an art and I could go on and go about how to enhance any given image, however, if you ever have any questions about post-processing hmu by leaving a comment below or sending a message. :)

Check out my food photography portfolio: Eats and Drinks