Food Photography to make mouths water. By Rosie Kelly
‘Direct sunlight and the flash on your camera are to be avoided at all costs’ says Rosie
However delicious your cakes and bakes taste and however good they look in real life, getting them to look mouthwatering in photos can be tough. Whether you run a blog, own a business or just want to show off your creations on social media, check out these tips for making your food look as good as it tastes.
As in all photography, light is really important in food photography – and the best light is almost always natural light. A bright but cloudy day produces the best kind of diffuse, soft light. But photographing your dishes next to a window whatever the weather will often produce the best results.
Direct sunlight and the flash on your camera are to be avoided at all costs as they will create harsh shadows that don’t look appealing, so aim to take your photo in the shade, but close to the window or even outside. You can brighten up the photo using basic online photo-editing software such as PicMonkey later if needed.
Professional food photographers take great photos using high-end kit, but for most people a digital camera or even a good phone camera will be perfectly adequate. You’ll find lots of information online about how to get the most out of your camera generally, and learning how to use features like manual focus, shutter speed and aperture will improve your photography skills all round.
Once you’ve got your camera to hand and your food ready to photograph, you’ll want to make sure it’s looking at its most delicious. Got a lemon with a mark on the skin? Turn it over. A few crumbs fallen onto the plate? Dust them off to ensure that they don’t distract from the subject.
Think about what sort of props you might like to use along with your food – sometimes a simple shot is best, but on other occasions a fork or napkin in shot can help to add some interest. If your everyday crockery isn’t very interesting, you can often pick up nice bits and pieces to use as props in charity shops – you don’t need a full set of anything, just the odd plate, platter or piece of cutlery.
Now you’re ready to start taking some photos – and one of the best pieces of advice I can give is to take plenty of them. Try out different compositions, different angles and different props; you might find a new angle you hadn’t thought of before.
Bear in mind that you don’t always need your whole dish or cake to be in shot or even the main attraction – sometimes a close up of the filling of a burger or a platter of cupcakes on a beautifully laid table can be just as interesting.
Finally, try to follow the ‘rule of thirds’ in composition, which makes a photograph more visually interesting. Mentally divide up your photo into nine squares – the focal points of the photo (the cake, plate or cookies) should fall along the lines these squares create and at the places where they intersect, sometimes called the sweet spots.
And that’s about all there is to it! Taking beautiful photos of your creations can be as easy or as complex as you want – you can find hours searching out the perfect cake stand, or just follow some basic tips on lighting. Either way, you should end up with some beautiful photography that shows off your creations in the best possible light.
Rosie Kelly is a freelance writer with experience of working on shoots for a food magazine. In her spare time she blogs about food, travel and books at The Rosie Project.