In my last post I talked about the food photography phenomenon. It seems there are a lot of people these days who enjoy taking photos of their meals. While I don’t consider myself an expert I do have a bit of experience in the area. So I’ve done some research and have a few tips from the pros on how to take good photos of your food.
According to Andrew Scrivani, photographer and food writer, there are 5 key things you can do take take better photos; I’ve added my own insights too.
- Use natural light. Shoot outdoors or use window light. Using flash on most point-and-shoot cameras is not a good idea. It’s better to take advantage of soft natural light that illuminates the food from the side / behind / or below the arrangement.
- Get close. Fill the frame so that there are no distractions like your companion’s utensils or the waiter. The idea is to make the food the focus.
- Set up the scene. Take time to adjust the plate and food on it, if necessary. Or maybe rotate the dish a bit to get a better angle.
- Soften the scene. If it’s too bright, you can use a white card, scrims, or other gear which can be purchased at a camera shop. If you are indoors you can simply pull the shade a bit. A pro I know says the north facing window is the best place to photograph due to softer light.
- Low light can be a challenge. Low lighting can cause 2 unwanted effects to appear in your photos: blur and noise. Try moving your plate to where the lighting is the brightest. Using a tripod on an automatic setting or with a remote trigger will prevent blur (you won’t have to worry about camera shake). Experiment with your camera settings, a higher ISO will enable you to take photos in low light conditions, but you may have some noise as a result.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Just as you use etiquette when dining with others, do the same with photography. If you are in a crowded diner, make the shot quick and try not to overly inconvenience others. If you sense that someone is really uncomfortable with it, you may consider just putting your camera away; you can always shoot another day.
I read a fascinating article in The New York Times about people who like to take pictures of food and post them online. I can admit I am guilty of this. Its one thing to whip out an iPhone or Blackberry, but another to take out a DSLR with a big lens and go for it. Sometimes I am eyed suspiciously by the staff. Its almost a compulsion. One I’ve stifled lately. My friends humor me and know my obsession with all things photography. This article though, it’s validated me; it’s given me confidence to stand up and say “I am not alone!” My shots may not be good enough to grace the covers of Bon Apetit, but they bring back memories of good food and good company.