Food for thought. Starting your food photography project.

Our 6 quick tips will help you prepare to embrace your first food photography project. From lighting, styling and subject ideas, we covered it all in this blog post.

  1. Employ the light

The first basic rule is to use the right lighting. Food looks best in natural light, so shooting dishes close to a window is always the best option. Daylight will give your food a natural, bright glow and will not tint the colours, but what to do if you happen to do your shoot on a rather gloomy day? Do not use in built flash or a flash mounted on your hotshoe as this will create harsh reflections and shiny spots that will make the food look unappealing. Try using a softbox to create a nice diffused light, like daylight, accompanied by a bounce card that will fill in any shadows.

  1. Steady your camera

Food photography needs a steady camera position to create striking crisp images If you move your camera whilst pressing the shoot button, even the best styled dishes will come out blurry. A low light environment that requires longer exposure, like restaurant table or a kitchen, will always need a stable camera position. If you do not have a tripod, try to rest your camera on a back of a chair or a glass.

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  1. Shoot a lot

Take lots of pictures. Move around the food to find different angles and perspectives. Some food arrangements will look great when photographed directly from above, others, like cakes or beverages, are best shot from a lower angle.

  1. Style the style

Propping and styling your food photo session can be quite a challenge. A very useful piece of advice here is that less is more, and that does not only apply to the portions you shoot! On the other hand, though, don’t be tempted to go to the other extreme by leaving just a plate in the image. Food photography should evoke familiar feelings that viewers will easily associate with, not to say that the shot should make their mouth water.

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Add a personal touch by styling your photo with napkins, cutlery, glassware and tableware to create a scene of serenity as if someone has enjoyed the food you are taking pictures of. Employ various backgrounds to give your shots a creative twist – stone slabs, vibrant coloured chopping boards, placemats or tablecloths. But no matter how stylish you think your style is, don’t forget the food should be main star.

  1. Clean mess

This simple contradiction encapsulates very important factors that will add to your food shot’s appeal. When setting out on a yummy session always ensure the tableware is clean! Nothing can spoil a great shot more than fingerprints on a glass or splashes of sauce on a tablecloth. Food photography calls for perfection! If you need to, use tweezers to rearrange your elements.

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On the other hand, though, don’t be afraid to crumble a cookie. To give your photos a more real life feel, sometimes it is necessary to mess the food up a bit. A glass of milk and a bitten cookie, or crumbles fallen of a slice of cake, will look more scrumptious compared to an untouched dish.

6. Chop, chop

Be quick! Food looks best when it’s freshly cooked. Wilted salad leaves or sealed grease on a steak might not win you the photographer of the year prize. After reading the above and realising how much there is to shooting food you may find this piece of advice quite crazy and discouraging. The key is preparation and practice! If you’re only just starting out with this genre of photography remember that you don’t have to go for complex dishes straight away. Start with something simple like a piece of fruit, a vegetable, some spices, or confectionery; there’s plenty to choose from to start you off.

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So, what are you waiting for? Get stuck in!

If you have any advice or tips on shooting food photography let us know in the comments. We’d also love to see your food shots, post them on Twitter using the hashtag #CalumetGallery and we will share our favourites!  You can also enter our monthly #CalumetGallery photo challenge and be in with a chance of winning a handy gear bag!

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