Whether it’s Christmas or New Year, any festive season would bring in a lot of food around to enjoy. Now living in an era, where even the restaurants make their regular food look Instagram worthy prompting us to click & post, taking festive food pictures and posting them on all the possible social media platforms has become a routine for many. Clicking food and making it presentable for the picture is not only fun but it also creates a wonderful opportunity to tell your food story through your images to the world. However, capturing the festive energy and the delicious food in one frame could be quite tricky if you’re new to this.
Before we get into the details let me tell you that food photography is not just about clicking food for Instagram or any other social media platform. It is a fine art of storytelling where you try and capture a balanced frame in which the food is the main subject in focus with the right elements and composition of light, complementing the subject and the occasion. Ultimately, a good picture captures the textures & colours of food and gets the viewer emotionally connected to the mood of the picture by virtually evoking their senses, as if the food is right in front of them.
If you have a natural flair for photography and culinary arts, then food photography becomes second nature to you. However, these skills can also be developed in a professionally - trained enthusiastic culinarian by learning some basics of photography. Now, since the festive season is on, I would like to share some tips and tricks that I make use of in the making of a perfect food picture.
1. Nothing Like Natural Light
Photography is all about playing with lights in the right way, and when it comes to food photography, sunlight plays a crucial role. I personally don’t prefer artificial lights in food photography as I feel it takes away the visual essence of the food.
When you are shooting for a festive season, you can always use decorative led lights or candles as props but avoid using any of them as a source of light for photography as it will never help you show the actual colours or textures of the food. Also, for best results, stay away from any direct flashlights. Again this is an elaborate topic in itself which we could discuss another time.
Now when you’re relying on natural light completely, keep in mind that the best time to photograph food is either early morning or in the afternoon when the sun shines at its best giving soft lights without falling harshly on the subject. If shot in perfect timing and place the early morning light can even add a beautiful bokeh effect to the image giving it a natural festive touch.
2. Use your props wisely
Props are very important in food photography. More than food, it is the accessories that create the tone and mood for the picture. They tell the story and communicate with the viewer. At the same time, one thing you have to keep in mind is that no matter how tempting or blah your food looks, a prop can easily make or break the whole image. Therefore use your props carefully and wisely. Also, while using props make sure it complements the food without overpowering it. After all, bling is not what we are looking for in a food photo.
3. Keep it Natural
When photographing food, consider its flavour aspect and highlight that in the picture. For example, a piece of chocolate cake with some ganache dripping down or a little uneven icing on the sides gives you a rustic and dramatic feeling that a fine dining worth piece of cake fails to do. It feels natural and automatically puts the viewer at ease. The thing is, presentation is important but find a balance and try not to make the plate look restaurant perfect. Keep its natural self which will enhance the overall effect on the image.
4. Be Instinctively Creative
Although there are so many rules in photography to get things right, food photography is to have fun and follow your instincts. Even though I would have some idea at the beginning of a shoot, I still wouldn’t have a clear picture of what I want to see at the end. I try so many angles and styles to get that one picture on which my mind sets on.
When you follow your instincts, you will know the right composition, light, and angle of the picture. Just keep the basics in your mind and let your creativity go with the flow to capture the essence of the food in the frame of art.
5. No Phones Please
You don’t need a high-end DSLR camera to take a good shot of your food but at the same time, your mobile phone won’t do much justice to the final outcome either. Invest in an entry level DSLR and a good lens such as 50mm portrait lens and that will just do great for your blogs and other digital media platforms. This option not only gives a good quality picture but is very much affordable as well. As your interest and experience grow you can switch to better cameras and lenses too, although 50mm will always come in handy when you deal with food.