5 steps to yummier food photos
Here are some easy ways to make your food photography look like the work of a professional.
Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 01:43 PM
No matter how much technology surrounds us, we never lose our fascination with the basic, tasty things in life — which explains why food photography is all over social networking sites. Most of us reach for our camera phones to photograph a meal, sometimes with less-than-appetizing results. Here’s how to make your camera phone food photos look tastier.
1. Foreground the food
Bring your camera phone up close to the food and try filling at least the lower third of the frame with it while capturing a couple background elements that suggest the setting. Food often looks great served in the middle of a big white plate, but in the photo below, the plate just creates blank space. Use a tight composition to eliminate as much of the white plate as possible. Try using a plate small enough to fill with the food, a dark-colored plate or a side dish that fills empty space.
To achieve this unappetizing display of photographic ineptitude, we lit and shot the burger from above, alone on a big white plate. This is the same hamburger as the one shown lower on this page under rule #3. It was shot using an iPhone 4S. (Photo: Aimee Baldridge)
2. Avoid flat lighting
The angle of the light falling on the food will determine how much texture and contour shows. Use side lighting by positioning the food next to a window or using something white like a napkin or a menu to bounce light onto it from the side. If you’re shooting at home, try setting a lamp to one side of the dish. Don’t use a camera phone flash with food unless there’s no other way to get enough light, because it will create harsh shadows and reflections without showing much texture. [How Do I Avoid Blurry Photos?]
An avocado-topped hamburger slider in Japan. The photo demonstrates plenty of lighting techniques to showcase the texture of the bun, burger and avocado. This was shot using an iPhone. (Photo: hirotomo/Flickr)
3. Shoot from a low angle
Some dishes look good when shot dead-on from above, but many don’t. Bring your camera phone down to table level and try different angles to see which one shows the most detailed and interesting view. Shooting at table level will make the food look more prominent in the shot, and it will also allow you to capture some of the background to show the context of the meal.
The right angle and the right light make a difference. Using a smaller, darker plate and adding trimmings eliminates white space. See how freshly grilled the burger looks? That's from dabbed-on oil. It's a $2 mystery-meat sandwich shot using an iPhone 4S. (Photo: Aimee Baldridge)
4. Add oil
Food looks better when it’s shiny. Dabbing just a tiny bit of oil on the food you’re shooting will make it look juicier and fresher. The way the light reflects off the shinier surface will enhance the appearance of texture, too.
5. Go Macro
To get really close and capture a whole new perspective on your dish, use an inexpensive macro lens like the $15 Easy-Macro and turn a bland-looking lump of comestibles into a work of art. Macro shots work especially well with food that has an interesting texture but not a lot of color.
We used an Easy-Macro lens to take these close-ups that show the texture and ingredients of this muffin, providing a more appetizing perspective. (Photo: Aimee Baldridge)
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