A year ago I bought a Canon Rebel T3i, prior to that I was posting pictures taken with my iPhone. To make a long story short, I'm still learning how to photograph food. However, I've made a lot of mistakes, wasted plenty of time, and have now adopted a few key rules. I thought it would be fun to share some of what I've learned along the way. If you like these tips you may also want to check out a few on photographing food from the lovely ABM blog.
1. Plan ahead: Some recipes take longer than others. You don't want to spend 10 hours cooking one because you stopped every minute to photograph it. Trust me, I've been there. I recommend grocery shopping in advance and deciding what images you would like to capture prior to starting. It may be a snapshot of the ingredients or a specific recipe step. Or it may just be the finish product.
2. Invest in table cloth napkins: Cloth napkins make for easy backdrops and help with dead space. I like to buy a set of similar colors and patterns. Try Pottery Barn, Home Goods, or even Anthropologie. They are pretty and will give the image personality.
3. Accessorize: When I first started I would bake a cupcake and photograph it. That's it, just one lonely little cupcake on a table. While sometimes it may be nice, I now try to create a visual scenario. For example after baking a pie I may plate a slice and add a cup of milk with a pretty fork.
4. Use natural light: Natural light photos are best when taken with the flash setting off. If you do not have natural light in your kitchen then take the food to another room. You may find it helpful to invest in a prop such as a large food tray. Schlep your prop to the room with the best natural light and set up your food. My kitchen does not get great light outside of spring and summer. In all other seasons I opt out of taken step-by-step recipe shots. Instead I too schlep the final product.
5. Take it outside: Sometimes the light coming in from the window is piercing bright and abstracted by trees. If possible schlep a prop (see step 4) outside. I love taking photos out on the patio. There is no better natural light than what you will get outside.
6. Edit: Food is beautiful and like a model in a magazine even a cupcake deserves a friendly touch up. Don't be afraid to use a photo editing app to heighten color. To read more on my photo editing preferences check out my FAQ page. Labeling ingredients is also a great way to add character.
7. Try different angles and close-ups: Ok imagine this. You are my neighbor. It's 10am on a Monday. You walk by house and get a glimpse inside my kitchen. This is what you see. Me standing on top of a chair taking a photo of a piece of pie (mind you my kitchen looks like a disaster zone). Sounds crazy I know. But, hey we all do it. I'm sure even you're favorite blogger. I'll try any angle. I even sit on the counter top if I feel I may get better light.
Well those are all my crazy little tips. If you have any please share in the comment box!
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