Though snapping photos of your food before consuming it has become something of a running joke on the internet, those who have tried will tell you it’s difficult to perfectly capture the essence of your plate. Pictures of the food we eat provide a small window into our culture, our lives, and our tastes — so, here are some food photography hacks to help you take the best mouth-watering images.
When it comes to lighting, natural is best. So, try to avoid using any artificial lighting for your tasty treat snaps. Using your camera’s flash will not only be aesthetically displeasing, but it will misrepresent the food’s appearance and quality by washing out colors and highlighting the wrong details. If shadows are preventing you from sharing the beauty of the food plated in front of you, try to use them to your advantage instead. Maneuver your items to use the shadow as an interesting effect and creative use of resources. You could even create your own shadows to enhance your vision.
Do you study a gourmet cheeseburger up close in real life? No? Then don’t photograph one that way! Leave some negative space in your picture to accent your foodie passions. Though you should use a simple background, props when staging your food can help with a visual narrative. Some examples are books, cutting boards, silverware, or cake stands. Experiment with combinations of various textures, and bonus points if you can include human actions (holding cups, stirring pots, pouring beverages, etc.).
Tilting your arm ninety degrees may pay off in selfies, but when photographing food, the shot should almost always be face-on. Your job is to stimulate as many senses as possible, and the easiest way to accomplish that is through a natural depiction. The most appealing way to document your food is to photograph it from above. This way, you can have full control over the background of the photo as well as any props, while capturing the important aspects of the meal. For foods that are not so simply displayed, try photographing them in a transparent container from the side to reveal visual nuances. In short: find your food’s greatest asset and highlight it.
The artistic process doesn’t end once the shot is taken. After exhausting other food photography hacks, take time to correct the brightness levels of your photo, as well as enhancing the colors of any vibrant food you may be displaying. If you’re sharing the photo to social media, be sure to experiment with the quality so your photo looks exactly as you created it to be in a post.
While browsing various food photography hacks, remember that it pays to be creative. Each time you capture a photo, ask yourself if there’s something there that’s specific to you: are you presenting your creativity, your aesthetics, or your passion for the plate in front of you? No matter what your answer is, make it yours.