Thursday, June 19, 2008

Photography: Food

orginal post by dps blogA reader wanted to know a little bit more about food photography, so here is what i have picked up along the way.

The Lighting

For starters you want to treat your food like any other objects (which is pretty much is). I did some research before writing this article that is for sure, and i did some searches over at flickr and what i could tell right of the bat was that people where not shooting under the right light conditions (and as i have stated over the past lightning is everything in photography). One of the best places in my opinion if your going to shoot any still life or food as a matter of fact is in the early mornings by the window, were you will find plenty of natrual light, now if you dont have the luxery of some great natrual light you could aslo bounce the flash of a ceiling or a wall to give a more balanced light that decrease the amount of harsh shadows that you will find. If your shooting during mid day, try to reflect some of the light back by using a home made reflector (anything white will do, as white reflects about 80% of the light). But the natural light makes the food look very natrual and fresh.

Props it

I been very lucky, my mother has always through my life placed the food in some what a fancy way during the sunday dinners, where she sets up certain plates and placeses the food on the plate on a certain way, but looking at some food magazine i realised that this isn't all that should be done, you can also add props. What i mean here is that you should take a look at where your placing the plate for example, i really like "clean" photogrpahy so to speak so a nice white background would look great with nothing in it. Its also very improtant to see what type of plate that your placing the food in, make sure that works with the set up of the food as well as with the lines. If you have a dish that is rather smooth, like soup for example, break eveything up a bit and place it on a square plate or a plate with sharp eges to give the iamge some attitude. Also if your going to palce some extra props around the shot to fill a whole table, place maybe a spoon that will be out of focus, maybe a glass or a napkin. These elements can often be placed in secondary positions in the foreground or background of your shot.

photo by: Hypnotic Aubergine

Be Quick

We all know that food doesn't stay fresh for very long (this is where the food differese from the still life), so plan ahead, try different set ups before your actually placing up the food, and are ready to take the shot. A stake doesn't look a juicy after 1 hour compared to when it just came of the grill, note that some foods tend to change colors as well depending on when they have been prepared. Set such things up as exposure, white balance aperteture before your going to start. And when in doubt try out pretty much all you know and then let the food come to.

Style it

Style the food, give it some life. This is maybe as important to show whats on the plate, pay attention to shape lines etc, work with them or work against them. Take a look at the cooking boks and see how they styled the food shots, they maybe added some dill to the salmon photograph, or a bit of chocolate around the plate for the special desert. Its always good to take a look at some work before shooting it yourself.

photo by: MR+G

Enhance it

One tip that a photographer gave me last week when I said I was writing this was to have some vegetable oil on hand and to brush it over food to make it glisten in your shots.

Get Down on a Low Angle

Please don't shoo the food directly above, this is very unappealing to the eyes and you cannot see the nice set up of the food, choose a angle of 30 or 40 degrease from the table, this si a very common angle for food photography. Try shooting from the plate level as well as a bit above it, this should give you better looking results.

photo by: Hypnotic Aubergine

Macro it

If the dish lets say a salmon dish with potatoes (lets keep it simple) and everyone is very aware of the taste of potatoes (and in my opinion they are nothing special) you want to make sure that salmon is perefectly in focus. This will enhance the salmon and make the "best" part of the dish stand out amongs the rest, use your apretures as well to limit the depth of field.

Steam it

Having some sort of liquid (often the clearer the more appleaing) will enhance the look of your food, or give it that "just cooked feel" which i personaly like alot and i think most of us enjoy. Try adding some of that steam behind the shot if you cannot get it the natrual way, place a maybe a soaked cotton in the microwave for a while till its very hot and "hide" it amongs the food.

I hope that can give you guys a basic idea of how to go about photographing food. I m going to look for some example shots and add them to thread later on.


Graham Pakiam said...

Nice tip with the steaming cotton balls. Great stuff Alex thanks for sharing!

Alexander Blacker said...

Thanks G, I cant take full credit for that as i read it else were. Cheers for reading mate