Food photography doesn’t have to be hard! With these five simple tips you’ll learn some easy tips to start elevating your food photos. Consider these steps as a guideline for creating attention capturing content that draws people in! And best yet, these are all free ways to elevate your photography game, no money required, just patience and practice :)
1. Add Texture
When you think of food, how important is texture to you? Whether something is creamy or crunchy, moist or dry, or anything in between, texture matters! That’s why adding texture to the food you’re photographing is so important because it helps people better imagine the food and what it would be like to enjoy it. Consider this step as highlighting the star feature of the food and ask yourself, “what makes this special?” Is it the juicy texture? Or the thick and fudgy frosting?
Once you identify what the textures of the dish are, the next step is to capture them! Say for instance you’re photographing a cake, the textures I’d highlight would include: the crumbs of moist cake that fall onto the plate, the thick frosting layer, and perhaps a garnish of chocolate shavings or chopped nuts. Adding texture to your photographs is similar to using descriptive adjectives to describe food.
2. Set Ingredients Aside
The tendency when photographing food is to shoot the finished product. However, with savory meals or anything that is homogeneous (like soup, curries, or stir frys), its best to set aside the key ingredients of the dish so that viewers can see everything clearly. There’s two ways to do this and both will improve the quality of your photos.
The first is that for a dish with many ingredients it’s best to leave out some out from the finished meal and have them arranged artfully in bowls, on plates, or on the backdrop itself to tell the story of the dish.
The second is that for a dish like soup, leaving a few pieces of each star ingredient out to place on top right before photographing ensures that everything is seen! Otherwise your soup ingredients may sink or lose their fresh, crisp appearance from sitting in the mixture.
This step may seem like a hassle at times but it’s an important tip to remember. Garnishing your food adds texture and as we discussed above, and this is important because it helps add layers to the final photo. Besides that, garnishes also add contrast which draws attention and interest to the photograph. An example of this is chopped parsley or basil, red pepper flakes or sesame seeds for savory and for sweets something like chopped nuts, chocolate shavings, sprinkles, or even a glaze.
Another tip for garnishes in particular is to look for contrasts with color. I advise you to refer to the color wheel and find color pairings that contrast each other. This adds that extra pop of attention to your photographs! An example would be chopped green herbs on a red tomato sauce for lasagna or even a white glaze on chocolate cake.
4. Play with Lighting
Playing around with lighting can change the entire look of your photography! It can be easy to stick with what you know looks ‘good’ but what if you explore a bit and find even better lighting? Try adjusting your style for backlit versus side light or at what time of day you shoot. Another thing to consider is how deep you want the shadows to be. If you’re going for dark shadows add a black bounce board and for soft shadows add a white bounce board. Play around with it and compare your photos with the different layouts and light levels to determine what works best.
5. Study what you like
This is a huge step for anyone new to food photography or even seasoned professionals. Take time to seek out others in your field and study their photographs. Then ask yourself what you like and what you don’t like about the shots to determine what your preferences are. It’s important that while doing this you don’t just copy someone’s work but that instead you draw inspiration from it.
You may find yourself surprised at what photographs and styles capture your attention most. Be open to experiencing something new and then perhaps testing it out for yourself.