Everyone knows that the poster of that delicious looking Big Mac is not exactly indicative of the product they're about to unwrap. But if it weren't for that enticing, mouth-watering photo, you might not have even given it a try. Before you go jumping into pursuing a career in food photography, you should probably do some research first--let this be your first stop!
Shoot from an interesting angle. Most people are accustomed to looking at food at a downward angle given that table height is lower than eye level. Take a different approach to how you want your audience to view food. Create dimension to food by shooting at plate level, this way you can really emphasize the height of that towering chocolate cake or the thickness of that juicy steak. Getting down to plate level also emphasizes texture and detail that an overhead shot lacks.
Cut it up! Although that chocolate cake looks delicious sitting on a cake pedestal, cutting a slice out of it to show its depth and inner texture takes the photo up a notch. Don't be scared to play with food. Peel apart the sections of an orange, break a chocolate bar into pieces, cut that juicy burger in half to show all of the layers. The more you're able to reveal about the subject, the more appealing it will be to your audience.
Don't be afraid to get close and crop in tightly. A great technique to draw emphasis to the plate is by eliminating all of the other distractions. If it's the food that is the focus of the photograph, be sure to stick to only the elements necessary to emphasize that subject. Keep the background elements as simple as possible and don't feel the need to fill every bit of open space with props. Less is more in the case of food photography.
Use natural lighting when possible. While it can be argued that using flash can really enhance a photo, you should shy away from it when food is your subject. It may actually make your food appear less appealing and harsh when directly aimed at the subject, so as a rule you should just avoid it whenever possible. If absolutely necessary, bounce the flash off the ceiling or nearby wall. Open up your lens and shoot near a window or skylight during the day for the best results.
Cheating is ok! Due to the length of time that shoots can take, you may have to fake some of the effects. Want to make something look like it's still steaming hot off the stove? Microwave a couple wet cottonballs and place close to the subject but not in view of the lens. Want to make something glisten? Use a little oil on a paintbrush and lightly cover your subject. Keep in mind that too much oil will make your subject appear greasy in photos—use wisely!
Author's Resource Box
Rick Valence works at C.R.I.S. Camera Services, one of a few large quality camera repair shops in the U.S. Along with being a camera and photography enthusiast, Rick enjoys blogging about camera repairs in his spare time and traveling around the world to find exotic regions and experiences to photograph.
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