Updated: Oct 6, 2020
If you’re in the restaurant business (or even just an Instagram foodie), you know that taking good photos of your food is essential. But it’s tough making your food appear as delicious in a picture as it does in real life. Here are tips to make your food photography shine.
Background is everything to ensure success. You want your meal to be the main focus of the picture, so use either a neutral background, or a background that will bring out and complement the colors of the food.
Here’s a trick stolen from Instagram foodies: often the backgrounds seen in their food photos are fake. You can buy marble and granite paper on Amazon and set your dishes on that to act as a classy background for your photo. Want a wood background? Just use a cutting board. What you see on camera doesn’t necessarily have to exist in real life.
When it comes to food photography, the plating of your meal is essential. There are two ways to go: using a standard white plate or colorful plates and cutlery.
If your meal is already colorful, then using a standard white plate will suffice. But if your meals are less colorful, you may want to use plates and cutlery with rich colors or patterns to add zest to your photo.
Whatever plate settings you choose, make sure to spray your cutlery and plates with an anti-glare reflective coating. This will reduce the glare from your plates that can distract from your meal’s presentation.
Food arrangement is also crucial for creating an appealing look for your next ad. Here are two suggested arrangement styles:
Neatness: Try to arrange your food nicely before presenting, so it looks appetizing. It doesn’t matter what the type of meal it is – anything from a burger to curry looks better when it’s arranged cleanly.
Nature: The exception to the above rule is for healthy foods. Some choose to be messier with arranging the plate for healthy food because that mimics nature, which is often messy. A classic example of this is how salad bowls are often displayed.
Now here’s the fun part about making food for ads – there are tricks you can use to make your food shine for the camera. Here are some techniques that the best food photographers use:
Corn syrup: Use corn syrup if you need your food “sticky”. For example, if you need sprinkles to stick to cake or cookies!
Garnish: Always add garnish to the top of your savory meals; this adds an extra sense of flavor to the photo.
Toothpicks: If your food keeps falling out of place, use toothpicks to make your food stay still for the camera.
Vegetable oil: If you serve meat, coat the meat with some vegetable oil to make it look extra juicy in photographs.
In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about the importance of good lighting. However, lighting with food is a bit different. Although natural lighting is still best, you’ll want to avoid creating harsh shadows on your food. Avoid having too much light in front of the food because it will wash out the food’s color.
Instead, try lighting food from the side to show off its texture. In low light conditions, you can use a white napkin or paper to bounce light onto the food.
For food shots, there are specific angles you can use to best advantage. If you want a full shot of the meal, try shooting from overhead. If you want your meal to appear larger, then try taking photos from the side.
Once you’ve taken pictures or videos of your food, there are also a ton of editing tricks at your disposal to improve how the food looks. Here are some of them:
Sharpen: To make the texture of your food richer, sharpen the image in editing.
Saturation: To make your food look “warmer” and fresher, saturate the food a little bit in editing. It’s easy to go overboard with saturation though, so use this technique sparingly.
Finally, the most important thing to remember when taking food photos is to eat before you start! There’s nothing worse than being hungry on a shoot, and the last thing you want to do is eat the subject of your photo.
With these tips, we can’t wait to see the yummy photos you take of your culinary creations!