We’ve all heard it countless times: a picture is worth a thousand words.
If you need photography for your website, PR, brochures or other printed collaterals, you will most probably need to hire a photographer with the suitable equipment. However, for online use such as newsletters and social media, you might not need to hire a professional. You can start capturing those mouth-watering menu offerings yourself, making people hungry and convince them to book a table straight away. Below are a few tips and tricks to photograph your food like a professional:
However, for online use such as newsletters and social media, you might not need to hire a professional. You can start capturing those mouth-watering menu offerings yourself, making people hungry and convince them to book a table straight away. Below are a few tips and tricks to photograph your food like a professional:
First of all, think about where you would like to use this image and what the purpose of it is. Will you use it in your newsletter to sell your autumn events menus? Then you may need to think about autumn colours and pick perhaps a couple of types of canapés to be the hero of your e-shot. Is it for social media to promote your seasonal set menu? Then perhaps find a colourful dessert dish from that menu that emphasises the seasonal fruits.
- Natural lighting
Always use natural lighting, no flash. Flash photos of food create harsh reflections and glare. Natural light that comes from the back or side usually creates the best illumination of the food while mitigating shadows and highlighting the texture of the ingredients.
Always ensure your background is neat and clean of clutter. If the hand of the chef is in the background, ensure their nails are clipped and clean. Any slight dirt or smudge can distract the viewer from the main focus of the image. The subject in your photo should be the food, so keep the background plain.
- Styling and props
Styling food is one way to capture its flavours, aromas and textures and to communicate them to viewers.
- To ensure the freshness of your ingredients translate to the camera and to make your salads or vegetables look fresh and zesty, add a splash of oil or spray with water.
- If your food looks flat and ‘boring’ on a photograph, add fresh colourful garnishes, or add more layers so they look fuller and textured.
- One thing to remember when photographing food is that your dishes don’t have to look perfect, A few crumbs or drips to the side of the food, or even a dish with a fork dug into the food makes the dish look more real and attainable to the viewer.
- Another way to make your photo memorable is by adding movement to it. You can do this by drizzling the dressing on a salad, sprinkling greens over a soup or using a fork to take a bite out of your pasta.
- You can also use different coloured and textured linen under your plate; utensils in various shapes, just remember the centre of attention should be on the food not the prop around it.
- When adding colours to the environment of the food you are photographing, remember to use colours that balance well. When selecting a colour scheme, use the restaurant’s decor for inspiration.
- The angle of the photo
Not all foods are created equal. That’s why some foods look better in certain angles and positions than others.
For flat food, try to photograph it from above. ‘Tall’ foods such as burgers look better from the side or eye level, so you can see all of the layers of juicy ingredients. Soups, drinks or any dish that has a depth, look good from a three-quarter angle, the same angle you would if you were about to eat it.
- The rule of thirds
This is an important concept in food photography. Photos are more appealing when the subject in place not directly in the centre of the photograph, but instead in one of the “thirds” of the shot.
Simply divide the photograph up into three horizontal and three vertical sections. The subject of the photo should be placed in one of the intersections of divisions, outside of the centre.
- Depth of field
This relates to those mouth-watering close up photos that highlights the cherry on the top of the cake, and blurs out everything else in the background. It is a commonly used photography technique because it draws the eyes to focus on the important area of the photograph.
And the final suggestion is to keep it simple. People viewing food photography want to be able to simply identify what the food is. I hope you enjoyed this summary. If you have any questions or comments, please drop me an email, I would love to hear your thoughts.