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  • July 02, 2021
  • 11 min to read

10 Secrets to Honing Your Food Photography Skills

10 Secrets to Honing Your Food Photography Skills

Food photography isn’t as easy as it seems. There’s more to it than simply arranging everything flat on the table and taking a snapshot with your smart phone from above. If you ever wondered why your food photos might not be as good as the ones you see on Instagram, it’s most likely because there are other factors you haven’t considered that many pro food photographers are experienced enough to utilize for every single shot they take.

Sharpen your food photography skills and ramp up your food photos. These 10 tips will help you get there. And don’t worry; they’re easy enough that even the most inexperienced photographers can do them.

Shoot with soft, natural light.

As tempted as you might be to use the unflattering fluorescent lighting, resist the urge to take that snap. As a general rule in photography, natural light is king; and this is true for food photography as well. It isn’t hard to find. Just look for the nearest window that lets in that beautiful natural light, preferably a soft one, and set up next to it. Trust us; it will work wonders on that shot.

Mind your background.

Whether you’re shooting overhead or from the side, it’s important to pay attention to your background. Believe it or not, unflattering backgrounds can also ruin your photo. Once you’ve framed your shot, take a second or two to look at what’s happening in the background. Does the table you’ve set the food on look good? Are there elements in the backgrounds that are distracting? If the answer is yes, then readjust.

Keep it uncluttered. Minimalize. 

Speaking of distractions, removing clutter and minimalizing the elements in your frame are great ways to instantly improve that image. Just like you’re taking a second or two to inspect your background, also take a few seconds to examine that you don’t have unnecessary elements poking in your frame. The tip of a fork, for example, or someone’s elbow can also ruin a shot. 

Add a human element.

It may sound like an Instagram cliché, but adding a human element to your photos can really make a huge difference. Not only does this bring a splash of emotion into the photo, but it also makes it more immediately relatable to the audience. Have someone scoop up a spoonful of soup from the bowl as you’re taking a photo or photograph a person’s hands as they’re cutting cheese or pouring wine.

Embrace the colors.

Adding vibrant colors in your shot is another easy way to instantaneously make your food shots appealing. It could be anything from adding a touch of red in an otherwise neutral-colored dish like an oatmeal or using an already colorful subject to setting up against a pastel-colored wall.

Experiment with angles.

Don’t just stick to flat lay overhead shots, even if they are the easiest. Remember, it’s usually the hardest shots that are the best ones. Don’t be afraid to experiment with angles. Go high then go low. Get close then go wide. Take shots from different sides. When you’re done, browse through all of your shots and pick the best ones!

Get rid of hard shadows.

Hard, harsh and direct light can cause shadows that are hard, deep and unappealing. And they can be distracting, not to mention, unflattering. To get rid of these shadows, using soft and directional light is the easiest way to go. If that doesn’t work, using a reflector to fill in those shadows or a diffuser to soften the light will. If using either just isn’t possible, you can always use a photo editing software to remove them in post.

Use a tripod.

No matter how good your camera is, using a tripod when you’re shooting indoors or in low light situations is always better. It will let you shoot in slow shutter speed at a lower ISO, therefore less noise and no blur. In food photography, using a tripod has even more advantages. It takes the weight off your arms in situations when you need to hold the camera in the same position for longer and allows you to reach angles that you might not be willing to reach yourself.

Take advantage of wide apertures.

Your lens’ aperture is basically the opening through which light travels. The wider the aperture, the more depth of field you get in your photograph; and with more depth you have, the blurrier and creamier your background and foreground get, leaving only your subject in focus. This effectively draws the audience’s attention immediately to your subject. An aperture of F/2.8 to F/3.5 should do it!

Be patient.

Most importantly, be patient. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, you won’t just magically get the most stunning photograph in a single click. Photography is hard work, and it takes a lot of patience. Even pro photographers will tell you that they sometimes spend hours just to get that one perfect shot. Even if you do get all your ducks in a row, you might still have to take several shots before you get that one great one. 

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