Read this post to know all there is to know about food photography, food styling, editing, props, and other interesting tips to make you a better food photographer.
If you’re a food blogger you may have realized by now that food photography is crucial to the success of your blog. It’s what makes or breaks a blog. I take pride in my pictures and invest a LOT of time and money into it. So when my readers try my recipes because they loved what they saw in the picture, it makes all the painful hours making, styling, shooting that food worth it. Trust me when I say this, it’s not an easy task. There’s no one rule and there’s no handbook that’ll tell you exactly what you need to do but I’ll try and help you get the basics straight. Before I begin, let me just tell you that I’m not a trained food photographer, whatever I know is from the internet and with the help of a few friends.I’m just telling you what I’ve learnt in my first year as a food blogger.
So lets begin with this horrible shot of Eggless Lemon Drizzle Cake, that was taken over a year back.
It lacks proper lighting, styling, and I shot it with my iPhone 4s. But I had just started so I didn’t really care. But when I saw this recipe as #1 on Google search for Eggless Lemon Drizzle Cake, I knew I had to shoot it again and so I did. Here’s the improved version.
The picture was shot in broad daylight, there’s enough styling (although I feel it needs more) and I’ve used a professional camera to shoot it. It looks gorgeous and therefore gets me new readers. For fun here’s an shot of my Classic Banoffee Pie which was one of the first ever pictures to go up on my blog.
So what changed? Here are some things I’ve worked on and improved over a period of time.
Digital SLR Camera
One thing you need to up your photography game is an SLR camera. It’s not necessary but makes a whole lotta difference to your pictures. No matter what smartphone you have, it will never have enough settings to compete with a full blown SLR camera. I use Nikon D5100 that comes with a 18-55mm kit lens and I bought an additional 50mm f/1.8G lens. But don’t think that buying a fancy camera means clicking nice pictures. You need to learn to operate your camera on Manual settings. This gives you full control over the camera which you will need when you don’t have enough light, or want certain amount of bokeh (blurry background). My advice, learn to operate a SLR camera before you buy it. You don’t want to spend 40k on a camera and not use it, right? Once you’ve bought the camera, all you should be doing is practice. Nothing will teach you to take pictures as hands on experience will, so get that camera and start clicking.
Putting a few muffins on a plate will not make it look nice in a picture until I put a matching napkin or keep the ingredients around it. There’s no hard and fast rule to styling, you just have to develop your own. Some people just take super zoomed in shots which means only concentrate on making food pretty but some people like putting together proper scenes. I try to take zoomed in shots while making it look like a scene by using little complementing accessories, like a cake stand, a cake server, straws, a jar of Nutella (in Nutella recipes) or ingredients like chocolate chips etc. But in my pictures, the food is the hero, I try to concentrate on making it as appealing to eye as I can.
You also need to invest in props that go with the kind of food you make, and really concentrate on making the food look like the hero. Look up photos of food on the internet or Pinterest to learn about styling and get some inspiration. This is what I do all day everyday!
Editing your pictures is as important as buying an SLR camera and this is something you get better at with time. You can edit using softwares like Picasa (which is free and pretty good) or you can spend a little and go the professional way. I use Adobe Lightroom for editing all my pictures. It’s a little overwhelming to use in the beginning, but you’ll get the hang of it. Just practice.
As you can see from these pictures, the real magic happens in editing. Taking pictures is the easy part, the real drill happens when you sit down to edit. You can control things like the brightness, the color saturation, the contrast, clarity, vibrance etc. This again requires a lot of practice and is something you get better at with time, so get a nice editing software and practice!
Developing a Theme
This is something you need to sit down and think about. My blog’s “theme” is very vibrant and colorful, I love to work with colors because that’s what I’m comfortable with. However, you can develop a completely different style like working with dark colors, or metals, or taking very VSCO Cam-ey pictures. But what’s important is you decide how you want your photos to look like and implement it to all your photos. This will help in developing a personal style that makes your pictures stand out from the crowd.
No Filter and artificial lights
Last but the most important, stay away from filters as much as you can and shoot your pictures in broad daylight. I NEVER use artificial lights or filters for my pictures, whatever you see on my blog is shot in broad daylight. Sometimes, there’s not enough light but you can adjust the amount of light that enters your lens by adjusting your aperture and ISO. More on these later.
These are some of the basic things that you need to concentrate on, atleast in the beginning and really practice! There’s so much left to write so wait for my Part 2 of the photography tips, comment below and let me know if you want me to answer any questions! Signing off with my absolute favourite shot of my Cranberry and Orange Summer Punch.