I haven’t done a photography post in a long time so I thought I’d share some food photography tips with you guys. The tips I’m sharing today are great for if you’re starting out as a food blogger / Instagrammer or if you’re just looking to step up your food photography game. In my opinion, a good review sells, but a good review with good photos sells even better.
To illustrate the tips below, I have some images in this post taken at Gin Neo Bistro in Amsterdam during their Sunday Brunch. The Gin Neo brunch is a concept where they serve you a series of bite-sized plates, coupled with the best drinks, expertly chosen and/or shaken from the hands of sommelier Merlijn. Not only did I have my best restaurant experience at Gin Neo Bistro last year, but the plating is always on point, which is always an added bonus for any food photographer.
I’m not going into food styling in this post – I did dedicate a post on that in the past if you want to check it out. For some of my other food posts or photos, check out the food archive or my food photography portfolio. This post will solely focus on how to create the best food photos.
So! Here are my food photography tips!
1. Lighting This is one of the key things that is going to make or break your food photos. When I first started photographing food, I didn’t pay much attention to lighting. It often resulted in low light, grainy photos that were far from sharp. And as a relatively new food blogger, I didn’t dare taking any risks. But the first thing you’ll learn is that you need to take control of the lighting situation in order to get the best photos. There are food bloggers who will come in with external flashes or other lighting equipment. But improving your food photography can be done by something as little as coming in earlier or booking a seat by the window. Natural lighting is the best light you can get; and, you’re limiting your presence as a food blogger to a minimum, which is always a plus in my opinion.
2. Focus I guess this is kind of a no-brainer: focus on your object. But it isn’t always easy to find the best focus point, especially when a plate has lots of different components. Are you dealing with a dish that has components lined up? Take the photo from the side to create a gorgeous depth of field photo. Do you have components randomly places across the plate? I find it best to take the photo from above and focus on the whole plate. Flatlays work well when you’re dealing with big plates as well. For plates that feature components with different heights, try turning the plate to have the peak point away from you and take a photo from a 45 degree angle. This way you can have the whole plate in focus without worrying about blurry parts.
3. Composition Playing around with composition is great when you want to do food photography because there’s tons of things you can do. On my blog / Instagram, I find that the photos that work best for me are either centered photos, or photos taken with the rule of thirds. This is a photography principle where the focus / your object is aligned on a third of the photo. This technique can sometimes create a more interesting energy than having your objects centered.
4. Editing This depends on how you want the photos to look like and your personal style. For my photos, I try to edit as little as I can and I always try to stick to the surroundings and vibe of the place the food photos were taken. If I’m in a bistro like setting, I’ll leave in the shadows to create a gorgeous clair obscure. In a more upscale restaurant, I’ll try to include as much light in my photos as I can for that ‘clean’ look. You can add clarity to bring out certain components or saturation for color. The point though is to never overdo it. No chef likes to see his dishes turned into a kitschy over-filtered affair.
5. Equipment I get asked this most on Instagram. What kind of camera do I shoot with? What type of lens do I use? Honestly, you can take the best food photos without splurging on expensive equipment. I used to shoot with a Canon 400D and a 50mm f1.8 II and that combination brought me heaps of great photos. After a while, I upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark II and more professional lenses. The lens I use most for food photography is the Canon 24mm f2.8 (fast lens, razor sharp, good bokeh), my Canon 17-40mm f4.0 L (great for flatlays or taking interior photos) and my Canon 50mm f1.4 / Canon 50mm f1.2 L for photos where I’m looking for a beautiful depth of field. If you don’t want to carry a heavy load of equipment, the Canon 24mm f2.8 is a very decent lens that does not cost much.
I hope this helps! If you guys have more questions regarding food blogging or food photography, shoot me a message or comment below and I’ll try to answer for you as best as I can. Good luck and happy shooting!