Two great food photographers, Mowie Kay (read his food photography interview) and Meeta Khurana (read her interview on how to become better food photographer and choosing a background for your food photo) spoke about food photography in Food Blogger Connect. If you were not able to be in the audience, I bet you wanted to. Me too. So here are some great tips from these two outstanding photographers, courtesy @mayssamaha.
41 Awesome Food Photography Tips
As I have heard Food Blogger Connect 2010 was an awesome event with wonderful talk by Meeta and Mowie. Here, are some awesome tips from the event. This set of tips are focused on basics of food photography, lighting and modifying light. Mowie and Meeta shared a lot of great information.
1. Understand Why You Need Better Photos
If you have a food blog then remember that if your blog is boring, potential readers will leave sooner than you expect. See these food photographers and visit their blogs. Mouth-watering food photos are absolutely essential for blogs. This doesn’t hold just for blogs. If you are aspiring to be a full-time food photographer, your potential clients need to see your portfolio and you too have only 3 to 5 seconds to make that impression.
2. Know Important Elements of Photography
Lighting, sharp focus, depth of field impact all photos. It is important to know how these three elements impact a photograph. A great food prop will improve a photo to a great degree. Props and backgrounds play an important role in setting up the mood of the photo.
3. Learn the Science Behind Photography
Learn the technology and the science that goes behind making a photo. Even if you think it is boring, it is crucial to at least know how a photograph is formed. The science behind creation of a photograph has the basics of photography that everyone should know.
4. Use Shallow Depth of Field to Make Food Pop Out
Shallow depth of field will make your food pop out. Read how to get shallow depth of field.
5. Change Distance Between the Elements for Changing Depth of Field
Distance plays an important role in getting depth of field. Distance between your subject and camera influences the depth of field. Now if you have something in the background, it will make your depth of field more obvious and impactful.
6. Learn How to Control Depth of Field
Depth of field plays a very important role in food photography. Aperture and distance are two important elements that affect depth of field. There can be some other things that impact depth of field or enhance it. Read more on how to control depth of field.
7. Good Light is Essential
Without light there is no photography. It is therefore absolutely important to make sure lighting is both of good quality and ample quantity.
8. Use Natural Light Whenever Possible
Natural Light has awesome quality, it lets you see true color of your subject and fills the room with magic. Read/Listen discussion on natural light in an interview with Matt. Matt makes some great points in favor of natural light.
9. Light the Food to Get the Texture and Shape
Light the food in such a way that emphasizes shape of food and texture of the dish.
10. Know What Works and What’s a Good Position
Know what position of lighting works best. In general placing light source at 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock seems to work in most cases. That is when you can control light.
11. Also Know What Doesn’t Work All That Well
Also know what won’t work. 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock won’t work all that well (Update: this may be solved by using a bouncer/reflector). Here important thing to keep in mind is how we are defining the “clock”. While it is easy to assume that the clock position that we are talking are in based on keeping the “clock” perpendicular to the table, also experiment with light positions assuming the “clock” is lying flat on the table. If you have questions about this, ask them in the comments below. Update: Great comment from Matt Armendariz on this tip. Please see his comment below.
12. Backlit Photos Almost Always Work
Backlit photos almost always work. If you know how to shoot against light that is. Shooting backlit subjects are challenging. The key is to make sure you set your equipment to meter the subject and not the background.
13. Quality of Light is Important
Yellow light will mess up your colors. Use white light (or daylight bulbs). Understand a what white balance is and how white balance impacts color.
14. Don’t Mix Your Light Sources
If you are shooting in a certain light source, don’t mix the picture by using two or three different types of light sources. And learn how to modify light.
15. You Should Almost Always Diffuse Artificial Light
If you are using artificial light, you should diffuse it using diffusers (or baking paper). This will eliminate any harsh shadows (unless you want it) and soften the light. In fact, you can use diffusers with natural light too if it is too harsh.
This is kind of obvious if you have been using them for a while. But for those that get confused between diffusers and reflectors, diffusers are placed between food and light, whereas reflectors/bouncers are placed on the other side of food. Well, technically not always on the “other side” and doesn’t have to be directly opposite side but you know what I mean.
17. Don’t Use On-Camera Flash. Please.
Please promise me one thing: You will never use on-camera flash. Repeat after me: “I will never use on-camera flash.” Don’t do that please.
18. Mirrors Make Great Reflectors
19. Know What to Buy
20. Overall, Understand a Thing or Two About Lighting Equipments
Understand what lighting options are available and how they work. For instance light boxes and umbrella both are available, but some light boxes allow you to control diffusion (by adding more than one layer of diffusion).
Tips 21 – 41: For folks like me (with short attention span), this is too much information to digest in one go, so I decided to break this post into two. With already over 1000 words in this one posts, the next 21 tips would take this post into a massive thesis. There is so much to learn from this event that I just decided to keep 20 tips per post to avoid information overload. Rest of the tips coming soon.
Read the remaining 21 food photography tips.
Thanks to Mowie and Meeta for sharing their knowledge and to @mayssamaha for live tweeting. This just makes me go to the next event for sure. Thank you to the organizer (wasn’t able to find names of people who organized Meeta and Mowie’s talk, if you know, please mention in the comments below, Thanks)
Did You Attend This?
Did you attend this event? Tell us how was it. Oh! You did not? Do you plan to go to the next event?
Food Photo Courtesy: elana’s pantry