Being a food photographer, I am hungry for beautiful food photos – photos that inspire me and instigate me to create strong photos. On a regular basis, friends and readers send me a tweet about a blog they like or a photo that moved them.
Some of these blogs are photographically strong, others are great blogs in general. Some of these photographs are beautiful and once in a while there are some photos that are just crime against photography.
Let’s discuss all of this in more detail…
Food Photographer’s Crime
Food Photographers live to make food look beautiful. A photograph that moves your audience in a positive way is a great photograph. These food photos make you want to grab that dish and gulp it down your throat.
And then there are some food photos that just make you lose your appetite. Some of them are very strong but in the wrong sense. These photos make you look away or even close the browser immediately.
That, my friends, is a crime for food photographers.
7 Most Common Food Photography Crimes
Some of those photos can be improved by changes some techniques, while in other cases, photographer needs to understand the fundamentals of photography.
Below we look at seven most common crimes and how to avoid them. The most effectively wrong photo combine more than one of these following attributes.
Let’s jump right to the first one-
1. Camera Angle
This is probably the most common mistake that is made. Camera angle plays a very important role in food photography. We talked about the best camera angle, and in most cases 45 degree isn’t one of them.
The temptation to take a quick photo as soon as you get the camera in your hand may be strong, but don’t let that cloud your imagination.
To save yourself from this crime,change the angle. Climb that chair. Kneel down. Take lots of photos. Read how to do photographic dance.
2. Get too close
There is one advice that new photographers get very often. “Get close, fill the frame,” they say. And make no mistake, filling the frame with your subject is important. Sometimes though, some of us go overboard.
We zoom in way too much. We take a little too many steps. We get so close that, it is absolutely impossible to understand what this dish is.
Honestly I would rather stand two steps back and would look at my food from distance that is greater than distance between my nose and my eyes. Step back and take a photo.
3. Patterned dishes
In many of these strong photos, one thing that stands out is use of dishes. Using dishes with pattern and lot of colors takes readers away from the main subject of a food photograph – food.
Some patterned dishes enhance photographs. Others create noise. If you are photographing a salad that has lot of texture, a plate with lot of different colors on its border is not going to help the photograph. It is only going to create distraction.
Plates may look absolutely beautiful without any food in it, however, once food is plated and you are taking a photograph, food becomes the most important thing. Everything that is distracting you from food is just that – distraction.
To solve this, start with plain white dishes. That’s always a safe bet and once you start to understand colors and photography a little better, then start experimenting. But for my sake, please don’t use distracting dishes.
4. Yellow Lights
Yellow lights in food photography are just ugly. Yellow lights create a very unappetizing photo. Food color is captured incorrectly and white balance is distorted. We have talked about white balance and how to get food color right a lot.
5. No Food Styling
Food styling is crucial in food photography and one of the toughest art to master in this business. But this does not mean, you can’t learn food styling at all and that putting
Look at this post by Tami Hardeman. She shows how to transform an “icky colored food that looks like glop” to a beautifully rice dish. Look at some of the mind-blowing food photographers and inhale some inspiration.
6. Using on-camera flash
About 13 years ago, when I first picked a Russian-made film camera Zenit, one of the first advice I got from my mentor was this, “Don’t use on-camera flash directly on your subjects”. Those days, I was taking more photographs of architecture, portraits, flora and landscape.
Flash directly pointed at a flower, made it look flat and feature-less. Colors just washed out and the subject was just unappealing.
Then few years ago, I started photographing food more. That advice has still applies to food. On-camera flash is a big no no. For food photography too, flash makes subject look flat and feature-less.
So just don’t use flash. Or use it with a diffuser.
7. “Great Photos”
Feedback is important for every artist. Let me change that – Quality feedback is important for every artist. Right feedback will help you improve your skills.
Part of becoming a better photographer is understanding what a great photo looks like. People around us are nice and try to encourage us by giving us compliments. Please discern between good feedback and a “nice” comment.
This happens not only on your blog, but also on flickr. We’ve all seen just plain “nice” comments. Don’t take these to heart and fall-in love with your photography. Unless of course you are truly great photographer – and other great photographers are saying the same thing.
Have you committed these crimes in your early days? Dare to share your old photos ;)? You can attach your photos in the comments below.
What food photography mistakes have you seen by food bloggers? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.