How to Make a Stunning Photograph – 4 Basics Elements

Spaghetti Tossed with Veg Oil

Lot of people can take a photograph, but making a photograph is the real deal. The real skill lies in making and not taking a photograph. A click here and a click there won’t guarantee you a great photograph. While there’s a plethora of reading material online and in print about taking great photograph, this post briefly talks about how to make a great photograph. Before being a good food photographer, it is worthwhile to look at how to make a great photograph. Most of the discussion is focused around food photography.

So, What is a Great  Photograph?

A great photograph is something that catches attention and holds it and generates emotion in you. But that’s not it, this emotion not let you take your eyes off that photograph and will make you desire more of that visual tonic. A great photograph is so visually appealing that your eyes just cannot get enough of that.

Some have defined a great photograph as something that it looks very inviting in a thumbnail size and once it is enlarged you can’t take your eyes off it.

4 Basic Elements of a Great Photograph

A great photograph is a masterpiece. It is made only after putting some thought to it. Unlike a casual snap, several aspects of the subjects are carefully considered and then the photograph is thoughtfully made. Below are the basic elements that should be considered for making a great photograph. These are just four elements and by no means represent all elements required for a great photograph.

  1. Thoughtful Composition

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Composition in a photograph is defined by how the subject and supporting objects placed in the photographic frame. Composition is a complex aspect of a good photograph. In food photography, composition is not just placing the food or drink in the frame, it is also styling the food. In future posts, we will talk about composition and food styling in more details.  If you would like be stay updated and get next posts on composing the photograph, please choose RSS link or email link to be the first one to get these posts. 

  2. Abundant Lighting

    Goat Cheese Tarts As oil colors are to oil paintings, light is to photograph. There can be no photograph if there is no light. Some of you may say, “I take photographs at night and there is no light”. Well, night doesn’t mean no light, it just means, low light. Proper amount of light is required to make great photographs. When light is low and exposure isn’t proper, the underexposed parts of the photograph turn out to be darker. The general understanding is that food photograph that is black or dark and isn’t properly lit, turns off the audience.

  3. Vibrant Colors

    Lychee Charolette Cheesecake Color is an important aspect of a great photograph. In food photography, the vibrant colors attract attention. A photograph of bright red colored strawberry partially covered with chocolate will be mouth watering to observers. However, it is also important to get the colors right. Food not in its natural color becomes less appetizing. A slightly blue strawberry is no longer as appetizing as the red strawberry in real life.

  4. Pinpoint Sharpness

    Plate of Raspberries and BlueberriesSharpness of a photograph is achieved by properly focusing the subject. A stunning photograph has one or more areas that are perfectly focused. Now, there can be purposely out-of-focused areas or entire photograph will soft focus, but that is not usually done in Food Photography. In general, the sharper the image the more stunning it is. Blurred or out of focus background with perfectly focused subjects or areas make image pop out and make a photograph stunning.

Other Elements of Stunning Photograph

As mentioned previously, their are more elements that are required to make a stunning photograph. A good composition, enough light and lively colors are just few of the many elements that make a great photograph. What would you add to this list? What have you observed? In your experience, what makes an awesome photograph?

Photo Credits

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  • This is a very informative post. Will be sharing it on my Facebook page! =)

  • I struggle with depth of focus. I got a 50mm lens and try to have it as open as possible and the shutter speed as long as possible so that the photograph isn’t blurred. Do you have any tipps for someone without a tripod?

    • Billy Walker

      If you are trying to intentionally throw a portion of the image out of focus slowing the shutter speed down will not accomplish your goal when it comes to still life. It will only help to blur the image. The good news is food photography in general does not call for long shutter times. As an aside here long shutter times will require a tripod or some form of support in order to prevent the camera from moving.

      Although there are a few variables when going with a selected focus area in general it is important to shoot as open as possible although this is not a hard and fast rule. If your lens goes to 2.8 shoot at 2.8. If your lens goes to 1.4 shoot at 1.4. Distance to background objects come into play as well. There really is no shortcut here as you will need to experiment on your own to see the results. Heavy experimentation with lens opening and moving the background objects forward and backwards will allow you to learn end results. If you’re not willing to experiment for a period of time I’m sorry to say the learning curve will get much steeper so take the time to learn. It will make you a better photographer.

      Selected focus is a very powerful tool in the world of photography and this includes food. Doing it poorly will result in poor looking images; doing it correctly will make a world of difference. It is well worth taking the time to learn and it is not a skill you will learn overnight so be patient.

      By the way… a tripod may not be required for doing food but it is darn close. If you want exceptional images you need a tripod so it would be wise to make the investment as soon as you are able to.

  • This is very helpful to me. I have trouble with composition in my food photography. I read this 3 times.

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